Conversations Radio Interview
Interviewer: Russ Davis.
Radio station unknown, but broadcast in 1992
Missed the first minute...
Enya: I was approached by WEA in England that they wanted the challenge that this music for a solo career and therefore it was a challenge for not just me but it was for them as well and it has worked so well...
Russ Davis: Let me ask you this question in a different way, do you get inspiration from sitting by the ocean, taking a walk in the forest because those are the sort of images that are conjured in my mind when I'm listening to your music. Do you get inspiration being in very quiet places, reading poetry, sitting in front of a roaring fire?
Enya: This is all so romantic...
Russ Davis: ...well, yes, that is what I'm saying, that's the sort of images that are conjured in my mind when I'm hearing your music or where does your inspiration or your vision come from?
Enya: It's more work than that for me and I'm a very private person but not with my music. It's the only time when I'm in the studio that I will open up to all of my feelings and this is quite an experience and that is what's coming across in the music. Fades into 'Caribbean Blue'
Russ Davis: The song 'Orinoco Flow', it certainly helped the song become more famous with the video which was very dreamy and certainly matched the feeling and the mood of the song itself. And as you said, film work and the visual aspect of music and those two things linking up have been important in your career. Could you give us a little bit more in depth thoughts behind that? I know that you mentioned that, or I know for a fact that the BBC had commissioned you to do some work for them and that working on films you made music for Green Card and L.A. Story, I think was another I've heard that you've made music for... Talk about your relationship between visual and film and video and music... 'Watermark' playing in the background during the interview.
Enya: Well, for 'Orinoco', the video, it came from the cover of the album, Watermark, and basically it's a picture of me but there are layers and layers of imagery that were hand painted on to the cover. And what we wanted... we were so happy with this cover... what we wanted was an extended version of this for the video that was of me but there was this beautiful imagery revolving around me and this is what we achieved with the video. And, I'm quite happy with this because the music is very important to me and even though I am there visually I like the pressure or the onus is never on me entirely. And that's how I feel about the music, I am there with the music but the music is so strong it reaches out to people on its own. Fades to 'Ebudę'
Russ Davis: Singing in Gaelic on that song, that is Enya, she's my first guest for this hour of Conversations. When you experienced the success of the song 'Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)', was it overwhelming for you? Did you think that that song, specifically, was going to be that well received? Was that a surprise?
Enya: I didn't know, about working on 'Orinoco', because it is true, this story we had it shelved a few times and it was a very difficult song to work on... we would work on it for a while, forget it, go back to it but, again, because we had the time, which is important to point out, we were able to therefore at the end listen to it and say "this is good" but all the time it was an album track and at the very end it was only decided then this might be good as a single. But even then, as singles go, it's very different.
Fades to 'Orinoco Flow'
Russ Davis: We're talking to two of the great ladies of new age music this hour on Conversations. You're listening to the music of Enya, later on we'll talk to the great keyboard player, Suzanne Ciani but coming up we'll talk with Enya about creative process, where does this mystical, melodic, wonderful music come from? We'll find out when Conversations continues. This is Russ Davis, I hope you're enjoying this hour of Conversations as we talk to two of the great ladies of new age music. Suzanne Ciani later on... right now more with Enya. Enya, tell me how you create... do the melodies, and from what I know of your music and have heard a little bit from you, it seems the melodies are the most important things in the beginning of everything, the whole process. Ah, how do they come to you and how do you put them down? Keyboards? Strings? How?
Enya: I work with the piano, which is the main instrument, and my voice and a lot of the time I will sing the melody accompanied by the piano and I will record all my ideas and then I listen back. And every day I've got to do this and sometimes I feel I have no idea what to compose, I have no feeling what's going to happen but I still have to be very disciplined and to sit and to try and eventually, it could be a matter of weeks, it could even be a matter of months, and then a melody will evolve but I always feel there are no short-cuts because I feel it takes all that time to work up to a melody that's going to move me.
'River' plays in the background
Russ Davis: Ummm... a melody that's going to move you. I guess that's important to almost any artist because if it doesn't work for you there's no way you can, truthfully, take it the next few steps and or get it across to someone. And speaking of the next few steps, once that melody is born inside of you, you say you work with Nicky and Roma Ryan... How did it first come about that you met them and that you developed a working relationship with these two people? Have they been friends for a while? Was it basically just a working relationship from the beginning? Or what's the story there?
Enya: Well, I met them through my family. They were working on music for a long time and Nicky was working with them but I felt on conversing with him he had a lot of musical ideas and wasn't a musician and I was drawn to him because of his ideas. I felt these are fascinating ideas. He loves experimenting with sounds and I got to talk to Roma as well and I got to know her and her love is for art and for poetry. And, basically I was drawn to them, I wanted to work with them but I didn't know what type of music that would evolve because I wasn't composing at the time. So, it was very much a case of, we put a time limit on it, and we got to work together and I was in the studio, at the it wasn't a studio, it was just basically a room with a piano and I was concentrating on my performance of any song... whether it was traditional Irish or a song I would have liked and after this I started to compose my own melodies and so therefore they've been there from the beginning. And its strange as well because Roma didn't decide, at that spot, that she would write lyrics, it happened from her involvement in the music with me that she felt she wanted to express her feelings through lyrics. And so, it is very special between us...
Russ Davis: Could you imagine working that closely with anyone else at this point?
Enya: I would, ah, I would sympathize would anybody having to work with me that closely...
Russ Davis: Well that speaks volumes... We won't ask you to get further into that... You're a little bit of a stern task master or your quirky things about the way you work?
Enya: I'm a perfectionist and I can be difficult in the studio...
Russ Davis: Enough said.
Fades into 'Shepherd Moons'
That's the title cut from Shepherd Moons. Enya on Conversations... There's another artist who has been active in the last few years just as you have named Basia, who you may follow, and she does something that's most interesting with multitracking her voice. Four or maybe five times to create this close harmony, three or four part harmony but that's all her over own voice and you do the same with a totally different effect, a lushness and a fullness that just creates the mood, helps set the personality and the mood of the music. How did you first get the idea of multitracking your voice like this?
Enya: This is one of the ideas that Nicky had. He wanted to hear what it would be like to do layer upon layer with the voice especially with one voice...
'Storms In Africa' in background
...but it's something that takes time because I remember trying it a few times with him and it didn't do anything, there was no particular sound to it and I think it's because you have to believe in it when you do multi-vocals. And there's one track in Shepherd Moons, and it's the only one where I finally sat down and I said "I'm going to count how many times I recorded my voice" and it was the track 'Angeles' and I counted 500 vocals. That's not counting the ones that I've corrected for harmony, for tuning reasons but I didn't feel like I sung 500 times because I got so involved with the melody that you sing and you keep singing to build up this sound. And you have to be very emotional about it and it's always in one ear you hear the build-up of it and you're singing spontaneously all the time and you have to give so much for each time you repeat this and that is the end result we get.
Fades to 'Angeles'
Russ Davis: Well, if you needed to be relaxed, the you chose the perfect time to listen to Conversations. This week we're talking to Enya and enjoying her beautiful work and I hope you enjoyed all of that great music from two of her releases, Shepherd Moons and Watermark. This is Russ Davis. Stay tuned because, coming up, we'll talk to another wonderful keyboard player just like Enya. She doesn't make music with her voice, certainly with her fingers and those great keyboards. We'll talk to Suzanne Ciani when Conversations continues...
Note: Transcribed by Doug A. Chan, and posted to the Enya Mailing List. Doug made these comments about the transcription at the time of posting it: "I caught this on a local jazz station several months ago... If many of the sentences seem awkward or unintelligible, remember this was transcribed from a radio interview."