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Interview: Janet Devlin

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For most people, the soundtrack of the festive season is Noddy Holder screaming “it’s Christmas!” at the top of his lungs, or The Pogues aggressively insulting each other through the form of song.

But underneath the commercial classics lies a whole world of original (and less over-played) Christmas music.

21-year-old singer songwriter Janet Devlin, who originally made her name on The X Factor before taking the independent route through the music industry, released her second Christmas themed EP this Winter: Little Lights.

This follows the success of her previous festive foray, December Daze, released last year.

Currently touring the UK and Ireland on her 14-date My Opium tour, Janet somehow managed to find the time to chat about her love for Christmas and the gift of music she’s giving to the world.

December Daze, her first festive endeavour, was released last year and reached #14 on the indie breakers chart.

“I did [a Christmas EP] last year and it just went down so well with everyone that I thought it'd be a shame not to [release Little Lights]! When I was home for the holidays last year I just felt inspired to write more festive themed tracks.

“My favourite track hands down is ‘Wake Up It's Christmas’. I always love my saddest songs the most; I'm a sucker for dark vibes. When I wrote it I tried imagining a worst case scenario for what could go wrong at Christmas: being dumped from a long term relationship seemed to be terrible enough scenario to write about! I think it's my favourite because it's sad but it also sounds a little hopeful.”

Little Lights is made up of a mix of original songs written by Janet, and a few covers of Christmas classics. Not on the EP though, is her all time favourite Christmas song ‘Fairytale of New York’.

“I think that's why I've never done a cover of it! It's just so perfectly embodies Christmas for me. I like the dark undertones married with the cheeriness of the melodies! For me it's just the perfect Christmas song!”

Delicate new takes on ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and ‘White Christmas’ come complete with the addition of a powerful string quartet against Janet’s soft voice.

“It was amazing to hear it on White Christmas”, Janet says recalling working with strings - something she says she has always wanted to do. “The song itself is obviously a Christmas classic so I wanted it to have that classic feeling - and what better way to do that then to add strings! I just loved having them on the EP in general, more specifically on my original songs because it's an unexplainable feeling having a song be transformed into score and performed to you!”

The end of Janet’s current tour sees her return home to Northern Ireland, playing gigs in Belfast and Omagh, where she can finally retire for the holidays before 2017.

“I'm really excited to play my home town. It's terrifying performing to people you know, but I'm a fear driven creature so it's the best way to end the year for me!

“It also means I'm close to home for the end of the holidays!” she laughs, “all I want to do is have a day in bed and watch movies, I haven't had one of those in such a very long time!”

Reminiscing, “Me and the family all go to church on Christmas Eve together. It's been something we've done every single year for as long as I can remember and actually way before I was even born! It's really nice to go somewhere that we can just go and be silent for a while within all the madness of the holidays.

“I only get to see my family around two times a year so finally seeing them and having some quality time with them is what I look forward to most! My mum makes some great home made meals so that's definitely a factor!”

So what’s the top present on Janet’s Christmas list this year?

“A Christmas number one."

Janet Devlin’s EP “Little Lights” is out now.

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