An interview with Janet Devlin
I spoke to Janet Devlin as part of the release of her album Confessional in order to gain more insight into the creative process behind the album. You can stream the full album here and read the full album review here.
Eimear O Sullivan, Musicngear: Could you talk us through your process of turning a demo song into a full production, and how you make sure that the finished song is in line with what you imagined it to be?
Janet Devlin: I think the demo-making process has changed a lot over the years. I used to just make sure to get a piano and vocal ,or just a guitar and vocal by the end of the day. Now it seems as though a lot more of the production ideas have been done in the writing rooms too. With this record, I did a lot of things in the box initially. So really laying out the blueprint for what I wanted the sound to be. Which meant using really whacky plugins that barely sounded like the real thing. I’ll tell you something for nothing, Irish instrument plugins are wrong on so many levels! But it was good enough to give a rough idea for when I’d be in the studio with the real players.
Eimear: Does writing a book add a whole new dimension to the songwriting process?
Janet: It allowed me the freedom to play more with metaphors. Because I knew that the truth behind the songs would be revealed in the book, I didn't feel like I had to try and squeeze all of my message into the song - so that was pretty freeing.
Eimear: Was there any particular track that was particularly painful/difficult to write?
Janet: Definitely "Speak". I went into that session thinking that it’d be fine and pretty easy enough to write. Oh how wrong I was! Even just laying down demo vocals and melodies, I was bawling my eyes out! It was painful but so so beautiful to finally get out what I’d held in for so long. I felt that my sexual assault “wasn’t that bad” so I never really spoke about it, never mind write about it. But it obviously cut deeper than I’d realised so I was very grateful to have JQ and Fiona in the room with me.
Eimear: You worked closely with producer Jonathan Quarmby for this record - what would your advice be to artists on finding the right producer to work with?
Janet: Oh gosh that's so hard! My experience on both albums was doing a writing session with the producers first. When I got the demos back, that’s when I knew they were the right fit. They’d both done a little something that gave even just the demo a footprint. I know this isn't true for all genres but it has been the way I’ve done it so far.
Eimear: After all the hard work you put into this album - how does it feel to be releasing it?
Janet: In equal parts terrifying and exciting! It’s out now so the terror has mostly dissipated though! It's obviously a strange time to be releasing music and a book when there is so much else going on in the world, but I am determined to make the most of it! Hopefully people will discover it at a time that's right for them, and I'm just happy that my music babies are now out in the world!
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