Enya might be the queen of elevator music to some, but to millions of others she’s balm for the soul. The Irish chanteuse is one of the world’s highest-selling female artists and her new cd, A Day without Rain, has so far sold 7 million copies. Enya, 40 this month, chilled out with Julietta Jameson.

An Enya record is instantly recognisable. You’ve remained true to your vision. Is it case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? Or is this how you hear your music?

It’s very personal. If you listen to the melodies you’ll hear I’m very open with my emotions. That’s important for me. I’ve always been drawn to a strong melody. It stirs something emotionally. From pop to classical to Irish traditional to a hymn, if it moves me, it’s like, oh wow. So when I started writing music, I felt I had to be part of that … express some emotional feeling from within. I am a very slow writer and you can’t force it. But it is so exciting to write the melody. It is why I do what I do.

Is that why this new album was five years in the making?

Well, I didn’t work five years on it. I worked two. In the time between Memory of the Trees [1995] and A day without Rain, the best-of album, Paint the Sky with Stars, came out and I did two songs for it and it takes me as long to write two songs as a whole album. You don’t just throw a melody together.

And you record each vocal track separately. That layering is not computer generated. And up to 500 vocal tracks for one song, is that right?

I really don’t count, because you can erase some vocal parts. And we do often. You can’t be precious. It’s more to do with what sounds right.

So many people listen to Enya when they are having a bath, or relaxing, or having a dinner party. What does Enya listen to in such circumstances?

Enya listens to Enya. Just before, I was listening to one of my albums and it is different to listen to it now than when I was recording it. When you are recording, you are listening to what you have just sung or played to work out what you’ve got to do next. When I listen to one of my songs, I get its whole life span. I relive the moment in my life when I wrote it, recorded it.

Many singers can’t listen to their own music.

Well, two years putting it together; I am pleased with the end result. But I do listen to other music. Classical and other. I am very aware of what is happening musically. I am drawn to a really good pop song. Dido is very creative. It’s nice to see it happening for her.

So, it must be gratifying that your new album has sold 7 million copies, and you’ve sold 50 million albums all up?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the success. Recently someone who’d been famous but isn’t now said that being famous was much more difficult that being successful. Trying to retain success is much more difficult than being famous. In fact, you can very nearly buy fame. So it’s wonderful to have had the longevity with the success.

The Australian Enya connection is very strong.

It is. I have a sister who is married to a gentleman from Sydney, and my uncle and his family live in Sydney and then another sister is marrying in October another from Sydney and then my brother is married to an Australian.

How come it’s usually the really big successful stars who are the nicest?

I don’t know, but I think it’s about being honest with yourself. I come from a big family, four brothers, four sisters. Wonderful it was, but I never heard my own voice until I went to boarding school, because I was the youngest and my older brothers and sisters were always deciding for me. Then at boarding school it was wonderful to be the one to decide. And because of that I retained the independence. I have kept it through my career. And I never lost sight of who I am.

Julietta Jameson | May 2001 
submitted by Elizabeth, transcribed by enya.sk