Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin just released her debut album, Running With Scissors, in the US on OK! Good Records. She recently took to the friendly skies to perform her first-ever show in the US.
Read on to see what she had to say about working on the new album, covering The Cure, and visiting New York City for the first time.
You released Running With Scissors last year in the UK after a successful PledgeMusic campaign — was it always in the plans to release it in the US?
Oh, gosh yeah, that’s why it kind of took longer because I wanted to get it right. I would say to me it was more important than the UK one, so that’s why it did take a little bit longer.
How did your relationship with OK! Good Records come about?
When it came up I looked into it and checked it out and it just seemed to make sense. So when that offer came in I was like, “Oh, this is great. I really like what they do; what they stand for”. It was kind of like a US version of what my UK label does, so it just felt right.
If you don’t know me, you’re gonna know me after listening to this
– on the personal nature of her songs
A lot of your lyrics come from personal experiences — were you ever hesitant or nervous about making public those certain parts of your life?
Yeah — with the songwriting sometimes there’s a fine line with being personal and being too personal, and then a lot of it is personal but never personal enough. It was a bit weird to go, “If you don’t know me, you’re gonna know me now after listening to this”. I think it was probably weirder about the breakup songs. I’d only ever been in one relationship so everyone kinda knows who they’re about. So that was a bit weird, but apart from that I’m cool with letting people get in to my psyche a little bit.
One of the things I really enjoy about the album is how musically different each song is from the last — when you’re writing a particular song do you already have the melody/instrumentation in mind? Or does that come later?
I try to write these little lyric books and I write my diary entries but in poem form — so they’re already lyrics there about my life. And then I go in to a writing session and I might have a couple melodies but I’ll let someone play a couple riffs to me and if something stands out and I think, “Oh, that makes me think about this…”, or, “Oh, I’ve got a poem about that…”, so I’ll go to the book, get the poem, and then the music and the lyrics have this synergy that they both make sense to each other. That’s why every song does sound different, because we built the sound around the songs to help portray what I was trying to say.
A lot of people, myself included, tend to get a little touchy about covers of The Cure, but you’re rendition of “Friday I’m In Love” is really fantastic. Can you talk about why you chose to cover that song and the particular arrangement you used?
I was not gonna have a cover on the album, I was just gonna do all my own music, but then it was proposed to me by the producers. So we made a list and whittled it down and whittled it down and this song was on the top of the list. Obviously with the whole, “Do you cover The Cure?” thing being a bit risky because everyone loves The Cure, but that was my whole justification for doing it — because if everyone likes them… And we tried to put our own personal spin on it; we tried to make our own arrangement off that track — and not trying to rip them off and make people think that you’re just doing a cover of it, but to put your own spin on it and make it your own.
You cite the Red Hot Chili Peppers as one of your influences — I was wondering how they came to be a part of your musical repertoire.
My babysitters — who were my cousins — they were huge fans of the Chilis, and of Foo Fighters and Nirvana, so we would always have those kind of music stations on in the house. I remember distinctly when I was really young that the Chili Peppers were playing Slane Castle, and I couldn’t believe that my cousins were going to this gig and I wasn’t allowed to go — because obviously I was only like four or five, and I was so annoyed. I don’t know why I loved them so much, but I do, because they’re great. As a child people my age were listening to boy bands and the Spice Girls and all that kind of stuff. I loved their energy, loved their music — I just thought it was just the best thing ever. And I also had a bit of a crush on Anthony Kedis…
You’re about to play your first-ever show in the US tonight (2/16) in New York City — Is this your first time visiting the US as well?
No, I was here before, I was in Miami for a couple days. But I didn’t really see it, I didn’t get to go out or anything — I went out once and it was for half an hour, so I didn’t actually get to see anything. So I got the day off yesterday to actually see New York — which was amazing. Definitely one of the best days of my life.
Is there anything else you’re hoping to do in New York before heading home?
Just soak it in. I’d like to try more of the cuisine. Just see as much of it as I can and experience as much of it as I can. I do like the coffee culture though — love, love caffeine.
I really would love, love, love to tour the US
– on her future tour plans (p.s. we’d love that too)
Do you have any future tour plans? Either in Europe or here in the US?
I would love to either be a part of a tour or do a tour of the US; it just would be amazing. I’ll probably do some UK gigs, and maybe some European ones, but I really would love, love, love to tour the US.
We also put the word out on Twitter for some questions
We’ll be interviewing the talented Irish Singer/Songwriter @JanetJealousy next week! Have questions for her? Let us know!
— Emo At Heart (@EmoAtHeartSite) February 11, 2015
Her fans didn’t dissapoint. Here are a few of their questions:
— Ross McIntosh (@maverickboater) February 11, 2015
[John] Mayer. Mayer, please.
@EmoAtHeartSite What was the highlight of Janet’s My Delirium tour?
— Stuart Fuller (@full01) February 11, 2015
The whole thing was bonkers. I think probably the highlight though, because I never did it, never played my hometown — so, I played my first ever hometown gig which was just so surreal. I sold out the venue as well, which was something I was really scared about. I figured I would play here and no one would care enough to come — but people did and they turned up and it was actually really supportive. That was, I think, my highlight.
@EmoAtHeartSite what inspired Janet to record Whisky Lullabies in Gaelic & is she surprised at how well Suantraí Meisciúil has been received
— RadioDevlin (@RD120) February 11, 2015
When I grew up, my education for the first few years was in Irish, I learned to read and write in Irish. Then, I stopped, and went in to an English-speaking school. I always felt like there was this part of my past that I had somehow overlooked. And I’m not fluent anymore, which is really sad. But I was as a child, and I just felt like I had to give something to the years that I put in to learning Irish, give a little to my past.
Thanks so much Janet! We can’t wait until you’re back in the US so that we can check out a show in person.