Saturday, May 9, 2015

An Interview With Janet Devlin

>> Good afternoon, readers! It's about time that we at The Music Obsession introduce you to Janet Devlin - a fiery Irish singer / songwriter who has already accomplished quite a lot for a 20 year-old. I stumbled upon her music a while back, and I've been hooked on her combination of 'sweet and strong' ever since. I recently spoke with Janet about her debut album, Running With Scissors, as well as The X Factor, YouTube, and living out dreams.  Read my interview with Janet below.

How has your time in New York been so far?
Oh my gosh, it’s been, it’s been really good. The Last time we were here it was snowing and we couldn’t really go outside without you know, getting very very cold. But this is nice because it’s actually quite English weather right now where I feel oddly at home with the coldness right now. [laughs]

Have you seen the sights recently or have you been focused on business?
Well I did a gig, like a private function event kind of thing, and it was like really near the East River so that was pretty cool. Had a bit of a stare, zoned out a little bit.

That sounds fun! I’m glad you’re getting to enjoy the sights while you’re here.
Yeah doing the press and travel things, you do get to see lots of the city so it’s pretty cool.

When did you first realize that you wanted to start making and pursuing music?
Oh, gosh. Well I’ve always done it. But when I was like really young my mother would ask me ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I used to say ‘a singer’ and she used to be like ‘have fun finding that job,’ you know? I’ve always wanted to do it - it just never seemed like a reality or an attainable thing so...I’m not sure when I decided to take it seriously. I ‘spose I took it seriously when my friends gave me my first video camera, and I was like 15? They gave me a camera on the clause that I would make music videos. So that worked very well because I built up a following on YouTube so that was good.

So you kind of got your start through YouTube and started putting your music out there on your own?
Yeah. I had about 15,000 subscribers which was cool. Terrifying, but it wasn’t as bad because you could just make these videos and no one was in the house because I was on my own and you’d put them on the internet and then they’re just there, you haven’t informed anyone or anything so it was actually quite fun.

How was the experience of being on the X Factor back in 2011, especially compared to starting out making YouTube videos in your house?
My mom found out you could send in a video so I sent in one of my videos from YouTube. So I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t really think I’d get very far, but ah...I did [laughs]

What was it that kind of motivated you to first submit that video? Just the fact that you could?
I didn’t really watch the show or anything, my mom made a good point by saying ‘What have you got to lose?’ So whenever she said that I would say that’s a fair point so eventually I just sent it in.

What was one major thing that you learned from that whole experience?
I was only 16 when it happened. I was in school and stuff so it taught me kind of how to stand up for myself even though I was quite shy and reserved,  that if someone is trying to change you you’ve just gotta stand up and just say ‘no.’

It seems like The X Factor really gave you the confidence to pursue this as something you wanted to go far.
I ‘spose whenever I got the live show aspect I had to reevaluate what I wanted to get from the experiences like I didn’t think I would get very far at all, I didn’t think I’d even make it past the first part so like I had to sit down and think about what I wanted and what I wanted was to make contact with the industry and be able to make an album and all that kind of stuff so I set up this little, like, plan then.

So that’s where it really went from being a hobby to being something that you wanted to do full time.
Yeah. Cause it seemed attainable then. So, yeah.

How would you say that your music has grown since then? I know that you’ve been putting out EPs and albums ever since.
I always used to write poetry and stuff, so as I grow up I feel like my lyrics grow up. I write about my life and things that go on in my life so there’s that level of growth. Furthermore the more songwriting you do the more you understand it, the better your songs will be so I suppose there’s that as well.

Was Running With Scissors also inspired by similar experiences?
Yeah, that was.

What was the writing process with that whole album?
It was really cool. I got to write with so many great people and I took a couple of months and just traveled around England really writing with people, whoever would have me so it was really freeing. It was really cool to be able to do that at 17 years, travel around and write and it was great, I was able to write with Newton Faulkner, who was like a hero of mine when I was growing up so that was pretty cool [laughs]

Do you have a favorite track or something that really resonates with you?
"Whisky Lullabies" is my favorite track on this album and I even liked it so much I did it in Irish. It was the last song written for the album so maybe that’s why I like it more because I’d grown up a bit but I don’t know. I still feel something when I sing it to this day, so I think that’s good.

Ideally, what would you like listeners to get from the album? Is there a certain feeling or message you wanted to share?
Every song has a different message in it. I ‘spose you’ll find whatever you’re looking for in it. If you’ve ended a relationship recently, there’s a couple of songs on there for you, if you’re struggling with life there’s a couple of songs in there for you, and growing up songs and coming to terms songs..  so I feel there’s a lot of something in there for everybody. And even some upbeat happy-go-lucky trippy songs to drink to. [laughs]

How does it feel to take these songs written from personal experience and perform them in other countries?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s terrifying. It’s very scary but so far so good. I’ve only heard positive things back from over here. Everything people say when they come up to me after the show is so nice and it’s just refreshing.

That must be such an incredible experience - being so young and able to travel and pursue what you love.
Yeah it is! If anyone would have ever told me that when I was 12 I would have thought that was the coolest things you could have ever said to me. It’s just insane and I love it, I absolutely adore it.

You seem to have a really great presence on social media. Has that helped you connect with fans while you're traveling? 
I’m pretty much on all social media: facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram and stuff. It’s great to be able to directly contact fans and for them to be able to directly contact me. It’s really cool and that’s probably why I’m so proactive on it. I get to reach people that I wouldn’t necessarily get to reach and I do these gigs online that are streamed worldwide. I try to do 2 gigs whenever I do it and I suspect different time zones so people from around the world can choose whenever to watch a gig they wouldn’t necessarily see, so that’s probably my favorite thing about social media is those gigs.

It’s kind of combining your start with YouTube videos and your live performance aspect.
I must admit the first time I did it was pretty strange, but I get used to it - my little webcam and the fact that there’s people behind it. It’s actually really fun, really good fun. Viewers enjoy them, I enjoy them so I’m just gonna keep on doing them until I get bored.

Are there any hobbies or interests you keep up with outside of music?
It definitely takes over my time, I’m not gonna lie. I do enjoy reading if I’ve got a Saturday off or something. I’ll get up, walk in to town, go get a coffee and sit down and read a book. I love films. I mean who doesn’t, but I have a very short attention span so it has to be a really good film. [laughs] I did horse riding quite a lot as a child and I’d love to get back in to that. I go home for Easter so I might try to get in some horse riding while I’m there.

I hope you have time for that.
Me too!

Is there anything else you want to say or that you want the fans to hear?
Thank you to anyone who has actually taken the time out to listen to the record. That’s the really important thing because they don’t have to listen. A lot of them didn’t even have to buy it, you know what I mean? So it’s really cool that they’re so supportive, especially over here in the states - everyone’s being so nice so I hope that continues.

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