❉ The Irish singer-songwriter talks to We Are Cult about her new LP and book.
“The album is called Confessional, I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and the way to channel the pain is through creativity and turn it into art. As I have been through it and lived it, I wanted it to be reflected in the album… It’s an embodiment of what I’ve been through.”
Here at We Are Cult, we’ve been fans of Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin, ever since we covered the former X Factor contestant turned indie musician and popular YouTuber’s acting debut in the ‘folk horror fairy tale’ Songbird. Janet Devil makes a return to the spotlight with the publication of her autobiography and her latest album Confessional, both due to be released next month. We caught up with Janet recently to discuss the book, the album and the personal topics that are contained throughout both the book and album…
Having seen the three impressive and striking videos that trail the album (Confessional, Honest Men and latest video Away with the Fairies) I was keen to talk about the imagery and subject matter, particularly in Away with the Fairies…
“It was inspired by my alcoholism, the actual writing of the song was good fun. I explained to my co-writers the subject matter, but I wanted to make it this whimsical fairy idea and keep it light because it is such a dark topic, some people think it’s a really heavy subject. The aim of the game was to play around with the sound, metaphors and whimsical fairy tales.”
You threw yourself into that video!
“It was so much fun, I wanted it to be like an actual party, I spent £50 on Amazon fairy wings, and wanted the whole feel to be like the parties that I used to go to, and the extras were all good fun, I could party with these people.”
Talking of videos, ‘Honest Men’ is quite a striking video…
“That was new territory for me, being painted gold. It was so professional as we only had one day to do it in, You Tube paid for the video, and it was so great to work with such a supportive group who can direct me, and say be weird.”
And the subject matter of the song?
“Honest Men, it is about a strange mind trip, from such a weird headspace. It shows where your mind could go in that atmosphere, and I ended up wonky.
“The album is called Confessional, I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and the way to channel the pain is through creativity and turn it into art. As I have been through it and lived it, I wanted it to be reflected in the album, both the up’s and the downs, as some of these songs have been darker, the next song is so happy. It’s an embodiment of what I’ve been through.”
I asked Janet about the book ‘My Confessional’ and the album…
“They’re both due out on June 5th and I am both excited and terrified at the same time.
“I have had to cancel all my plans for the launch due to the current situation. I do a lot of online gigs and in my head the plan was to get the album out and head out to launch it live in the outernet, and then overnight it all shuts down.
“I will continue to do my online gigs and talks and have had some nice messages thanking me for entertaining online, as musicians this is what we can do to lighten the spirits. “
I have been enjoying watching my favourite artists do You Tube or Facebook streams to entertain people. And this is my role in these bizarre times.”
Can you tell us a little more about the album?
“Confessional is a real labour of love, there are several different bundles available for pre-order, including the CD, and two different vinyl versions, one normal and one marbled which looks lovely. I know people are keen on buying the physical and that they collect vinyl.
“With the writing process I had a list of topics that I wanted to cover on the album that I also wanted to cover in the book.
“I wanted the album to really flow like an album, so in most cases we got three songs for each topic, and the aim was to write as much as we could, so that I could then pick the best to work with.
“Going to the sessions we had fun co-writing on this, getting the right songs about each event. My co-writers were telling me how excited it made them.
“There was so much work went into the writing process, every line in every song matters, it has to play into the narrative and the really complicated world of the album, that writing it we had a blast and hopefully you can hear that.”
How about the book?
“It was not easy, as I have a short attention span, but it totally didn’t occur to me at any point in the process to get a ghost writer in.
“People ask me ‘Who wrote your book?’ I did, I went into the alcoholism, all the horribleness around that period, and I ended up with 140k words, which came down to 40k for the book.
“Writing it was soul cleansing and purging, I really enjoyed the process and it is my story.
“Of course, you have that doubt, ‘Will someone sign the book, will anyone want to buy it?’ but then I signed a deal and made the album, which has made the whole process really worth it.”
How did it differ from the song writing?
“With song writing you listen to different types of songs and collaborate; writing is a different form of creativity. It is weirder, as you start writing you channel your interior monologue and, in your story, you become a character, and I was writing for that. I was happy when it went to the publishers and didn’t feel like just a word document.”
How are you planning on the launch during lockdown?
“I will continue to do my online shows, and I’ll keep doing more of those for my fans and I’ll continue to stream on my You Tube channel. I’m hoping to do some radio interviews as well, I was really looking forward to getting to do a road trip visiting the UK, but that’ll have to be put on hold.
“I can’t be ungrateful though, I’ve got a good support network and am in a good position, so it’s not affected me anywhere near as much as it could.
“I can’t wait for the book to be out there and for people to read it and my weird brain thoughts!”
Many thanks to Janet for her time in talking to us.
❉ ‘My Confessional’ (the book, published by Omnibus Press) and ‘Confessional’ (the album) are released on 5 June 5, 2020 and available from https://www.janetdevlin.com/store
❉ Visit https://www.patreon.com/JanetDevlin and get access to more of Janet Devlin’s music, poetry and behind-the-scenes content.
❉ James R. Turner is a music and media journalist. Over the last 25 years he has contributed to the Classic Rock Society magazine, BBC online, Albion Online, The Digital Fix, DPRP, Progarchy, ProgRadar and more. James’ debut book is out in September and he is head of PR for Bad Elephant Music. He lives in North Somerset with his fiancee Charlotte, their Westie Dilys & Ridgeback Freja, three cats and too many CDs, records & Blu-Rays.