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| 24 June 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Janet Devlin’s long-awaited concept album Confessional is released today, June 5, 2020, alongside her autobiography My Confessional, published by Omnibus Press. Confessional, like its 46,000-word companion piece, is a rollercoaster of powerful emotions, with each track (and chapter) running parallel to the singer’s life. Topping the charts at #1 in the UK, Canada, Ireland, France, Australia and South Africa on release date, Confessional shows how broad and wide her international appeal is with fans all over the world.  Coming in at #2 on the influential Singer/Songwriter album chart on iTunes in the U.S. and #2 in Germany’s album chart, it’s evident that the struggles for recovery and effort she’s put into the album and book resonates deeply.” We were able to jump on the phone with Janet to discuss new music and more…

Toddstar: Janet, thank you so much for taking out time. I really appreciate it.

Janet: No, thank you.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about the biggest thing in your world right now, Confessional. The album dropped about three weeks ago. What can you tell us about this album that your fans may or may not grab the first or second time they listen to it?

Janet: I think it’s probably just every song is a metaphor, so I do think maybe if they don’t have the book, certain songs might go over their head as to what the song is actually about. Some definitely don’t. Most people would definitely understand all of it. The only one I really see people getting confused with is “Better Now.” I think a lot of people get to that song and they’re like, “Oh, beautiful. Everything’s okay.” And I’m like, “Oh no, it’s not. It’s not. That’s not the … no.” The song is actually really dark, but the chorus is quite misleading. It’s kind of an ironic song. It’s like, “There’s no such thing as better.”

Toddstar: That’s true. The album, Confessional, self-proclaimed confession, going through the track list, and the sequencing to me was very interesting in the way that the songs ebb and flow together. What about this album cried to you that the title should be Confessional, not only that, but you should open the album with that track?

Janet: Originally, the album was going to be called Holy Water and it was supposed to be this whole idea of purifying oneself from their sins or whatever. And it just came to be that really, I renamed it because this is what the album was. It was a confessional. And then I titled the book My Confessional because like the album, I hope should still be open to interpretation. The listener should still be able to listen to the songs and turn them towards their own life, whereas My Confessional is the literal versions of the songs and how they relate to my life. I suppose with “Confessional” being the opening song, the reason why that song is the opening song is because it’s not really a song at all. I just wanted to throw what the album was supposed to do in there, like this whole, “Be ready, sit down. I’m going to tell you my sins.” But I also wanted it to be what you get when you go to an opera, you get an aria; they play you little bits of what’s to come. So I wanted to do that but with the instruments. I wanted to chuck all of the instruments that people were going to expect to hear later on, just throw it at them like a big wall of sign.

Toddstar: And the vocalization was interesting as well due to the layering.

Janet: Oh, thank you.

Toddstar: And that said, being your confessional, which song struck you the hardest during the writing and recording process as just the most soul-bearing?

Janet: Well, maybe not the most soul-bearing, but definitely the hardest one and still is is “Speak.” That song is about my sexual assault. And I know a lot of people read the chapter and they’re like, “Something’s not right here.” And I’ve explained to a few people, a lot of things had to be changed in that chapter for legal reasons. But when you listen to the song, you know there’s something deeper to the whole thing, and I like that. The writing of that song was hard, hard but worth it. I cried a lot. I cried recording it. I had to go to a pretty dark place to get the vocals, you know what I mean? I love this song with all of my heart just for its sheer honesty, but it’s still a hard one for me to sing, to be honest.

Toddstar: Well, there’s something to be said about the whole album as far as it being from a sheer honesty standpoint. A lot of the songs were very baring of you as a person, I thought, as I listened to the album.

Janet: Yeah, well, that was the aim. That was definitely the aim.

Toddstar: How different was your approach to this album than your first two albums? One people can still get. I think Running With Scissors is still available. How different was your approach to this, not only because it is a little more of an introspective release, but it’s been a few years since you did the last album. How different was your approach in the writing and recording process?

Janet: Well, I think it’s probably best to explain it like the first album that you mentioned, I binned. I released it to people who supported me on Pledge Music, a crowdfunding website, so they could still have it. They could still have the digital download, but that was it. Then I recorded Running With Scissors, my official first album and I released it. But then the issue was I recorded a whole album called Hide and Seek. I hated it. It’s a really hard one to explain, but then that meant I made the second album because I had a deadline. I made the second in six weeks and that’s literally why I called it Running With Scissors because it’s something you’re obviously not recommended to do. You’re not supposed to make albums in six weeks. I put that out and I love it, but the difference really being is this album, Confessional took me five years to make. I allowed myself to have the time to do it after making a first album so quickly. And I think the big difference, as well as my first record was my first album. My song writing was very fetal. My voice was still very fetal. I think there’s some beauty in the naivety and the simplicity of the album because in that album, it really was just a case of, “These are a collection of the best songs I’ve written so far. I have done it and I’m 17,” you know what I mean? I love that energy and I’m so glad I have it, whereas this second album, Confessional, is definitely me older, more mature, hopefully more mature with my songwriting, all those kinds of things. So I just hope it’s better.

Toddstar: With you exposure on The X Factor way back when, almost a decade now, have you found that some of that fan base has still followed you? Have you been able to still drag some of that fan base with you or do you find that you grabbed a whole new fan base? Because you mentioned you weren’t overly pleased with some of your previous releases or even Running With Scissors where you thought, “Okay, this was done in six weeks,” but yet it was a number one on an indie chart.

Janet: Yeah, no, I love the album. This is the thing. I love that album with all my heart and I still think it’s a great album, but a great album for where I was in my life, that kind of thing. I love it to pieces. I’m not hating on my album. I mean Hide & Seek, that one I do not like. It’s been great in the sense of I’ve managed to keep quite a lot of followers from The X Factor days, which is super cool, but I’ve also managed to, just with that, I remember there was a phase maybe two years after X Factor where you watch your social media numbers fall and everything just seems to decline, like your interaction, your engagement, seats at a gig. Everything goes down, and that’s obviously really disheartening, but I just had to power through. I still wanted to be in the music industry, whether those people were following me or not. So I felt like I had to stick at it and prove myself to be an artist and not just somebody who went on TV, do you know what I mean? And that really did benefit me because now at the minute, the audience is so varied. You have people who discovered me from TV. You have people who’ve discovered me from my YouTube channel or you’ve got people, weirdly enough, because we’re living in this year, I’ve got people discover my music through TikTok, So it’s bizarre.

Toddstar: We’re definitely in a weird stage and phase of musical life for artists because of COVID-19 and everything else. What for you has been the hardest part, especially with an album scheduled to come out in the middle of everything? What’s been the hardest part for you to tackle?

Janet: I think for me, obviously I feel like the world’s currently going through some great change though with the whole Black Lives Matter and stuff. That is insane and I’m so glad that we’re taking… Society’s falling apart because of COVID and that means we’re going to have to rebuild society anyway so I’m like, “Why don’t we rebuild it, but like not racist? That’d be cool. Let’s do that.” That’s obviously amazing. It’s just been difficult to… you feel so guilty to post about your album or whatever when you’re like, “There’s bigger issues than my album right now. There’s bigger things going on than my music,” do you know? And you’re very aware when you’re posting and you’re like, “I don’t want anyone to think I’m tone deaf.” That’s literally the opposite of what you want. But it’s also being aware that I’ve put five, almost six years of work into this, and not just me. People who were involved in the project, people who only really get paid when the album does well, that kind of thing, I don’t want to do them an injustice by not trying my best to get people to buy it and stuff, so it was just navigating the how to promote this without being completely just looking like a sociopath.

Toddstar: Well, that’s the thing. In my opinion, we need music right now. We need music more than ever; there are things out there where people like yourself, you’re willing to bare your soul and bring people in and bring them healing through your music or bring them joy through your music or help them realize that they’re going to be okay through your music. I mean, when you’re thinking about it and you think, “Oh, I can’t go out and promote this,” or, “I shouldn’t be promoting this,” is it ever a thing where you think, “No, I should be doing this because somewhere, some fan is going to send me a text or an email or something and say, ‘Thank you so much'”?

Janet: I just do the amount that I think is acceptable, because obviously that’s important, right? I definitely do get messages from people saying this album helped them and all that kind of stuff, and it makes me cry. It breaks me, you know what I mean, in the best, most beautiful way possible. But I also can’t ignore the pain of the black community right now. And music has so much more to offer. We owe so much in the music community to black people. We wouldn’t have so many of the genres, so many styles, so many things if it wasn’t for them. I think it’s knowing when to speak and then knowing when to be quiet and listen, and it’s trying not to occupy an exorbitant amount of space on social media.

Toddstar: You’re wise beyond your years, as far as that goes. What’s the one thing you miss the most about being able to get out there and do what you do the best because of the current situation of the world?

Janet: I think for me, I just miss playing. I miss having a room full of people. My audience is very varied, I love that the only reason that those people are in a room together is because of their mutual interest in my music because I look at the audience sometimes and I’m like, “You guys would never, ever be in the same room. That would just never happen.” But I love it. I definitely feel like there’s a beautiful community element. And I get to watch people meet each other for the first time, people I’ve seen their handles online talking and chatting and stuff. I miss that. I definitely miss just making people feel things. That’s the part of my job that I love. I just like making people sing and be happy or making people cry, because feelings, you know what I mean? That’s my favorite part of the job is just evoking emotions and I can’t do that. And I also just miss giving everybody a hug at the end of a show and trying to say, “Thank you for coming.” But it’s just weird now that I can’t play show, I can’t give anybody a hug. It’s just bizarre.

Toddstar: Back here in the states, we’re all dying for live music, especially here in Detroit. It’s insane. And there’s so many cool venues that are sitting vacant and they’re waiting for live music. With that in mind, have you already started thinking, “Okay, when life gets going again”… have you started thinking touring plans and how you’re going to integrate this new material into a show?

Janet: I definitely had a tour planned, but I had to pull the strings on that and cancel that. Now I’m kind of stuck because the issue that people won’t really realize as an issue, I’m a certain size of an artist. I’m not massive, but I’m not just starting out, right? I’m at a weird level, right? Whenever everybody comes to do shows next year, we’re going to be inundated with gigs to go to, right? And there’s only so many gigs that people can go to. I was intending on doing a headline tour, but I don’t think that’s the right move for me whenever this all opens up. I’m probably just going to try and get on somebody else’s tour, somebody that I like who else might be touring and maybe be their support act.

Toddstar: Well, let’s build on that. Who are the artists out there that you respect, admire, and you think you would complement not only them musically, but their fan base, but they would also complement you and your fan base to where you would want to pair up on a tour?

Janet: Oh God, I’ve no idea. I genuinely don’t know, but there’s definitely artists who my dream would be to support. Whether or not I complement them or they complement me, no idea, but I love Chris Stapleton. He is probably my biggest musical inspiration at the moment. I also love Joy Williams, so either of those would be swell.

Toddstar: Well, I would say sonically, I would have never guessed listening to your music that Chris Stapleton would have been even in the running, let alone number one.

Janet: Yeah. Well, it doesn’t really reflect in my music and that’s my biggest issue when people go, “Who’s your biggest influences?” I’m like, “Dude, I listen to so much heavy metal. That’s got nothing to do with my Celtic pop album.”

Toddstar: I love hearing that because I am a rock and metal guy at heart, which is why it dumbfounded me when… not in a bad way, but it was just when I first heard the first few tracks – the album really caught me.

Janet: Oh, amazing. I do get quite a lot of metal heads being like, “Hey, I don’t usually listen to your sort of music, but I really like it.” I’m like, “Thank you. I appreciate it.” It’s a definite thing. I love it.

Toddstar: Yeah. Well, circling back for a quick second, what songs do you see being the ones you look most forward to presenting to your fans once you can get back out there next year?

Janet: I think for me, I’m super excited to play things like “Sweet Sacred Friend,” that kind of up-tempo kind of jam. I know it’s a middle of the road kind of thing, but it feels up-tempo. That will be fun. But I also cannot wait to do… I can’t wait to do “Speak.” I know that it still makes me cry, but I think that’s the beauty in it. I can’t wait to be emotionally vulnerable with people again. I just live for that. That and “Better Now,” those really emotional, stripped back, just me and an instrument kind of vibes, I am excited for.

Toddstar: Is that how you see this tour going where you’ll do more of a stripped back or do you see dragging a band out with you?

Janet: Oh, I always have the boys. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I’m toying with doing track as well, so getting the track and getting the boys to play, because obviously there’s a lot of sounds on that record and you could never recreate that live unless you had a million pounds, you know what I mean? And so I don’t have that kind of money to do a tour like that. I would consider doing the track as well, but I think that’s where I would love having the sound of the album as well as the live music, but then being able to bring it down to just those little ballads as well.

Toddstar: I know you’re busy and have real world life stuff happening, so I’d like to close this out with one question – what album speaks so much to you in the history of music that you wish you could go back and be a part of it, whether you wrote on it, played on it, or you just sat in the recording booth while it was being recorded, and why that album?

Janet: One album. Okay. I think it’s a toss-up between Traveler by Chris Stapleton obviously, or Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Toddstar: Okay. Diverse albums. What about those two albums jump out at you?

Janet: I just think that I love the album Traveler so much that I just would have loved to have witnessed the vibe, do you know? It all sounds just so amazing. I don’t know. I respect the loads of the musicians that played on that record so I would have loved to have seen them in action. However, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, just they were in that big house together. It was crazy. It was mental. It looked like a laugh. So it’s kind of definitely two different energies going on right there.

Toddstar: Janet, again, I appreciate your time and I beg everyone who hasn’t done so to either go out and purchase the download, purchase the album, or just go to your Patreon and enjoy Confessional by Janet Devlin.

Janet: Thank you so much.

Toddstar: Thank you so much, Janet. We wish you well and hopefully next year you’ll be able to get that tour and really hope we can see this thing in Detroit, because I’d love to witness this thing live. I think it would be so powerful.

Janet: Oh my God. I’d love to come to Detroit.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, let’s try and make that happen, Janet. And we’ll talk to you soon when you have something more to promote.

Janet: Awesome. Thank you. Have a lovely day.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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