mean have I ever dreamed of dancing on the tables? Being a different person?
A gardener maybe here outside in the park? No, if you like your work as
much as I do, you donít want to be a gardener, not even in this wonderful
park. And if I was married and had children, I wouldnít be at this point.
And I never felt that it's the fault of the music that it is like that."
Enya About Her Solitariness
Sueddeutsche.de (Germany) 4 November 2005
Enya whose real name is Eithne Ni Bhraonain was born on May 17, 1961,
the fifth of nine children, in County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland.
The singer and pianistís first hit was ďOrinoco FlowĒ in the '80s. Since
her song ďOnly TimeĒ was played with the pictures of the terrorist attacks
in New York on September 11, 2001, she is well known. She has sold more
than 60 million records until now. She lives in Ayesha Castle, a castle
in the south of Dublin. Her latest album called ďAmarantineĒ will be
released on November 18th.
An interview by Gabriela Herpell
SZ: Itís sunny today. Completely atypical for Ireland isnít it?
Enya: Yes, itís incredible, itís no mistake, no clichť, in Ireland
itís nearly always clouded and foggy. And itís raining a lot. But today
everything looks different, people are smiling. And everyone talks about
the weather, just because itís so unusual.
SZ: Do people here only talk about the weather when the sun is
Enya: No. itís raining all the time. The rain is part of the
SZ: The Irish soul Ė one thinks of fun, of a pub where someone
plays folk music on the accordion, where everyone sings and drinksÖYour
music however is neither wild nor folkloric, but itís mysterious and
Enya: Do you think so?
SZ: Youíre also called ďThe voice of silenceĒ and your singing
is often described as a mysterious whisper.
Enya: Thatís maybe because I sometimes sing in the ancient Gaelic
language with which I grew up.
SZ: In German ears, your music reminds of elves and melancholy.
Not necessarily Irish, but not terrestrial, either: like from a world
Enya: The mystic is deeply rooted with Irish culture as well
as the melancholy. But Iím really closer connected with classical music
than with funny pub-music like by the ďPoguesĒ.
SZ: CNN underlayed the pictures of September 11, 2001 with your
song ďOnly TimeĒ and nearly all channels followed. How did you think
Enya: The collapsing towers we saw in the news again and again
Ė the grief was awful. But when I heard that many people associated
my song with comfort and shelter, I was happy.
SZ: The person at the channel, who had the idea, really gave
you a comeback. Your song, that was already a year old, raced to number
one not only in Germany.
Enya: I always sold enough records, so it wasnít really a comeback.
But I was surely less known before. After September 11, suddenly a lot
more people knew me. I was suddenly invited to thousands of parties.
But I kept on doing what I love to do: living a normal life.
SZ: Well, your life isnít that usual. You spend most time in
a studio and youíre known for working several weeks and months on a
single song. You must be a perfectionist.
Enya: Yes, I think so. It takes long until I think that a song
has the emotional expression it needs.
SZ: I read that you donít care about anything other than music
when you work on a record. So again no time for cozy evenings in the
Enya: I canít take diversion when Iím working. The only persons
that I see in these times are Nicky Ryan and Roma Ė my producer and
SZ: Is this exclusiveness necessary for you?
Enya: In the last weeks before the deadline, yes. But usually,
I live a a normal life. I just work from Monday to Thursday and have
SZ: You live very secluded in a castle.
SZ: In the past, you hardly gave interviews. Youíre surrounded
by an aura of mystery.
Enya: I have always been withdrawn and even the imagination I
had to dress up every day and, like today, drink tea in front of an
open fire with a journalist is horrible. So I rarely do it.
SZ: Then tell us today, quickly: How does a lazy Enya-weekend
in the castle look like.
Enya: I live a withdrawn life, but that doesnít mean that I donít
know what to do on long weekends, you know. I donít shout it from the
rooftops, but I live like every normal person: I invite people, go for
a walk and read.
SZ: And you really live completely alone in your castle?
Enya: Well, I have staff.
SZ: And lots of rooms.
SZ: And you donít hide a partner in one of them?
Enya: Not at the moment. It doesnít go with my work. Itís very
difficult to find someone who understands my engagement for the music.
SZ: But you have the long weekends on which you could search
Enya: In some periods of my life, I had partners. But I find
long relationshipsÖwell, how can I say it without appearing strange?
Iím too much devoted to my music. I know that some people think that
it sounds sad, but believe me, Iím happy.
SZ: Youíre a merry loner?
Enya: If it means that I like being alone Ė yes.
SZ: But youíre from huge Irish family, you have eight siblings.
Enya: There was always so much going on at our home. I needed
delimitation rather early. I needed space for myself, but it isnít easy
to find this space between all these people. On the other hand, you
have so much space inside this family, between all these people thereís
empty space that is caused by the fact that you donít get attention
all the time.
SZ: Hm. And I always thought that it was fun being a member of
such a big family.
Enya: I often hear that, but only from people who come from small
families. Nine children are a lot and fact is, in such a huge group,
you arenít close to anyone. Silence is luxury. For me it was a big day
when I went to boarding school. Then I was finally independent and could
decide what Iíd do on this or that day. You canít decide anything on
your own in a big family. Thereís always someone to answer for you.
Itís a big ďweĒ and I was happy when I wasnít part of this ďWeĒ anymore.
SZ: So you were very lonely in your big family?
Enya: I was different, you know. I was very young when I got
piano lessons together with my sisters in a convent. Classical music.
For my sisters it was duty, but I put all my energy and passion into
playing piano. And sometimes I think that it was my chance getting space,
my room for myself getting distance towards my family: By finding something
for myself, something I could have on my own, because no one else was
really interested in it.
SZ: I understand. Silence is like a pause for you.
Enya: I started right after boarding school making music, and
I just didnít think about it then, whether and when it would be time
to marry and have children.
SZ: To some people it just happens.
Enya: Of course, it could have happened, but it didnít. Everyone
in my family married late. It never seemed to be a priority. Today,
I make the decisions on my own and Iím very happy about it. I like company,
but then I want to have a break again: time for me.
SZ: Did everything happen as you imagined as a child?
Enya: Oh yes. Iím happy to have found something that I like as
much as my music.
SZ: And you have become the person you imagined to become?
Enya. I feel that I kept being myself.
SZ: Have you always sorted out with yourself?
Enya: What do you mean?
SZ: You never wished being different? Being able to do something
better? Being funnier, more beautiful or sociable? Sometimes itís like
Enya: I have always been shy. In former times, I wasnít happy
with that, but today I accept it and live my life after it. And I dare
to express something private like emotions in my music and make it visible
for the public. I also like painting, but itís difficult for me as it
shows to much of myself. If it is included in a song, itís less a problem
SZ: And now I wanted to lead you away from singer Enya and talk
about the private person.
Enya: You mean if I ever dreamed of dancing on the tables? Being
a different person? A gardener maybe here outside in the park? No, if
you like your work as much as I do, you donít want to be a gardener,
not even in this wonderful park. And if I was married and had children,
I wouldnít be at this point. And I never felt that itís the fault of
the music that it is like that.
SZ: But you donít look like a woman who has nothing than her
career in her mind.
Enya: Thatís not the point. I am my music, you see. And when
I find it important to separate the working place from home. Surely,
there were times when I was very lonely and I leaned back and thought:
Did you want that? It needs so much power moving on, getting better,
doing nothing else. But it always leads to the same: Thereís nothing
Iíd rather do, no place Iíd rather be than with myself.
SZ: Everything had been different. Years ago, you performed live
together with the family band Clannad. There was great mood, an audience,
a feedback. Do you miss it sometimes, today?
Enya: No, I donít. I have an enormous feedback, although not
live. Those people who sing and play live in the pubs here in Ireland
or listen to bands are keen on the traditional Irish music. Thatís their
world. I like these happy folk songs, too, but what I like better is
silent music. When I started composing my own melodies in the 80s, it
was even a big risk. The music I made didnít exist then. No one could
say whether it would succeed. My songs have never been modern, or were
in keeping with the times at least.
SZ: At the same time another woman, nearly at the same age, was
successful, only that her style was exhibitionism. Today, you nearly
sold the same number of records. Didnít you never want to be as cool,
tough or sexy as this woman Ė as Madonna?
Enya: I rather listened to The Police in the '80s.
SZ: Have you ever had green hair then? Or red, or striped? Or
maybe too short skirts?
Enya: No, my hair has always been black. Iím not this kind of
person who experiments like this. I had a big change only one time,
when I was 18. I cut my long hair then, which I had had all my childhood.
And that was it with my long hair.
SZ: You must have looked like a black haired princess when you
were a child. Like princess Enya after which you was named?
Enya: Unfortunately, it isnít known how she looked like. We just
know her story.
SZ: And how is it?
Enya: Itís tragical. It was prophesied that the princessís husband
would kill her father if she ever married. The king brought her to a
lonely island where no men existed. But one day, a boat sank in front
of the island and one of the persons who had been shipwrecked was washed
ashore clinged to a part of the wreck.
SZ: And coincidentally he was young, unmarried and handsome.
Enya: Anyway, she married him. And her father even agreed, because
they met under these unusual conditions and the prophecy couldnít have
meant something like this.
SZ: Thatís a nice little story!
Enya: If there wasnít the end. The husband killed the father
then, of course. It happened when they were hunting, I think, or was
it in a war? Anyway, the husband accidentally shot the father-in-law.
In Ireland a lot of people are called after such mythological persons,
whose stories often end really dramatically. The Irish love stories
that stir them, storytelling is a big thing here.
SZ: But you donít want to tell me that the Enya-myth kept you
from marrying until now.
Enya: No, my grandfather proposed this name to my mother then,
he new the tale, but he didnít really know how it ended. Roma found
out about it later.
SZ: The couple Nick and Roma Ryan are very close to you. Nick
is your producer, Roma writes the lyrics. How comes that someone like
you doesnít write the lyrics on your own?
Enya: It started like that and it stayed. When we produced the
first record, I composed melodies and only thought about instrumental
music. I didnít know then that I would write real, closed songs.
SZ: But who then told you to write closed songs?
Enya: Nicky Ryan. Nicky was the recording engineer of Clannad,
the one who recognized my talent. We left the band together.
SZ: There had been quarrel before, hadnít it?
Enya: Yes, Nicky and the band had different opinions about music.
SZ: It is said that the band lacked vision. Wasnít it difficult
to leave the Clannad-family in hostility?
Enya: No, the band didnít offer me a different choice. I was
background singer, one of many, just another unimportant member. No-one
was interested in my other talents, I wasnít allowed to write songs
on my own. Then Nicky came and he had the idea about what we could do
SZ: And with you, he could finally live his vision?
Enya: Well, the sound with which weíve been successful for years,
really was his vision. And today he still tells me when a song is finished.
It was one of his first ideas that I should sing all the voices, and
because his wife liked writing poems, she wrote the lyrics. She found
the right words for what I wanted to express right from the start. Today,
we know each other better and Roma knows well what I am like and that
I donít feel the desire to write lyrics on my own.
SZ: Sounds rather symbiotic. Are Nicky and Roma a kind of replacement
for a family?
Enya: No, they are my business partners and my best friends.
They live close to me and thereís no one I spend more time with.
SZ: And friends are those people one can choose oneself.
Enya: Exactly. The welcome counterpart to family.
Note: Transcribed by Book of Days.
The Amarantine promotional tour finds Enya willingto answer more personal questions, and answering them more directly, than she has since Shepherd Moons.