Enya faces music through feelings
Billboard (USA) 2 January 1992
NEW YORK - For Irish composer/artist Enya, the process of creating the complex melodies of her richly textured songs is guided less by formula than feeling.
"I believe that when you're in the studio there should be no whys, whens or wheres," she says. "You should go with what feels right, especially with this music."
Enya's music - an amalgam of scores of vocal tracks carpeted by a cascade of synthesizer waves - seems to have struck a chord with audiences around the world. Shepherd Moons, Enya's debut on Reprise Records in the United States, follows the lead of 1988's highly successful Geffen album Watermark both in terms of style and international appeal. The new disc bowed at No. 1 on the British albums chart in mid-October and this week rises to No. 37 on The Billboard 200 Top Albums chart.
Shepherd Moons also continues a collaboration between Enya and the husband/wife team of producer Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan. The triumvirate has been working together for nearly 10 years, since Enya left the Irish folk ensemble Clannad to begin composing on her own.
"I find it difficult working with other musicians," she says of her split with Clannad. "I know from experience when they play, they play with their feeling, and it restricts me because I know I want to play in a particular way."
Even with her own compositions, Enya is keenly aware - and wary - of outside influences. She does not listen to any other music while composing, fearful that it could hamper her creativity. "Some people think I am a snob," she says, "but I think it is not being very creative to listen to other music" while working.
However, Shepherd Moons does contain treatments of two songs from earlier eras - 'Marble Halls', written for an 1843 Irish opera, and the Shaker hymn 'How Can I Keep from Singing?'.
"At first I thought, `How could I feel so strongly about somebody else's melody and lyrics,' " recalls Enya. But the two tracks eventually won her over because of their universal appeal. "These songs are (hundreds of) years old and they could have been written today," she explains.
Shepherd Moons was recorded over a two-year period, almost entirely in Ireland, using equipment purchased with profits from Watermark. Enya was also involved in construction of a recording facility outside of her hometown of Dublin that is near completion. "It's important to work (near home) because when I work in the studio I have to discipline myself," she says. "It's nice to be able to finish at the same place you started. You can feel stronger about the music."
Note: Transcribed by Tom McClintock. The article is similar to another by the same reporter that appeared on January 10, in The Commercial Appeal.