Janet, who came to prominence on the eighth series of The X Factor in 2011 when she finished in fifth place at the age of 16, will be playing Worthing Pier on Thursday, December 1 and Drift Southsea on Friday, December 2.
The EP Little Lights, available now, captures a range of feelings associated with Christmas, including four originals (Wake Up It’s Christmas, Merry Christmas Mum & Dad, Something Beginning With Christmas and Christmas Kiss) and two covers (Merry Xmas Everybody and White Christmas).
“I just wanted to go into different moods this time. The record last year was mostly upbeat, mostly happy, and now this is like its darker cousin. I listened back to it and I liked it, but it felt like there were moods missing, and I wanted to capture those. I wanted to acknowledge that it’s not always eggnog and wrapping paper, and that there are other, more contemplative emotions kindled at Christmastime.”
Wake Up It’s Christmas offers a melancholy snapshot about heartbreak at Christmas. Merry Christmas Mum & Dad pays a tribute to Janet’s parents. Something Beginning With Christmas is upbeat with a driving rhythm and backing vocals from Janet’s friends, all about the anticipation and excitement at Christmas.
As for the covers: “I had always wanted to do the Slade one. I have always loved it. It has always been part of my life at Christmas, growing up, hearing it every year. But I wanted to do it in a very different way, a more mellow way.”
Consequently, it comes complete with gentle Eleanor Rigby-inspired strings.
And then there’s the festive staple – White Christmas, again with a delicate string arrangement, from composer and arranger Sally Herbert.
“I’ve always longed to make a record with a string quartet and was extremely fortunate to be able to work with Sally. She brought fantastic players into the A&B Studios London to add the extra dimension I was looking for. It’s made the tracks incredibly moving and given Little Lights a special Christmas sparkle.”
The bonus track is Christmas Kiss, a track actually released digitally last year.
Janet admits she has never been a Christmas fanatic: “I used to hate it, and so I made the EP last year to try to get myself more into the festive spirit. It gave me a Christmas purpose, and it worked! I never felt Christmas was for me. I don’t have any children, and I am too old for Father Christmas!”
The EP is the latest chapter in her career post-X Factor: “I was only 16 at the time, and I was very scared, but it did me good. It taught me about dealing with nerves and dealing with stage fright, and it was very helpful. And a lot of people have stuck around with me from those early days. The support has been great.
“It was scary, but you have got to do scary things in your life. You have got to be driven. I am a fear-driven creature. If I see something and I am afraid of trying, I will always try for it.”
The X Factor gave her a great fan base, she says: “It has been hard. But I just work really, really hard as an independent artist doing my own music. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it.”
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