Irish alt-pop songstress and self-described “little emo kid”, Janet Devlin, has never been afraid to be who she is. As a teen, she entered a singing competition to earn money to buy a drum kit to join an all-female punk band. A friend who loved her voice bought her a video camera on the condition that she would sing song covers and post them on YouTube-she did just that and built quite a following. In 2011, her mother encouraged her to audition for the United Kingdom’s hit television show, “The X Factor”; she became a contestant and finished in fifth place.
“It’s a part of my story,” says Devlin of her experience on show. “It was a lot of hard work. Everyone says it’s the easy way to get into the industry and that people who go on the show don’t actually deserve to be in the music industry at all. That was really hard to hear, because you’re working ridiculous hours and trying really hard to please all the people, and it was so much pressure. It was definitely not the easy way into the industry. It was good though because I got to build a fan base really quickly, and they’ve been so dedicated and loyal, they’ve really stuck by me. I wouldn’t be able to live this dream if it wasn’t for them, and the show gave me that platform,” she says.
Her individuality didn’t win her any fans as a youngster, however; when she went to secondary school, Devlin was into heavy music, wearing skinny jeans and Converse shoes when it wasn’t “cool”. “I was a little weird, a little different, and I was quite shy,” she recalls. “I got really badly bullied, to the point where I couldn’t ride the bus home from school, I couldn’t go anywhere, school was hard. The teachers never really did anything when the students would pick on me, and if they did, it wasn’t effective. It was quite terrible, and at one point, it even got physical,” she says of one incident of harassment that sent her to the emergency room, adding, “The internet was becoming a thing, and there were hateful things put on the internet by people who didn’t like me. It didn’t stop until I was about 15.” Devlin toughed it out and survived, learning a valuable lesson in the process. “I just think that if someone’s picking on you for being different, as rough as it is, it’s a good thing. It means that you’re you and you’re an individual and that is cool. When school is over, you’ll find in the real world that you’re much cooler of a person than the people who are picking on you, from my experience, anyway. You just have to be yourself.”
Years later, Devlin is a successful recording artist with a rabid fanbase who has even been asked to perform for the Dalai Lama. Take that, bullies.
The singer, who admits that she is a reformed grinch who never really liked Christmas music, will release a holiday EP, December Daze, on November 27th; “I decided this year I would be so festive, and I decided to write a Christmas song, “December Daze”. It actually wasn’t so painful, so I decided to make a whole Christmas album. When I started writing ‘Happy Holidays’, I got to the chorus and I thought ‘Oh my gosh. Everything has already been written.’ So I wrote the lyric ‘Have yourself a merry, happy, jolly, festive Christmas time.’ I just threw it all in there. Go hard or go home I say! It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a little upbeat ukulele song,” she says. “I managed to convince my merchandise warehousing team to form a choir for the day and do some backing vocals. I use the term ‘choir’ very loosely-it was mainly a lot of shouting.”
The album offers three original tunes and three covers of traditional Christmas songs. “They all mean something to me,” Devlin says of the songs she chose to cover. “I’ve done ‘Silent Night’ a cappella because as a kid, that was one of the first solos I ever got to sing in church. ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is on there, I just thought that one would be nice, and that’s what I want to do is have a merry little Christmas. Then there’s Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ which is the hardest song I’ve ever had to sing in my entire life. The making of the EP was good fun, and it warms my heart. I’ve jumped into the deep end when it comes to Christmas this year.”
December Daze is available for pre-order here: http://smarturl.it/DecemberDaze