Spooktacular - Part 1
Northern Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin grew up outside the village of Gortin in County Tyrone, the only girl and youngest of four in her family. She thrived on a diet of watching Kerrang! TV and taking regular bus rides to local record stores in nearby Omagh. Fuelled by a love of bands like Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers and inspired by their songwriting, hidden away in her parents’ shed she taught herself to play instruments by ear and penned her own songs where nobody else could hear her sing. “I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, as long as my mum remembers,” Janet says. “My gran recalls me writing songs when I was five.”
Desperate to learn to play the drums, when her parents refused her the money to buy her own kit she resolutely entered local singing competitions to win cash prizes and pay for her drums with the proceeds. Her musicality and determination flourished and as a consequence, the songs she posted to her YouTube channel gained an unexpected but welcome fan base who were ready to support her in the next stage of her music career. In 2011, she caught the public’s attention on Series 8 of The X Factor, where she consistently received the highest consecutive public vote out of all the contestants, and gained a place on the live arena tour.
Janet’s a big fan of cartoons, gaming, Netflix, poetry and horse riding. Her quirky yet shy nature has won her a huge online following of fans that call themselves… The Devlinators, what else?
Running With Scissors
Janet’s debut album Running With Scissors was released in June 2014 reaching number one on the UK Indie Breakers chart. This 10-track debut is full of folk-driven pop songs and heart-touching ballads, which perfectly showcase her unique and enchanting vocals. The tracks are mostly authored by Janet and were recorded up in a staggering 6 weeks; but hidden around the corner you’ll find featured co-writes with Newton Faulkner (‘Creatures Of The Night’ and ‘Hide And Seek’) and Jack Savoretti (‘Delicate’) nestled alongside a surprising and sensitive cover of The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’. Janet’s other influences at the time included Imogen Heap, Turin Brakes, Adele, Mumford & Sons, Avril Lavigne, Regina Spektor and Florence & The Machine. As a result the album is full of rolling percussion, lush harmonies, string sections and acoustic guitars. There’s even a hint of Jack Johnson thrown in there on the track ‘Lifeboat’. Running With Scissors is a soulful, passionate album about growing up, becoming independent and dealing with a whole new range of emotions
The album was released in North America on 10 February 2015. This successful launch across the pond has led to Janet leap-frogging the Atlantic several times, touring her album across the East Coast and building on her already strong US fan base. Always keen to engage with her followers across the world, Janet’s been regularly performing using the online platform StageIt. This live music streaming network means viewers get a front row seat to her shows – she’ll often the take to the stage well after midnight in the UK to make sure she performs across as many time zones as possible.
EPs & Singles
After an eventful year and answering the call to so many requests from her Devlinators and YouTube subscribers, Janet slipped into the studio in early 2015 to record a covers EP entitled Duvet Daze. It’s a small collection of some of her favourite artists and songs including tracks by 10cc, Duran Duran and Ed Sheeran. After a few months, she went back into the studio again to record more music and November 2015 saw the release of a festive brother to Duvet Daze.
December Daze is a Christmas-themed EP made up of an assortment of original songs and a couple of seasonal chestnuts thrown in to the merry mix. The title track was written on her first ever trip to New York, and captures the optimism and glee of the holiday season. “I’d gone for a walk in Central Park and it was covered in snow, reminding me of all the classic Christmas films that had been made there,” she remembers of the experience. “Back in my hotel, I sat on the 36th floor with my guitar player, with the view of Times Square in the background, watching people with their woolly hats and oversized coats.” One of the tracks, ‘Happy Holidays’, involves Janet playing the drums, percussion, ukulele, and glockenspiel and has a guest appearance from a choir made up of her merchandise warehouse team!
Outernet Song is Janet’s catchy single released in 2016 – with her distinctive vocals and ukulele, it showcases her honest and frank lyricism to great effect, and couldn’t be more timely as more and more people embark on a ‘digital detox’. “This song has long history,” says Janet. “I started writing it on my ukulele when I was 19. Too many mornings spent watching TV and being told how to dress, how to look, and what to eat had worn away my confidence.” Janet kept the lyrics written down and found herself adding to them at various points over the last couple of years. So could Janet take the kind of social media holiday she sings about on Outernet Song? “Yes. Just a small break is a window to re-evaluate. Sometimes we just need to step outside for a little while... Do something other than waiting for notifications, emails or likes. Then come back to the magnificent world that is the Internet and see it for what it really is. A perfect place to Google videos of dogs surfing!” The track got a worthy revival at the start of 2017 when it was remixed by dance-floor maestro Jason Nevins, to industry acclaim.
Little Lights arrived in 2016, another Christmas cracker which skillfully captures a range of feelings associated with Christmas. It features a mixture of originals (‘Wake Up It’s Christmas’, ‘Merry Christmas Mum & Dad’, ‘Something Beginning With Christmas’), alongside timeless classics (‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘White Christmas’) and is bookended by an extra track from last year’s EP, which was previously only released digitally (‘Christmas Kiss’). “Little Lights is a slightly darker, more mellow venture into this special time of year,” says Janet. “I wanted to acknowledge that it’s not always eggnog and wrapping paper, and that there are other, more contemplative emotions kindled at Christmastime.”
Janet’s creativity and output can rarely be stemmed, and this is evident by the growth of her online presence, predominantly on Facebook and YouTube. She has been busy creating regular weekly content for her subscribers while she’s in writing mode. The Devlinators are enjoying being kept in the loop and are being treated to videos, poetry, covers and vlogs of Janet’s recent adventures. In addition, her live online shows are continuing to happen every month, keeping fans entertained and up-to-date with the goings on in Janet Land.
Janet has recently finished filming her screen debut for Triskelle Pictures’ indie film Songbird. It’s a modern fairy tale written for fantasy and music lovers alike, and features two original songs written by Janet especially for the film. While writing the script, award-winning screenwriter Tommy Draper was inspired to write the part of Jennifer specifically for Janet. Upon playing the protagonist, Janet explains; “I felt a real empathy with the character – she had hurdles to conquer and difficulties to overcome, and I could draw on experience and emotion to help bring life to the individual on screen”.
2017 has so far kept Janet as busy as ever! Behind the scenes she has been locked away with her lyric books and journals, which are overflowing with poems and commentaries. She’s also been traveling around the country to various studios for numerous collaborations with renowned writers. Songs are being penned for her new concept album Holy Water and recording is now in full flow – watch this space.