Out of the Celtic Mist
The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zeland) 28 March 2001
Enya is in Australia promoting her latest hit, A Day Without Rain. She's doing phone interviews for New Zealand in good time for Mother's Day.
ENYA, Enya, Enya. Dozens of times Enya and years of layering the dozens of Enya voices together into the decade-old sound and then, hey presto, another hit album, A Day Without Rain. And Enya, knowing she's still loved by millions, can set out on months of touring with dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews, to promote the new CD, as she did for those misty-music winners, The Memory Of Trees and Shepherd Moons.
She's in Australia, surely sleeping easy knowing the work is all over bar the shouting and, a few months after its release, A Day Without Rain has already sold six million copies. That adds up with the others to a grand total of 50 million worldwide.
When Enya returns to Ireland, soon, she's going to take a break, live in her castle and see where she'll go to from there, and with whom.
The British press has loved portraying her as immersed in her music to the point of forswearing any other aspects of life, a reclusive, lonely woman entirely dedicated to producing "celestial choruses awash in swirling waves of Celtic mist" (The Times).
It suited her at the time. She could hardly be known for her mystical contemplation of love and the sky and the universe one minute and be a party girl the next. It's not true now, she says. She's been getting out and about a lot more. "I have a very normal, happy life surrounded by people I love, family, children, relationships."
She worked five-day weeks with time off for holidays on A Day Without Rain and fostered a relationship to the point where it only needs time.
She's 40 but she has no intention of being a lonely spinster in Killiney Castle, her 19th century clifftop fortress overlooking Dublin Bay.
"Um, let me see. It's kind of difficult to answer that. I'm actually taking time out . . . to decide if it's the right relationship. Only time can be the decider if that's the relationship rather than 'Oh God I must be in a relationship'."
She might even think of children.
"If it happens it'll be wonderful. If it doesn't it'll be fine."
She might do a television special at the end of the year but her main focus is time out. She'll shift into her castle as soon as possible after her return from the promotional tour. It's a modest Victorian castle built in 1840 and had its interior virtually gutted in 1924. The last owners gave it a medieval overhaul and Enya, who bought it four years ago, is in the process of returning it to its Victorian splendour.
"When you walk in there are normal-sized rooms. It's like being in a house, not a castle. There are not vast ballrooms, no ballrooms at all. I fell in love with it. When it's finished I'll move in." Possibly with someone else - "one can't assume" - and perhaps with a castle cat, though that'll have to live outside. Her mother had a cat or two when Enya was growing up in Ireland.
"They're great company. I have to say I prefer them outdoors. My mum felt 'leave them outside'. If they're in they're all over the place."
Enya grew up with four sisters and a brother. Two of them are married to Australians and live in Australia. She is the third in the family.
"It was hard to hear my own voice. I loved the independence of boarding school and that has always been with me."
Her family is musical. Her father, Leo Bhraonain, was the leader of a band in which her mother, Maire, was the vocalist. He now runs Leo's Tavern, a celebrated music venue. From the family came the group Clannad and from Clannad came Enya.
Enya, after studying piano and classical music, played keyboard and did background vocals for Clannad for two years until Clannad's manager, Nicky Ryan, singled her out and, with his wife Roma, took over her care and management.
"When I started to write music Nicky and Roma were very honest. They said 'We believe in what you're doing. We don't know where it will go'. It was a situation where they had a great understanding of the music. I feel lucky in that way. If you're surrounded by the wrong people they paint a wonderful picture and all of a sudden it's not like that."
For years Enya lived with the Ryans and worked in a tiny studio behind their house. They still work together, but in a state-of-the-art recording laboratory overlooking the Wicklow mountains.
Enya writes the melodies, plays the piano and keyboard and sings the vocals while Roma writes the lyrics and Nicky creates the layers of overtracking. Enya says she likes to go to the studio as to a blank canvas, always treating the production as if it were her first.
"The way I work I concentrate on the music. Purposely, I leave success outside the studio door."
After the creative years of each collection are over she begins to worry about whether her work will have an audience. She never takes it for granted.
"I've seen so many people coming down."
Not her. Six million copies and Mother's Day hasn't happened in New Zealand.
Valentine's Day is the other big one for her sort of music. She had a signing session in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day and signed for couples "or for someone's husband, signed for his wife, so wonderful to see".
Note: Originally transcribed by Harry S.