The Voice and the Soul
Sorrisi e Canzoni (Italy) 21 December 1997
In ten years she sold at least 40 millions of records all over the world: and now, with her latest album, she is at the top of the European charts. But she doesn't consider herself a rockstar at all.
"My music", she explains, "mixes ancient Irish songs with electronic acoustics to gladden the spirit."
Enya has as much intensity as her music has. Tiny, with wide deep eyes, she talks to you with her low and calm voice. She doesn't act, she doesn't pretend to be a celebrity, although the amount of the sales of her records that makes you giddy: 40 millions of copies all over the world and now, with her latest album "Paint The Sky With Stars" (the collection of her best and two unpublished songs), the first place in Europe. She simply talks about what it means for her to compose music, about her emotions, about a secret and magic connection with nature. She defines her music mystic, ancient, a wise mixture among far off Irish songs and refined electronic acoustics.
Grown up in a rural area in Ireland, in a family of musicians and fifth of nine children, Enya made her debut in the folk group of Clannad. Then she needed to go along alone. And it was a success with four albums, each one better than the others: "The Celts" ('87), "Watermark" ('88), "Shepherd Moons" ('91) and "The Memory of Trees" ('95).
RB: Why a collection album?
Enya: It was interesting. For me it was like to leaf through a musical diary. Each song took me back in time.
RB: There are also two new songs: "Paint The Sky With Stars" and "Only If..."
Enya: To compose is a work that in the extreme involves me totality, a journey during which I give up imposing my rhythms. I let flow, I let the way to evolve by itself. For example, for "Paint The Sky With Stars" I have been trying hard to concentrate, for a long time, to find a positive melody. Nothing to do. For weeks, I have been listening to the inside of me, I have been studying and thinking. Nothing. Then, a day, I played it from the beginning to the end. It came out simply like a wave, a hymn.
RB: And inspiration? Where does it come from?
Enya: From my life, from my feelings. From people I know, landscapes, journeys. Everything I catch in moments for me precious enters in the melody.
RB: Which song, among those collected ones, do you love most?
Enya: Orinoco Flow. It is tied to excitement. Every time I listen to it, I smile.
RB: How do you work on lyrics?
Enya: My friend and collaborator Roma takes care of lyrics. She is the only one able to incorporate words with what my music raises up. She links up with the Celtic mythology, with the Greek one, with terms able to evoke the worlds of imagination, with those metaphors that have a positive sense.
RB: "Positive" thinking is fashionable, what does it mean for you?
Enya: It's a shove that lifts you, takes you, and makes you feel light. There is a poem written by the French poet Apollinaire which voices what I feel. It says something like this:
Don't you think that it is wonderful? This is what a lot of people would like to be able to do in their life but they are afraid. They stay behind, they don't let themselves go. Imagine: to let oneself go, to fly, to be oneself... Have you in mind that feeling which takes you when you want to reach something but you always stay behind?
RB: Yes, of course. Why do they stay behind, as you say?
Enya: Because there is always a factor of risk and people are always afraid. They need a small shove, to take what can make them feel alive.
RB: You are defined a "New Age" singer. But when you tell to go out of the limit or when I listen to the words of your songs, so resounding of magic worlds and living nature, the first English Romantics, poets such as Coleridge or Wordsworth, come to my mind...
Enya: Yes, it is true, after all those poets were already "New Age": they composed at the beginning of a new century, the nineteenth one. The difference is that for them composing was only inspiration. For me it is a very hard job.
RB: How many hours do you work?
Enya: I work very much: from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. And I work apart in isolation from everyone.
RB: And what about your personal life?
Enya: I have always been retired inside of me; I used to tell me that I hadn't time. Today it is different: I am less intransigent with people near to me. And moreover, with a so large family as the one I come from, I think I don't need, at present, to create another one.
RB: Did money change your life?
Enya: I took something: the studio where I work, for example. I have bought this year a castle near Dublin, where I live. I went into it and I felt I wanted it. In the middle of a valley, surrounded by trees and bushes, facing sky. There I really feel at home.
In the photo, Enya (real name in Gaelic Eithne Ni Bhraonain, Gweedore, Eire, 17/05/1961, Taurus). She made her debut in the group Clannad and as a soloist, in 1988, with the album "Watermark". She won two Grammy Awards with the albums "The Memory of Trees" and "Shepherd Moons". Martin Scorsese made use of her voice for the movie "The Age of Innocence" (1993). Nick Ryan, former manager of Clannad, is her producer and sound engineer; Roma, Nick's wife, writes her the lyrics.
Note: Transcribed by Rosa Baldocci. The Italian title of the article is La Voce e l'anima.