As the dawn of a new year approaches I find myself contemplating all the things the I've done in my short musical career. Not just in 2015 but back to when I started out in 2011. A lot has happened in such a short period of time. There've been ups and there've been downs but I have no regrets in what I've done and the choices that I've made.
I've come to realise that the question from people has always remained the same. "Has X Factor hindered or helped you?" or something of a similar vein. The answer had been ever-changing but then again, so have I. In the beginning my goals were clear; I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to create music, make albums and play my songs to people. So way back when (even during the show) my answer to this question was always hazy. I appreciated the platform the show was giving me, along with a fan base that followed - although I was slightly torn in some ways. When people would congratulate or compliment me I didn't know how to take it as I was just being known as a 'karaoke singer' and that was extremely difficult for me to process, as it went against my primary purpose of what I wanted to be known for (also maybe my incapability to take a compliment in general didn't help the situation!)
As I moved forward and pursued my dream of being the artist I wanted to be, I found labels and managers to be on a different page. I ended up declining deals, changing management and throwing away an entire album. At that time I was just a money sponge that people intended to wring dry until the point at which I'd reached my sell by date. Within this period the answer to the X Factor question was still unclear as I had yet to make my record or release any of my own music. Fast forward to 2014, I'd made an entire album and two EPs. The question was the first thing upon any journalists' tongue. This is where my sanity began to slowly unravel. I was sitting on a collection of music I'd worked upon for some time and no one seemed to care. I began playing the world's tiniest violin to pacify the childlike tantrums of the "tortured artist" that lay within. No one wanted to know me. Radio wouldn't touch me or my tracks, or give me anything more than a spot-play, as they refused to air the music from anyone of a TV talent show past. Television was the same, they were exhausted with personalities from reality shows so they'd stopped taking people on. There was hope though - from the refusals came proposals. If I could go away and prove to them that I wasn't just another fair-weather fame hunter and that I was genuine in my pursuit of being an artist then they wouldn't be opposed to playing my music. There was a silver lining! I just had to go and work harder, write more and delve deeper into the world of indie music.
So that's what I did, I went on to create two more EPs and I've embarked upon writing album number two. I'm not going to sit back and say it's been easy. At one point in 2014 I was living on £25 a week, struggling to pay rent and to be quite honest battling some inner demons while doing so. I also lived with my manager for a year during the time I was recording the first album (for the second time!).
I've talked to lots of people and read numerous pieces on what their life has been like after TV. Most describe it as the "worst thing they've ever done" or "the end of their career". Most of these people I now know have quit music altogether. I'm not going to lie; this confuses me to no end, as most have been previously quoted that "Music is their life" and "I'll never stop being an artist" or something to that nature. What perplexes me is that just because their time on television has ended and the post-show gig circuit has dried up, they seem unwilling to put in the hard work necessary to move on and do their own thing. I know from personal experience how much of a difference there is going from mass industry budget and promotion, to having to create a buzz and maintain a fan following on your own. One minute you're playing Wembley Arena and the next you're in a small town you've never heard of, playing at the annual switching on of the Christmas lights - but not actually switching them on because you're not the freshest thing off the telly. I've come to find that once people have stopped having their career handed to them on a plate, they've become miserable with having to work for it and pursue it. They seem happier to go home and continue the life the once lived, only to spew spite at the very name of the show they came from. That for me was the easy option, however I'm not one for the easy way out or biting the hand that fed me.
I've learnt a lot in the last few years; how to make music that I'm proud of, tour the UK and USA and most importantly create the music I've always want to release using small budgets. I've also learnt how to support myself financially by manipulating the developments of modern day technology. By doing online shows, keeping up a good merchandise store and posting regular content on my YouTube channel I've managed to put myself in a financially solid position. This enables me not only to feed myself, but also feed the musical dream that I will continue to pursue. Now when the question is posed "Has the X Factor hindered or helped you?" the answer is clear. It helped. Though difficult to realise at the beginning it's become clear now that it has. As I'm evolving I'm learning how to use it to my benefit and to not recoil when the words are spoken. To this day, people are still discovering my audition clip and nine times out of ten they're extremely positive about it. I've managed to maintain the most loyal and loving fan base from doing the show. They have been ever so patient with me in my dream and have been the most supportive people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
So, when this question is still posed by the media to generate a response that they assume will become more bitter and indignant, the answer hasn't changed. So am I "Cutting Ties" with the X Factor completely? No. Am I still going to keep carving a name for myself within the industry? Yes. Am I having fun whilst doing it? Hell yes.
Janet's Christmas E.P 'December Daze' is out now