Radio Interview: KSCA
KSCA 101.9 FM (USA) 18 January 1996
Merilee Kelly: It's twenty minutes 'til two, and she made it! Enya is here. Welcome!
Enya: And welcome to you... thank you!
Merilee Kelly: It's so nice to have you here. I know you don't do a whole lot of radio, and interviews, and things like that.
Enya: No, I don't. But when an album, when I release an album, I like to go around and talk about the music. But it's only for so many months, and then that's it for me.
Merilee Kelly: I know over in the UK, the music press can be brutal. They can, you know, say wonderful things about you one week, and the next week, you're in the can. How have they treated you over there?
Enya: Well, I think they find it, they find me quite confusing. Because, they know the music, but they don't know anything about me. Because I keep a very private lifestyle so they end up making up stories as such. But I don't really concern myself too much about them.
Merilee Kelly: Well, I know pretty much it's unanimous with most of the press and fans. You've sold twenty million records so far. You know, maybe next week it'll be twenty-one million. You know, people are really drawn to your music and like it a lot. We'll just set things up here by playing 'Orinoco Flow', in case you're going, "Enya, Enya... I know the name... why can't I place it?" ['Orinoco Flow' begins playing] Sounds a little something like this, and then we'll talk about Enya's new album...
'Orinoco Flow' played to completion.
Wanted to let every last note ring out on that one. From Enya... 'Orinoco Flow'... "Sail Away, Sail Away". I was asking you while the song was playing - there is something that I cannot put my finger on about that song. It's either the theme to the western TV show Bonanza or some sort of musical about the Old West, that "duh-da-duh!" Was any kind of conscious influence there?
Enya: I think one of the big influences is from the producer, Nicky Ryan, because his musical influences are from Phil Spector. You can hear the "Wall of Sound" and the Beach Boys, and so his intention was to build up a big sound around that melody.
Merilee Kelly: Now, Nicky Ryan has been with you from the start? From your first album?
Merilee Kelly: What is this whole collaborative process like? There's three of you, right?
Enya: There's three of us.
Merilee Kelly: How does a song start?
Enya: Well, usually I write the melody. And then, myself and Nicky will get into the studio and start to arrange the melody. And, I perform all the music, and I use my voice as an instrument. And Roma's involved in writing the lyrics.
Merilee Kelly: Now, Roma is Nicky's wife?
Enya: Mm hm.
Merilee Kelly: Now that's a really unusual arrangement...
Enya: Well, actually myself and Nicky got involved together, firstly on soundtrack. So there were no lyrics. But on the project The Celts, I was asked to sing a song, to write a song. And, at the time I was arranging with Nicky, and writing the music and performing. So, no desire whatsoever to write lyrics! But Roma was actually writing poetry at the time, and she was involved, with listening in the studio, being the audience in the studio. So she was involved with the project. So, it was very obvious that she would write the lyrics.
Merilee Kelly: It must be an interesting dynamic, a married couple and you. It's kind of like, I think of teenage girls when they're friends... if there's two of them, it's trouble, but if there's three, there's somebody who can diffuse the situation. Are there moments when, maybe the two of them are not getting along great and...
Enya: It's more myself and Nicky. And Roma...
Merilee Kelly: Oh, really?
Enya: ... intervening. Yeah.
Merilee Kelly: We had a guy call in who wanted to know the same question that I wanted to know - and I'm sure a lot of other people. You have such a great relationship with these people, it's a formula that works. Has there ever been any discussion about expanding, bringing in another person to work with you?
Merilee Kelly: It's a setup that really suits the music. And, it was not like intentional how it would work. It just came about, working in the studio, experimenting with Nicky with the vocals, writing for soundtrack firstly. And so it's kind of, for me, and for Nicky and Roma, it's been step by step we've taken it. So, there is no set sort of rules, or no set sort of formula to the way we work in the studio. So it's difficult to know what we'll move on to next. We don't like to say: "Never. No we'd never do this," so we're very open to suggestion. But, we like the setup as far as there's only three people in the studio because the work is very personal, very intimate, very emotional. And that is very important to the album.
Merilee Kelly: And you must be so much in sync that. With a new producer you'd have to explain everything.
Enya: Yeah, because these are two people I've worked with from the start of my career. And, it's like working with Roma - when I play her a melody I don't have to tell her what the melody is about: she knows. So it's a wonderful combination.
Merilee Kelly: Enya is with us in the studio today at FM 101.9. You said they'd worked with you from the start of your career and that you've got this close relationship. Now, before that, you did spend some time in your family's group, Clannad.
Enya: Mm hm.
Merilee Kelly: That must have been a similar experience, a lot of closeness. Did it ever get too much?
Enya: I enjoyed the two years I was with Clannad. I enjoyed the touring. We toured a lot in Europe, and this was for someone who was studying music for six, seven years, and all of a sudden, I'm on stage. So the experience was tremendous. And I enjoyed it so much. Actually, that's where I met Nicky, because he was producing Clannad at that time. And, I felt after two years, I felt quite restless musically, because they were arranging Irish traditional songs, and writing their own songs. I wasn't writing at that time. So I knew I was going to move on at that stage. And that's where I got talking to Nicky about the multi-vocal idea. This idea he had, about one voice, and layering it many times. And he was curious to see what would evolve.
Merilee Kelly: And it's all your voice.
Enya: It is, yes. Yes.
Merilee Kelly: Let me tell you: after spending ten days at home for Christmas with my family, for you to be with your family for two years, working and related to them, you are a stronger woman than I.
Enya is with us in the studio today, and we'll play one from your latest album, and then talk a little bit about it. The album is called The Memory of Trees. Enya at FM 101.9.
'Anywhere Is' is played.
Merilee Kelly: FM 101.9. And Enya from the new album The Memory of Trees. Is that an environmental theme?
Enya: It's actually from Irish mythology, and Roma suggested the title. It's derived from the Druids, and they held the trees as very sacred, so they were very important. So I thought the title was very strong, but it can conjure up other sort of thoughts for a lot of people. And, I think Roma enjoyed that as well, that for people who don't know the connection with Irish mythology, that they will interpret, you know, their own thoughts with it.
Merilee Kelly: Mm hm. The thing I like about your music is that you provide lyrics and all sorts of information in your liner notes. The funny thing is, you can get just swept away just by your music. I'm a real lyric reader: the first thing I do is open up that CD jacket, and I've never opened up one of your CDs and looked for the lyrics. It just never even dawned on me. I can just be taken away by the music on one level. And the other thing is that you sometimes sing in different languages, so I just assume I'm not gonna get it anyway.
Enya: Yeah, yeah.
Merilee Kelly: That one obviously you're singing English...
Enya: But yeah, I've sung in Latin, in Spanish , on this one, 'La Soņadora' is Spanish. And in Gaelic, of course. 'Athair Ar Neamh' is in Gaelic.
Merilee Kelly: Just off the top of my head, I can't think of anybody in popular music right now who's recording with Latin lyrics.
Enya: Mm hm. It's to do with the melody. And when I played the melody to Roma, it was obvious that 'Pax Deorum' wasn't going to be sung in English. It had a classic feel, and she felt that Latin has a classic feel lyric-wise. So, she suggested it, and it's one of the things we do in the studio. We don't question why, we just record it, and listen back to it. And it's the same case with 'La Soņadora'. When she suggested Spanish, we tried it, and it worked.
Merilee Kelly: Now you were obviously born and raised, and still living in Ireland?
Enya: Yes, I am.
Merilee Kelly: And you grew up in a Gaelic-speaking environment. How typical is that for somebody in 20th century Ireland?
Enya: There's only a few of these communities left, Gaeltacht areas, that you're brought up speaking Gaelic. So there's not a lot of people in Ireland that actually speak Gaelic. But when I go home, to Donegal, to Gweedore, I still speak in Gaelic to everybody, they still converse in Gaelic.
Merilee Kelly: Now, Gaelic isn't like English in that it's just one language. There are different kinds of Gaelic, is that right?
Enya: Well, there's Scotch Gaelic [pronounced "gah-lick"] - which is very similar to Gaelic [pronounced "gay-lick"] - which is in Scotland.
Merilee Kelly: Mm hm. And in Wales they have some sort of a... I know they have a traditional language which I've seen some of the, you know, ten thousand letters, all vowels coming together.
Enya: Yeah. The connection for Gaelic is more with the Scotch Gaelic. Welsh is very different, very different.
Merilee Kelly: Well, I know that your fans are very rabid about you. I know somebody who was telling me that they went to the trouble to print out the lyrics to 'Anywhere Is', and hand them out to a bunch of friends, and they had an Enya sing-a-long.
Merilee Kelly: Good thing that one's in English, because I don't know about a roomful of people trying to sing in Latin. Your music is so different, and so personal, I guess. Where do the influences come from? I see just by you telling me about how your recording process is, it doesn't seem that you've brought a lot of outside elements into your music.
Enya: My influences musically are from Irish traditional music, and classical music, and also church music, hymns. I have a great love for hymns and I then note that I get very inspired by travelling, by being home in Donegal. All those wonderful moments I'll take with me to the studio, and they then become at some stage, a melody. That emotion that I loved at some stage will evolve as a melody.
Merilee Kelly: I wanted to play this for you, quickly, because I'm not sure how familiar you are with Laurie Anderson, but the first time I heard your music, it was one of those things where I couldn't put my finger on [' O Superman' by Laurie Anderson is played in the background] what was so familiar about it. And that's sort of a little bit like what you do, she's just got a voice...
Enya: Yeah. She's using her voice like an instrument, yeah.
Merilee Kelly: And there's a band, Art of Noise, that does things like that.
Enya: Mm hm. Yeah.
Merilee Kelly: I guess it makes it, even though you're using technology for that, it makes it so human because it's the voice.
Enya: Mm hm.
Merilee Kelly: Anyway. I always liked that song. It's 'O Superman', Laurie Anderson.
Enya is with us in the studio today. I wanted to play a song here. We'll talk about this in a minute, about your soundtrack work. This song appeared in L.A. Story.
Enya: Mm hm.
Merilee Kelly: And, well, we'll talk about it in a minute. It's Enya on FM 101.9.
'Exile' is played.
Southern California's Album Alternative: we are KSCA Glendale/Los Angeles FM 101.9. And Enya has been kind enough to spend some time in the studio with us this afternoon. 'Exile', that's on the Watermark album, but I remember that from the movie L.A. Story, which incidentally I rented the night before I moved out here, just to get me set for L.A. And, that's one of the few songs, you get so many soundtracks where artists are just, kind of - what's the word? - bought. They're commissioned to put a song on a soundtrack, and it's on there. I don't know if you saw the script, or what, but that song fit the movie and scene so amazingly well.
Enya: I had seen the script. And I saw the rushes of the film. And, to me, the visual is wonderful, it suits the melody, it suits the song, and it did work very well.
Merilee Kelly: I think that was from the scene, actually I think it showed up a couple times in this film maybe, but definitely with the airplane and the rain.
Enya: The storm. Yeah.
Merilee Kelly: I was practically in tears. And it's not an overly dramatic movie, but it was such a sad sentiment. Watermark, the album that you'll find that one on by Enya. We were talking a little bit about church, and how people perceive you to be a very spiritual person with your music. And so you were raised Roman Catholic?
Enya: Yes, I was. Yes.
Merilee Kelly: And...
Enya: And for me, I've derived from religion what I enjoy. And it's to go to church, but usually when there's nobody else there. I just love that moment, to just sit there. It's very peaceful, very calm, and very therapeutic, and it's wonderful.
Merilee Kelly: When you go to church in Ireland, is it the church that you grew up going to?
Enya: Mm hm. It would be. Yeah.
Merilee Kelly: Is it the typical Roman Catholic, stone church?
Enya: The old one you were describing. Yes, exactly that.
Merilee Kelly: Because I fall into this trap too. I think: "Oh, well Enya, of course she's exactly like her music," and there's candles going in every room, and you probably live in this big stone castle... How close to your music are you really? I mean, are you this ethereal, new age woman?
Enya: There's a combination. Because I'm very spiritual, but I have a great love for melody. This is very strong for me when I'm in the studio working. I just love a strong melody. And, I've heard this in Irish traditional music, in classical music, and again in hymns. It's very beautiful, and so therefore it's strange because when I'm in the studio, it's very different to my private sort of lifestyle. Because a lot of people tend to think that because I need all this time on my own in the studio, that I need time on my own, period. And that's not really true.
Merilee Kelly: So we'll see you down in the pub, you know, throwing back a couple pints, dancing on the bar?
Enya: I don't think so! But I like to travel, I like to catch up on family and friends, because they tend to get terribly neglected when I'm in the studio. Especially towards the last few months it gets very intense for me, so I can't have any distractions. So, definitely, catching up on family and friends is important to me.
Merilee Kelly: Is there ever going to come a day when we hear a commercial that says: "Coming to Los Angeles... Enya! In concert!"?
Enya: Now that's something else. At the moment, I have not toured with the music. And that's because of the time factor. Because it's one person performing the music in the studio, and, for example, The Memory Of Trees was two years in the making. And, after that, at the moment, I'm doing a promotional sort of world trip. And it'll take me to the East, and I'm in America at the moment, and then to Australia. So that'll take some time. And it's finding the time to actually adapt the music for stage. Myself and Nicky have spoken about it, but the way we see it is we'd like it very much a concert type: the orchestra, the choir, some modern sounds, the piano, myself. But we have to find this time.
Merilee Kelly: Just to even plan it would take a lot of time, and that's quite an undertaking.
Enya: Yes, it would be.
Merilee Kelly: That would just be awesome. I don't know, I'm not your manager or anything, but I'm thinking maybe a concert somewhere, maybe somewhere in Ireland, in the countryside, beautiful outdoor amphitheatre, and you broadcast it pay-per-view world-wide. There you go - you'd be set.
Enya: That would be interesting. That would be interesting.
Merilee Kelly: Fly a couple of us over there to see you.
Enya: But of course. But of course.
Merilee Kelly: That would be wonderful. So, you're doing the promotional tour. You've got the album, The Memory Of Trees and, where're you off to next? Japan? Is that right?
Enya: Yes, to Tokyo. And then to Korea, and Taiwan. Which are strange countries to go to, but this album has crossed over so many different cultures. And it's really wonderful.
Merilee Kelly: Maybe this'll be the time, maybe subconsciously, you'll pick up some influences from the Far East, and they'll show up on your next album.
Enya: They might, they might.
Merilee Kelly: I'd like to play from the new album, it's the final track. It's called 'On My Way Home', which you eventually will be. Now you're on your way to Japan. It reminds me a lot of 'Orinoco Flow', it's very reminiscent of that, and it's wonderful. We love the album, and I want to thank you for spending time with us this afternoon.
Enya: You're very welcome. I enjoyed myself so much here.
Merilee Kelly: Oh, good. Thank you. Enya with us at FM 101.9.
'On My Way Home' is played.
FM 101.9. Another gorgeous one from Enya's latest album, The Memory Of Trees. 'On My Way Home', and we thank Enya for spending time with us this afternoon.
Note: Notes or comments go here, if any.