Isis TV Interview
Eamonn O'Muiri:, Interviewer
RTE (Ireland) Late 1988
Eamonn O'Muiri: Hello and welcome. The show this evening will be directed entirely on the latest Irish singer who has put a record to the top of the charts, Enya.
Enya was born in Gweedore, Co. Donegal to the musical Brennan family, from which came most of the members of Clannad. At 18 years of age she started to play with Clannad, but this situation came to an end in 1982. She has her own studio in the house in which she lives, in Artane in north Dublin, the place in which she composes most of her music herself. Because she plays all the music herself, it is hard work... one musical instrument after another to be put on tape. It was there that we interviewed her and then we went to her home town. Here then, is Enya.
[Enya sings 'On Your Shore' outdoors]
Enya, did you ever intend to become a professional singer?
Enya: It wasn't on my mind. I preferred when I was younger to study classical music and I thought I would be teaching music. But it happened that Clannad asked me to perform with them once, and I began to play keyboards at first, and then they asked if I wanted to go abroad with them.
Eamonn O'Muiri: When you were in secondary school what kind of music did you like at that point?
Enya There was a lot of music going around, there was traditional music, and there was my father, he was in a showband and that music was popular. And I had a great interest in classical music.
Eamonn O'Muiri: And who else influenced you at this time?... There was a priest...
Enya: That was after I left school, Loretto Convent. I spent a year with Fr. O'Cheallaigh and he gave me alot of help.
Eamonn O'Muiri: What did you do with him?
Enya: I studied classical music with him.
Eamonn O'Muiri: And what pieces did you like at that time? [repeats] What pieces of classical music did you like?
Enya: Handel, Brahams, Mozart.
Eamonn O'Muiri: And it was after that you got the invitation to join Clannad.
Enya Thay wanted new voices, but they wanted to keep it in the family, and they knew I had a voice [laughs] And they asked me if I was interested in doing some vocals and then to do a song on my own. I did it just to see what it was like, and then I didn't look back after that.
[Enya sings 'Storms in Africa (Part I)' in the studio]
Eamonn O'Muiri: Were you frightened when you went on stage with Clannad first or were you practised at listening and playing in public at that point?
Enya: I wasn't, I wasn't! It was my first time on stage, in Germany, the first time, and we were up there with hundreds of people, and it was my first time on stage. It was very "scary" for me.
Eamonn O'Muiri: You were 18 years old at the time.
Eamonn O'Muiri: You stayed with Clannad for 2 years?
Enya: I did.
Eamonn O'Muiri: Did you enjoy those 2 years?
Enya: I had a very good time, and I had a good turn. We were going from country to country and then after a while they started to want to put "rock" in the music, they wanted to bring in drums and guitars, and I didn't like that at all. I had a great desire for it to be classical, and then I decided it was time for me to leave.
Eamonn O'Muiri: The break came in 1982
Eamonn O'Muiri: Was it a friendly break or was there a sort of argument?
Enya: It was both ways. Because they were family, could one say "I'm leaving now, that's it." Because we were living at home it was... at first.. we weren't friendly with each other but now that is all behind.
[Video of Orinoco Flow]
Eamonn O'Muiri: You went on your own at that point, and the first thing you did was The Frog Prince.
Eamonn O'Muiri: The soundtrack for David Puttnam.
Enya: For the film.
Eamonn O'Muiri: But it didn't give you the range that you wanted, in the sense that you had to write the music specifically for the film.
Enya: Yes, I composed the music, and then we orchestrated all the music, and I wasn't very satisfied with that. And it wasn't until we started working with the BBC on The Celts that we were able to do the proper arrangements that we wanted to do on the music.
Eamonn O'Muiri: And after that you made your first album, Enya. Did that give you satisfaction?
Enya: Definitely, yes.
Eamonn O'Muiri: How?
Enya: Are you talking about Enya/The Celts or Watermark?
Eamonn O'Muiri: Well I mean both, in that, at that point you were putting your own music forward. Up until then you were cornered in and tied down, but now you had the chance to put your own music forward.
Enya: It was... it was very nice to be able to hear people say to you that they believed in your music, and that they were happy with the music you were composing, with the arrangements of the music. We were very happywith that.
[Video of 'I Want Tomorrow']
Eamonn O'Muiri: From where comes the inspiration to produce your compositions?
Enya: It is said that you should go out walking to find inspirations. I don't believe in that at all. Work, in the studio, every day. I was inside for months and months working and that's the way music happens. There were a few times when you had a sound, or Nicky liked the sound, and he would say "compose a piece of music with that sound" and we would do that. But most of the time it's in the studio working, that's where we got our inspiration.
Eamonn O'Muiri: How do you set about working in the studio? Do you start to play a few notes and then begin to compose based on those notes, something specific comes into your head?
Enya: Well it's like... If I am going to compose on the piano or if I am going to work on the synthesizer, I am sitting and playing, and then you know when you play on the first note of the piece you will compose. It is hard to explain, but it's by striking and playing, in the end it happens, it could happen in 10 minutes or 10 months. One could at any time compose it.
[Enya sings Evening Falls outdoors. A scene of Leo Brennan playing accordian in Leo's Tavern while a group of people, including Enya and her mother Babba watch.]
Eamonn O'Muiri: [Voiceover] Enya back with her family, her father Leo on the accordian. He was a professional musician for years, he now plays when he feels the urge, in his childhood home in Gaoth Dobhair. Enya in the company of her mother Babba. The most popular Irish musician in these Islands and in Europe is back in Mí Na Leice.
Note: Originally transcribed by Louise Ní Fharrachair and posted to the Enya Mailing List on 10 April 1996. This transcript is a translation of an interview given by Enya in Irish on the RTE arts programme Isis following the release of Watermark