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Current location: Music > Enya interview on KSCA-FM (transcript), part 1

KSCA 101.9 FM's interview with Enya

Transcribed by JYW

[Click the image to buy 'The Memory of Trees' from]Enya was interviewed by former KSCA 101.9 FM Music Director/DJ Merilee Kelly on Thursday, 18 January 1996 (one of the many stops on Enya's promo tour for The Memory of Trees). The interview began at approximately 13:40 PST, and ended at about 14:15 PST. (Unfortunately, in early January 1997, KSCA was sold and ultimately underwent a change in station format. It was a sad occurrence, but I'm sure I speak for all fans of the late KSCA when I thank its former staff for bringing the greater Los Angeles area a great mix of real alternative music. It was fun while it lasted!)

     I've tried to keep the essence of the interview in the transcription . . . but I've replaced many of the "ah"s and "um"s, etc. with dashes or ellipses (sorry for the inconsistency). When you see a parenthetical quote italicized ("Like this"), it means that the other person is speaking at the same time. (FYI, during the "languages" portion of the interview, "Gaeilge" is the actual Irish word -- and "Gàidhlig" is the actual Scottish word -- for "Gaelic".) Also, try to keep in mind that when I heard the two talking, it seemed as though they were smiling the whole time. :-) [You can click on an image to hear audio clips and/or buy the respective album or movie from]

     Four complete songs were played during the interview (in this order):

  • "Orinoco Flow" (from Watermark)
  • "Anywhere Is" (from The Memory of Trees)
  • "Exile" (from Watermark)
  • "On My Way Home" (from The Memory of Trees)


Merilee Kelly: It's twenty minutes 'til 2, and she made it! Enya is here -- welcome!

Enya: And welcome to you . . . thank you!

MK: 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 um, when an album -- when I release an album, I -- I like to -- to go round and talk about the music. But it's only for so many months, and then that's it for me.

MK: Mmm hmm. I know over in the UK, the music press can be brutal. (Enya laughs) They can, you know, say wonderful things about you one week, ("Mmm hmm") and the next week, you're -- 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 -- they end up, ah, making up stories as such. But I don't really concern myself too much about them (laughs).

MK: Well, I know pretty much -- it's unanimous with most of the press and fans . . . you've sold twenty million records ("Mmm hmm") so far (Enya chuckles) . . . you know, maybe next week it'll be twenty-one million. Ah, 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) Sounds a little something like this -- and then we'll talk about Enya's new album . . . FM 101.9.

("Orinoco Flow" plays out, and ends)

MK: FM 101.9 . . . Wanted to let every last note ring out on that one (Enya laughs) from Enya . . . "Orinoco Flow" -- "Sail Away, Sail Away." Ah, 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 dun-da-dun! [She's referring to the accentuation from "sail a-way."] . . .

Enya: . . . Mmmm . . .

MK: . . . Was any kind of conscious influence there?

Enya: Um, I think it's -- 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" ("Mmm hmm") and the Beach Boys, and -- so his intention was to build up a big sound around that melody.

MK: Now, Nicky Ryan has been with you from the start, ("Mmm hmm") from your first album.

Enya: Yeah.

MK: What is this whole collaborative process like -- there's three of you, right?

Enya: Mmm hmm. There's three of us.

MK: How does the song start?

Enya: Well, ah, usually I write the melody. And then, myself and Nicky will, ah, get into the studio and start to arrange -- the, ah, the melody . . . and ah, I perform all the music -- and I use my voice as an instrument, and Roma's involved in writing the lyrics.

MK: Now, Roma is Nicky's wife?

Enya: Mmm hmm.

MK: Now that's a really unusual arrangement . . .

[Cover of an import version of 'The Celts.' Click the image to buy 'The Celts' from]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, ah, arranging with Nicky, and writing the music and performing . . . so, no desire whatsoever to write lyrics! (Chuckling) But Roma was actually writing poetry at the time, and she was involved, ah, 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.

MK: It must be an interesting dynamic -- a married couple and you. It's kind of like, um, I think of teen-age girls when they're friends . . . if there's two of them, it's trouble (Enya laughs) -- but if there's three, there's -- 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 -- it's more myself and Nicky, and Roma --

MK: Oh, really?

Enya: -- intervening, yeah.

MK: Ah ha . . .(Chuckles) Ah, 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 -- ("Mmm hmm") ah, it's a formula that works . . . has there -- ever been any discussion about expanding -- bringing in another person to work with you?

Enya: Um, it's -- 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, ah, 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, um, 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.

MK: And you must be so much in sync that -- with a new producer, you'd have to explain everything . . .

Enya: Yeah -- 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 -- she knows. So it's -- a wonderful combination.

MK: Enya is with us in the studio today at FM 101.9. Ah, you said they'd worked with you from the start of your career ("Mmm hmm") and that you've got this close relationship. Now, before that, you did spend some time in your family's group Clannad.

Enya: Mmm hmm.

MK: That must be -- have been a similar experience . . . a lot of closeness. ("Mmm hmm") Did it ever get too much?

['Fuaim' is the only Clannad album with Enya. Click to get it from]Enya: I -- I enjoyed the two years I was with Clannad. I enjoyed, um, the touring. We toured a lot in, ah, Europe, and this was for someone who had -- 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. Um -- actually, that's where I met Nicky ("Ahh") because he was producing Clannad at that time. And, I felt -- after two years, I felt, um, 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 gonna move on at that stage. And that's where I got talking to Nicky about, ah, 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.

MK: And it's all your voice . . .

Enya: It is, yes, yes.

MK: Let me tell you -- after spending ten days at home for Christmas (Enya laughs) with my family -- for you to be with your family for two years, working . . . (Enya laughs) and related to them, you are a stronger woman than I. (Both laugh) Enya 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" begins and plays out until the end)

MK: FM 101.9, and Enya from the new album The Memory of Trees. Is that an an environmental theme?

Enya: It's actually from ah -- it's actually from Irish mythology. And, ah, Roma suggested the title. Um, 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.

MK: Mmm hmm. The thing I like about your music is that you -- 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, ("Mmm hmm") 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: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah.

MK: Uh, that one obviously you're singing English --

Enya: But yeah, I -- I've sung in . . . Latin, in Spanish -- on this one, "La Soñadora" is Spanish -- and ah, in Gaeilge, of course. "Athair ar Neamh" is in Gaeilge.

MK: Just off the top of my head, I can't think of anybody in popular music right now (Enya laughs) who's recording -- with Latin lyrics.

Enya: Mmm hmm. It's um -- it's to do with the melody. And when I played the melody to Roma, it was obvious that, ah, "Pax Deorum" wasn't gonna be sung in English. It had a classic feel, and she felt that ah, Latin has a classic feel lyric-wise. So, um, she suggested it, and it -- 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, ah, with "La Soñadora." When she suggested Spanish, we tried it, and it worked.

MK: Mmm. Now you were obviously born and raised -- and still living in Ireland?

Enya: Yes, I am.

MK: And, uh, you grew up in a Gaeilge-speaking environment. How typical is that for somebody in 20th century Ireland?

[Photo of Gweedore. From]Enya: It's ah -- there's only a -- few of these communities left, Gaeltacht areas -- that you're brought up speaking Gaeilge. So um, there's not a lot of people in Ireland that actually speak Gaeilge. But um, when I go home, ah, to Donegal -- to Gweedore -- I still speak in Gaeilge to everybody -- they still converse in Gaeilge.

MK: Now, Gaeilge isn't like English in that it's just one language . . . there are different kinds of Gaeilge, is that right?

Enya: Well, there's Scotch Gàidhlig -- which is very similar to Gaeilge -- which is, ah, in Scotland.

MK: Mmm hmm. And -- and in Wales, they have some sort of a -- I know they have a traditional language which . . . I've seen some of the ("Mmm hmm") you know, ten thousand letters, all vowels coming together.

Enya: Yeah . . . the connection for, ah, Gaeilge is more with, ah, the Gàidhlig -- the Scotch Gàidhlig. Welsh is very different, ("Mmm hmm") very different.

MK: Well, I know that your fans are -- are very rabid about you. Um, 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.

Enya: Wow! (Laughs)

MK: Good thing that one's in English, because I don't know about a roomful of people trying to sing in Latin. (Chuckling) Um, your music is so different, and -- and so . . . personal, I guess. Where do the influences come from? I see you just by -- 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: Um, my influences musically are from Irish traditional music, and classical music, and also ah, church music -- hymns. ("Mmm.") Um, I have a great love for hymns and um, I then note that I get very inspired by traveling, by being home in Donegal -- all those wonderful moments I'll take with me to the studio. And they, ah, then become at some stage, a melody. That emotion that I loved at some stage will evolve as a melody.

MK: Mmm.

   Wait, there's more! Go on to Part 2 of the transcript »

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