Things have been quiet on the Enya front since ‘Orinoco Flow’ swept to number one last October. Now she’s back with ‘Storms In Africa’ and still hasn’t discovered what pop music is yet. Steve Masters joins her on safari.

Life really has passed Enya by. Ask her what the last record she bought was and she’ll tell you quite honestly that she’s never bought a record in her life.

“I only realised that when someone asked what I listen to,” she says, her pronunciation very careful and calculated – English is a foreign language to this Gaelic-speaking Irishwoman.

“It was quiet a shock because I thought there must be something I bought, but obviously there’s been nothing that’s interested me enough to want to buy it.”

Ask Enya how many Stock Aitkin Waterman hits she can remember and she says, “Should I know any?”

Her manager, Nicky Ryan, who accompanies her throughout every interview, tells her she should at least know one in particular.

“Oh yes,” Enya remembers, “I know Kylie, because she was number two when I was number one. The rest? Er… Bananarama, Sinitta, Rick Astley… and that’s it.”

The Family Band

It’s now nine months since the shy Irishwoman with the porcelain complexion came, seemingly from nowhere, to record one of the most memorable number ones of the last year with the haunting ‘Orinoco Flow’. In that time she’s travelled the world promoting herself and her music, with manager Nicky never far away.

Nicky also used to manage family band Clannad but, he says, he got irritated with their attitude, and particularly the way they treated little sister Enya. “They were only paying her pocket money and wouldn’t recognise her formally as a member of the group,” he says. “I told them to pay her a fair wage and they said she had to do her time to earn it like they had.” When Enya left the band, he went to.

Enya doesn’t like to talk about them. She reckons the only reason people bring it up all the time is because she’s their sister. “If I’d left any old band,” she says, “there wouldn’t be so much fuss.”

The Single

‘Storms In Africa’, the third track from Enya’s debut album, Watermark, was re-recorded for seven inch format. Enya can, in fact, be seen as a trio (Nicky and wife Roma, who write the lyrics, are an integral part of the ‘band’).

‘Storms In Africa’ was re-recorded in English for the single, and was originally set for release in February, but they didn’t meet the deadline. Even though WEA gave them an extension, they were still late. One of the reasons for that was constant promotion work around the world. Watermark has gone gold in the States and platinum in Canada. The current UK figure is double platinum.

So here we are in June 1989, and Enya has to reintroduce herself to the world. WEA paid L20,000 for a two-and-a-half minute slot on prime time London television, reaching an estimated 10 per cent of London homes. The advert showed sections of the two previous single videos as well as ‘Storms’. Tony McInnes from WEA says, “We thought the advert would not only bring attention to Enya again after a long time, but also find new customers for the album.”

Commercial Break

Enya’s been around for longer than most people realise. Her first project was composing the music for the BBC series The Celts, and the soundtrack has been in great demand ever since.

So far the only commercials in the UK using Enya’s music are for Vauxhall cars and a Scottish Bells sports event, but offers have come in from all over the place looking for musical endorsements.

“We’ve had lots of advertisers asking to use our music but they’re not all things we particularly want to endorse.”

“The Royal Bank of Scotland sent us their advert recently – with the matchstick men inventing shoes – and we loved it. We’d like to work on their next one, but nothing has been discussed or agreed yet.”

Meanwhile, sales of the album continue to escalate. Whatever happens to ‘Storms In Africa’ in the singles chart, Enya will soon be back recording the follow-up to Watermark.

“We’re itching to get back in the studio. We never know how it’s going to turn out until we start work on it. Last time we hid ourselves away for six months, and in all that time we didn’t speak to WEA. When we finished we just took them the result and they were happy. None of us ever dreamed it would be so successful.”

Record Mirror: June 1989
Steve Masters