Dermot Murnaghan: She’s the biggest-selling Irish solo artist of all time; her debut album sold eight million copies, no less, thanks to the chart-topping success of the single Orinoco Flow…

Sian Williams: Mmm!

DM: After five years out of the limelight Enya is releasing a new album

SW: In a moment we’re going to be speaking to Enya; first, though, a world exclusive, the video for her forthcoming single Amarantine was only finished at the beginning of this week, and it’s been rushed to us here at Breakfast. Let’s have a look.

50 secs of Amarantine plays. Back in the studio, Enya is sitting on the couch next to the presenters. As so often, she’s all in black; what looks like a top with a low lace-edged v-neck, a skirt above the knee and thick stockings. A crucifix formed from five gold discs inlaid with black hangs from a black ribbon. Legs crossed, black eyeshadow, small diamond stud earrings, teeth distinctly unbleached.

DM: Well, like a lot of things you saw it first here on Breakfast and we’re glad to say Enya’s here now, very good [hello] morning to you Enya [good morning], really hot off the presses, you finished that on Monday

Enya: Absolutely, absolutely, yeah

SW: What were you thinking, ‘ooh, is it going to make it, is it going to make it’?

E: Um, no, I’d seen the rough cuts, [SW: yeah] so I, I kind of had a, er, you know, an idea of what the end sort of result was going to be like, and it was the first time working with,er, director Tim Roys, and, er, it was quite exciting

DM: Mmm, and how did you find that wonderful location, [long shot featuring video on plasma screen] that beautiful fairy glade? [all laugh] I know the answer to that one, don’t worry

E: [laughs] Yes, yes. It’s… enchanted forest we discovered [laughs]

SW: Elstree Studios [E: yeah DM: They can do anything with cameras nowadays] Let’s be honest with it, Elstree Studios. So tell us, er, tell us about the album and your thoughts behind it. I mean, Amarantine, where does that come from?

E: Yes, um, it is actually an old word that you’ll find in the dictionary but it has quite a few meanings and er, basically the meaning, that the lyricist I ro- I work with, Roma Ryan, she wanted it used in the context of everlasting, and beacause the song is ‘love is love is love’ so is everlasting love

30 sec video clip over speech

DM: Mm, I mean you sing ‘Amarantine’ it does, as you say, it’s in the, it’s in the dictionary, it sounds like it could be a word [E: yes] I would imagine a made-up word, but you’ve sung in many different languages, haven’t you, Gaelic [I have], er, Gaelic, of course, but on this particular album you also sing in, sing in a nun (?) language, a made-up one

E: Yes I do, yes I do, it’s something, because we worked on Lord of the Rings and um, Roma was working on writing the lyrics in Elvish because of Tolkien’s fictional language [DM: of course] so when we went in to work on the album, um, she suggested, because we were working on this one song, and we had great difficulty trying to decide what the line was going to be, so she suggested on creating a fictional language, called Loxian, which was absolutely so exciting

DM: And did the words have meaning, I mean, as you sing them?

E: Oh, absolutely, yeah, absolutely, yeah, because we had the lyrics finished first, and I tried it in English, and in Gaelic, and in Latin, but it’s just a case of where the melody has a very strong emotional sort of feeling, um, and we’re trying to enhance that, and so [hands as if holding a basketball in front of her] the, the lyrics in these languages didn’t actually sort of come together [hands flat together], so when she came in with the first, er, lyric, and, er, it was for Water Shows The Hidden Heart and it was [first line] and I thought, ‘I can sing that’

DM: Wow, it’s fascinating listening to the process, isn’t it?

SW: [over DM] It’s interesting, isn’t it, that you can speak in a, in a language that’s all made up, and yet it still has sort of significance and resonance and all that. How do you decide which of the languages, many languages that you sing in, that you’re going to, that you’re going to go for? [E: It’s the…] What’s the nicest in your mind […the melody…] when you’e singing it?

E: …comes first, and we, kind of, myself and Roma and the producer Nicky Ryan we sit down and we, we listen to the melody, and it can be quite dictative, [fingers as if writing] you know, because when I’m actually, um trying the lyric in say like the English language and… it’s, it just doesn’t come together [squashes basketball] with what you’re trying to say in the song, and I, my first language is Gaelic so I would try Gaelic, and I’ve sung in, er, Welsh and in Spanish, and, and…

SW: Oh, how was Welsh, [DM: ah, who’s perked up there, Sian] I’m learning Welsh…

E: I was, well, I, I actually read it phonetically I have to say, someone had sort of put a tape together for me, but it was, it was fun, I did that for [SW: beautiful language] The Celts

DM: Got a quotation here from the head of Warner Brothers way back when, when they signed you, mighty Warner Brothers signing Enya there, and this is what it says ‘Sometimes the company is there to make money and sometimes it’s there to make music; Enya’s the latter’. Is that the case, I mean the music has always come first, and all this, this fame and all this record sales [E: mm] an added bonus I suppose

E: Absolutely, I mean when I signed with Warner Music [20 secs of OF plays over speech] for, um, Watermark, it’s a very different album, you know the fact I am singing in Latin, and I’m singing in Gaelic, and there’s instrumental, because I come from soundtrack so there’s [SW: yes] instrumental music in it, [yes] so it’s very difficult to know.

SW: This is Orinoco Flow, isn’t it, that was Orinoco Flow. I remember that you did get very famous very suddenly, didn’t you, how did you cope with that, because, are you somebody who enjoys celebrity?

E: For the music I love it, you know I have a great love of music, always has [sic] and to put together this album and kind of lose yourself in the music, you know it’s really interesting to kind of be creative, and not sort of to think of commercial sort of side of the music, you know to, to focus on what you want to sort of say in a song. So the extra bonus is the success, absolutely

DM: Mm, and tell us about this record, you’ve dedicated it to someone who’s very important in your life

E: Yes, yeah, it’s, um, BBC producer Tony McAuley who’s sadly passed away, he was very important to the three of us, a great great friend and he got us involved in the first project really for us was The Celts, and they gave us, we had a wonderful time with [DM: I remember that, documentary series] the BBC where they gave us, yeah, and it was so wonderful because firstly we were asked to write for the one ‘serious’ to write sort of the music to, but when we had sort of put forward a few pieces the director had said – David Richardson – had sort of said ‘no, we want you to, to write the music for the six episodes’ whicha was a great, great compliment to us

DM: Well it’s great to see you here Enya. [thank you, thank you] Best of luck with the new album, thank you very much for coming in

SW: Amarantine, is it out already?

E: It’s being released [SW: being released] next week

SW: Next week, OK thank you very much for coming

E: Thank you very much

Breakfast Time on BBC 1 (UK) – 11 November, 2005
Transcribed by HBB