- 25 Jan 16
When Enya released Watermark in 1988, it WAS the beginning of one of the most remarkable chapters in the story of Irish music. With Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan ever-present as collaborators, 80 million album sales and dozens of awards followed. Now, after a seven year hiatus, she is back with a new record, Dark Sky Island, and a determination to take the collective’s music to the world in a different way.
Nicky Ryan was wracking his brains. He had been at the helm of the Clannad ship for a few years, as live sound engineer, producer and manager. They had been productive ones too.
Formed in 1970, the band had released their debut album in 1973. But it was on Dúlamán, released in 1976, with Ryan in the producer’s role for the first time, that they began to refine what would become their trademark sound. That widely praised record was followed in 1978 by a live album, Clannad In Concert, recorded on the road in Switzerland. In the interim, they had gone fully professional.
But Nicky was still searching for the magic ingredient that might push the band on, to the next level. He couldn’t get the idea out of his head that the rich vocal sounds and the wash of harmonies that he had been coaxing out of the collective would work as a film soundtrack. But in what movie?
With that thought buzzing in his head, he and his partner Roma Ryan, who booked Clannad’s tours, started to prise open the world of film and television production. It would only take one commission to kick-start a career in film. And so, even while they were learning, they began the process of getting the band’s music into the hands of the decision-makers.
In terms of a strategy for going forward, well, that was part of it. But Nicky felt, with increasing conviction, that something new was also needed to freshen things up musically.
“I felt really proud of what we were doing with Clannad,” Nicky reflects now. “Especially the fact that it was all through the Irish language. We were taking not just Irish traditional music but also the Gaelic language out into the world and playing to big audiences both in Ireland and across Europe. But I was very ambitious for the band, and I felt that if we did the right things, we could break through in a really big way.”
It took time to find the final piece of the jigsaw. But eventually, Nicky had what he thought was a brainwave. He had seen Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, the younger sister of Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan singing and playing. Where better to look for a potential new member of a family group than among their siblings?
Classically trained, Eithne was a fine pianist. She also had an ethereal voice with a range that took her into a soprano space, above her sister, Moya. The way Nicky heard it in his head, it would add a whole new dimension to the sound of their harmonies.
At Nicky’s prompting, she played keyboards and sang backing vocals on the Crann Úll album, released in 1980. It was the way forward. He was sure of it. He approached Eithne about joining the band and she expressed an interest. And so she put it to the band. No one was jumping up and down with excitement, but Nicky prevailed. The band had a new member.
I remember the press releases and the news stories. Eithne Ní Bhraonáin had been added to the Clannad line-up. In the photograph that was supplied to newspapers and magazines, she was seated at a keyboard, looking like the proverbial angel.
1980. There was a National Stadium gig on the way and she came through that with flying colours. The dark-haired creature with the pale complexion seemed to be settling in. That was encouraging.
The band returned to the studio quickly to record a new album, Fuaim (meaning sound). Eithne played keyboards, added harmonies and took the lead vocal on two tracks, ‘An tÚll’ and ‘Buaireadh an Phósta’. Using synthesizer for the first time, the Clannad sound was fuller. More atmospheric. And more cinematic. Nicky and Roma targeted another batch of film and television producers.
The younger sister was now an ethereal presence in the Clannad machine, as it rolled across Ireland, Great Britain and the continent. Then, within months of the release of Fuaim, came the split. Understandably no one wants to revisit now what became a battleground. It is all a long time ago. But Nicky Ryan was determined that Eithne would
be treated as a full and equal member of the band. Roma agreed. The rest of the band didn’t. It was the end of the line.
Nicky and Roma retreated to Artane, where they lived, with the younger of the Brennan siblings as their new collaborator. Built a studio in the back garden. Started all over again.
1982. The movie connections which they had been cultivating started to bear fruit after the split. ‘Harry’s Game’ brought success for the Donegal group on a scale that was written in lights. More soundtracks followed, along with adulation and respect.
Having been there, seen that and left, there may have been moments of anguish and doubt in Artane, as Clannad took off. But Nick, Roma and Eithne were forging a different sound. Looking to The Beatles and Phil Spector’s infamous Wall of Sound, it was bigger and more dramatic than anything that had yet come out of Ireland.
There was the small matter of the name to think about too.
Eithne. It was a hard one to get your tongue around. Nicky figured that people outside Ireland wouldn’t have a clue how to pronounce it. “I came up with the idea of a phonetic spelling,”
he smiles. “E-N-Y-A. How much easier is that to understand and to pronounce? En-ya. It was something that I felt we had to do, but it made sense in every way.
“It’s impossible,” he adds, “to know what would have happened if we had stuck with Eithne. But what we can say, definitively, is that Enya worked. There was never any doubt about that.”
That decided, Roma Ryan beavered away quietly. Among others, she sent demos to the man behind the success of Midnight Express, Chariots of Fire and Local Hero, David Puttnam. Her perseverance paid off. The great British film producer saw Enya’s potential and commissioned her to write the score for the Brian Gilbert film of which he was Executive Producer, The Frog Prince, as well as two songs for the soundtrack album. They were on their way.
They worked hard. The next big win was a commission to write the music for The Celts, a 1987 BBC series that set out to discover the origins of that strange tribe, which had spread from the east and ultimately came to occupy the often inhospitable lump of rock on the edge of Europe that we know as Ireland. Roma co-wrote six of the songs. The album of the music from the series, released on the BBC label, was simply entitled Enya, officially making it her first solo album.
Was it mere chance that Rob Dickins of WEA heard the record and fell in love with it? Perhaps. But he did. He met Nicky and Roma at an IRMA Awards ceremony in Dublin and they hit it off. Dickins decided that he wanted to sign the ethereal singer to a record deal. That meant signing Enya, the ‘band’: like the three musketeers, Eithne, Nicky and Roma were in this together.
Months of highly intensive work took place in the small studio at the back of the house in Artane. They started as they intended to go on, before relocating to Orinoco Studios in London to finish the job. And at the end of it all, they breathed a deep sigh of relief. They knew the album was good. They felt it in their bones.
They agonised over the name and finally agreed on one that hinted at the idea of permanence amid a sea of change. Watermark. The choice of the lead single was never in doubt. ‘Orinoco Flow’ was dispatched to radio.
1988. I remember driving to Artane on a wet and windy night to meet Enya, Nicky and Roma. I spent the evening delving into the background, finding the arc of a remarkable storyline. It felt right. Something was about to happen. Listening to the music in the car on the drive out, I had sensed it. Talking to them, that conviction grew even stronger. They had known what they were doing
There is a tide in the affairs of men – and women too it must now be said – which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. “Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries,” Shakespeare had written, in Act 4 Scene 3 of Julius Caesar. There would be no sins of omission here. Warners put their strongest firepower behind the release. On such a full sea were they now afloat. They took the current when it served, and the tide swept them upwards.
It swept them up, up and away. They were flying. ‘Orinoco Flow’ went to No.1 all over the world. If ‘Harry’s Game’ had been a big hit, this crowning jewel was many times bigger. The album too.
It was like a fairytale, but of course it wasn’t that. These were three lovely, decent, talented, yet grounded people. When they let their collective imaginations go, for sure, the goblins might come out to play on occasion. But there was a rich seam of naturalism too in the music and the lyrics they wrote, and in the way the music was framed by Nicky’s production, which conjured the whisper of a small stream here and the crashing of tidal waves there with equally mesmerising effect.
Across the planet, people fell in love with it. Watermark went on to sell 11 million albums worldwide. By any standards, it was an astonishing achievement.
2015. Very few artists have sold 80 million albums and remained so apparently elusive. How often has Enya been interviewed? What do her fans really know about her? What does anyone? At times, she has seemed like that same apparition that barely materialised at all, not just after we first heard her name in the late 1970s, but especially after that landmark album began to skyrocket up the charts.
In a strange way, through the intervening five albums, she had become an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Another girl perhaps, except from another planet. Or that was how it sometimes seemed.
She walks into the room. Holds your gaze. Shakes your hand. Smiles a million dollar smile. Shares a hug. And talks like the gorgeous teacher that you wished you had when you were at school, in a lovely, warm, Donegal burr.
The years fall away. She talks about Rory Gallagher. Enquires about Taste. And remembers phrases from that long ago interview that was steeped in images of wind and rain and hinted at the permanence of Watermark. And then we begin the formal part, the recorder placed carefully on the table between us.
Her voice rings out, soft and clear, the words enunciated with the careful confidence of someone who is happy in herself, in her work – and in her world…
Niall Stokes: Is there a great feeling of relief now that the album is ready to hit the shops?
Enya: There is. It might seem like a long time since the last album, but it has only been seven years.
So what was happening in your life?
I took a break. It was my first long break, which was way overdue. I felt it was necessary for me and for the music. After I finished, And Winter Came... which was the winter album I always wanted to do, I didn’t know what was next. And that’s when I thought: I’m actually going to take a break. Three years of a break. And it sounds like a long break, but it was actually quite short. I mean a year can fly by really quickly. You think: I must do that – and at the end of the year have you done it? No.
Was it a case of thinking: I really want to go parachute jumping or to take up horse riding?
Travelling! I’ve always loved travelling and the fact that I do travel, you know, with promotion – I enjoy that. But this time it was my own travelling. I always wanted to go back to Australia for longer, and then I bought a house in the south of France, as you do. I got into huge renovations and was just taking time between Ireland and France. And then, three years later, I wanted to get back to the studio. I had that yearning, which was lovely.
I’m sure Donegal is always calling too…
Well, my mom and dad, you know, you want to see them as often as you can. Sometimes it’s not possible. But they would come to Dublin or we would go abroad. So it was nice to have time with the family.
Finally, it was back to business…
You know how we work. It takes three years to make an Enya album, and that’s been the same from Watermark to Shepherd Moons to The Memory of Trees. That’s something that we asked for. We had worked on the soundtrack to The Celts with the BBC, and then the record company approached us for a solo album. I was an unknown artist at the time, and we were establishing a way of working, and so we felt that it was important to the music – so we said to Rob Dickins of Warners: it will take three years between each album. And he said that’s fine.
Did you find it hard to get back into it?
No, I was really excited. Because there was such a gap, there was an element of it being like our first album again! So what am I bringing into the studio? What am I going to write about? What is inspiring me? It was a real sort of feeling of yearning to get back to the music. I missed it. I really missed it (laughs).
Were you bringing anything different?
I had to wait and see. For three years, I had to wait and see! It’s only when you finish the eleven songs – the eleven stories and what are they saying – that you know. You understand how I work with Nicky Ryan. I write a song. We work on it for a while and then we leave it. You mightn’t go back to that song for three months or six months. You’re writing other songs. So when you go back, that’s where you try and see what the emotional feeling was, what was in the melody, are you still enhancing that or have you lost a sense of what you’re trying to say. That can happen, where the embellishment, the arrangement, everything is taking over. Or on the other hand, you feel, no this really needs more work. So with each song it’s different. So that’s the element of not knowing properly until towards the end.
Roma’s lyrics are based on a series of poems…
Yeah, in particular there’s the title track, ‘Dark Sky Island’. She continued writing poetry and she was writing about islands – and in particular she was writing about Sark Island, which is off the Channel Islands. It was the first island to be designated a ‘dark sky area’. She started to explain that the only way to get there is by boat – you can’t fly there – and they don’t have cars. They took the designation as a dark sky area very seriously, and they decided to lessen light pollution as much as they could. So she was reading me the poetry – and ‘Dark Sky Island’ was the first melody I wrote, the inspiration being the poem about Sark Island. It is a fascinating thought: we all like to view the sky but she said that it’s quite unrecognisable because of the vastness of the amount of stars that you can see when it is dark enough. That conjures up wonderful imagery.
Nature is important generally in your work…
We deal a lot with nature and the universe and that was certainly one of the inspirations behind Dark Sky Island: this ongoing cycle that happens. That’s what ‘The Humming’ is about. It’s going on all around us: the water evaporates, becomes clouds, the trees fall, fungi takes over, winds come and go. But when I wrote that song there was a part that I hummed. It just felt right: this had to be the humming part! And then, it turns out Roma has a story that the earliest sound of the universe was a humming sound, which was inaudible to us until scientists took the information and they compressed it and that was what came out: a humming sound. That’s the way we work: everything starts to link up. It’s not a case of overnight you have the lyric and that’s the song. It’s a case of taking your time and asking: what do we need for this? This humming part, what’s the theme of it? The humming, that’s a great title! ‘The Humming’: it’s the sound of the early universe.
Where do you stand on the warnings about climate change and the feeling that we may be on the path to global destruction?
Well, that’s something that’s ongoing. But what my message is: don’t lose sight of what’s there. Sometimes we forget about waking up and thinking ‘What is the sky like today?’ I say: ‘Go for a walk, look at a tree, be alive to everything’. I just feel that to focus too much on climate change tends to panic people. The situation is being dealt with as much as it can be. It’s a very political situation. But I feel that it’s really important to just live your life right now as well. You never know what tomorrow will bring. There are terrible moments that have happened which are worse than anything they’re educating us on. I’m thinking of what’s happening in Syria or 9/11 or things like that. So it’s best not to think too much of tomorrow.
Some people look fifty years on and think: what sort of world are we bequeathing to our children?
But let them enjoy what’s happening in the here and now as well. There is fear, but there’s always been. You go back through history and there’s an element of a traumatic moment that could change everything very rapidly. So what I’m saying is: that is ongoing and it is important to look into it – but I’m also giving the message, educate them to, you know, go for a walk. Look around you. Take a moment. That’s really important as well.
Do you enjoy the process of recording?
I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t enjoy it. Especially having had taken a proper break, I realised that being creative, being passionate about the music, writing a new song – all of these things are so important to me. Just because you’ve had success doesn’t make it easy to write the song you want. I have been classically trained so I go into the studio with a disciplined approach. But you still need to see what’s going to evolve. You have to work at it. This word keeps cropping up for me: time. It is lovely just to have the time in the studio, where there is no clock against me. You are sometimes caught up in the newness of an idea: you write a melody and you think ‘Wow! This is great, it’s very complex’. You come in the next day and you don’t feel any sort of passion for it. It’s like my own little journey, trying to find something that you feel strongly about, so that you know: this is the one.
You’ve achieved remarkable things without ever touring in the way that most musicians do. Are you tempted by the prospect of doing live work?
I would love it. Just to go back to the launch of Watermark, in 1988, the record company said, ‘We see you on stage with a piano, you know, maybe two or three synthesiser players and that’s it’. We were thinking more in terms of having a string section because a lot of the parts that I play are like real-time strings, which are then layered. The same with my voice, so I thought we had to have a small choir. So we didn’t see eye to eye with the record company. Before we could work all of that out, what happened was the success of ‘Orinoco Flow’, which, as you pointed out yourself, was a song that would cross over – and which led to the success of Watermark. So I had surpassed the sales the record company had hoped for from a debut album and they were concerned that it would be three years before the next one. So once I finished promotion, they wanted me to go in and start on the next album – and that’s really what we’ve done ever since.
But the world has changed hugely and live performances are far more important now…
Live music is very different now. In 2015, you can have the choir; you can have the orchestra. There are wonderful productions now. On the three year break, we weren’t under pressure to work on the next album and so we talked about what we would do live, how many people we’d need on stage, and so on. So Nicky has this idea of recording all the hits live, with a choir and an orchestra. He’s a big Beatles fan, so he’d love to do it in Abbey Road, but there are lots of options. It’s going to be a very different rendering of the music. But it will give us a real sense of how we could do things in live performance.
Like Kate Bush, you could also do twenty dates in the one venue, so you’re not carting a huge production all over the world.
We talked about using The Metropolitan in New York as a venue to just to do even one concert: that can be screened all over the world now. But to hear it first is the most important thing: to hear ‘Orinoco Flow’ or ‘Caribbean Blue’ as they would sound live. We’ve done some really great TV shows for Japan and you have the string sections – ten cellos and twenty violins – playing the music and you hear all the parts and the choir and you get an inkling what it might sound like. So it’s time to experiment with getting the sound on stage.
On record, with Nicky’s production, there is a real Phil Spector ‘wall of sound’ thing going on.
The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, The Beatles, those are his main musical inspirations in the studio. When I play a melody, I’ll sort of hum the song and I hear a totally different arrangement to what Nicky hears. But what we like to do is to try everything. Now there are sparks that will happen: my idea is better than your idea and all of that! But what’s really good is to let the other person try things. What evolves makes it very exciting. You can be a critic to your own music. You can listen to it and go ‘Oh well I knew that wasn’t going to work’, or else there’s the shock, ‘Oh it does work!’ We’ve always given each other the freedom to bring in any idea.
What were the biggest disagreements about?
There’s quite a few that we would have about, say, mixing a track, or where a riff would sit. It’s really personal, you know. You must remember that when we spend so much time on an album, we hear absolutely everything. So if a part disappears you can be anxious: why has my idea disappeared? Did you take that fader down by any chance? So that’s where the sparks fly!
The production values are crucial. What did you feel when you first heard that The Fugees had sampled ‘Boadicea’ for ‘Ready Or Not’?
First, it would be nice to have been asked. But it is a compliment. When you write music, you have no idea what people from other genres will think about it. We had an encounter with Puff Daddy a few years back, where he also did ‘Boadicea’ with another singer. Rihanna also had a track.
Did you ever imagine that your music would be in the middle of a huge hip-hop hit? It’s one of the biggest selling singles of all time.
That was from The Celts, which was a wonderful project. But you thought you were confined to a TV programme for BBC so there was no expectation that it would crossover in that way.
Barack Obama named ‘Ready Or Not’ as his favourite song of all time.
I didn’t know that! Thank you for that information.
When you were starting out, did you have any sense that you might sell 80 million records?
No, no, no. Again the focus is always on what am I writing. The studio is all about focussing on the music. Being successful doesn’t make it any easier putting the music together or writing a song. The longevity of the career – that’s incredible. But I focus on the music side of it. When people talk about sales, I think: ‘Oh that’s wonderful’. But it’s a very short-lived moment.
The use of Loxian…
We have a whole movie coming out with Loxian (laughs). Sorry I interrupted you, but it’s another example of the freedom we have in the studio. On Watermark I was singing in Gaelic and Latin. And on Lord of the Rings I sang in Elvish. When we worked in Elvish, I felt very comfortable singing in Tolkien’s fictional language. Then, when we were working on Amarantine, there was a track called ‘The River Sings’ – and everything was working on the song but the language didn’t suit it. We tried so many different languages and we listened back and said, ‘It’s not working, it’s not working’. That’s when Roma said ‘I think I’ll write a fictional language’.
A lot of people would say: ‘Are you off your rocker’?
(Laughs) We went: ‘Great’! You just don’t go ‘Excuse me?’ That’s not the way we work together! When you have an idea you just follow it through. She worked on the sounds I was making and created the Loxian language, using very soft sounds. We did three songs on Amarantine. On And Winter Came... there was no song that suited it: I never impose an idea on a song. It is never ‘I must do this’. It has to evolve very naturally within the music. So there was no Loxian. On this album there’s two tracks.
Is there a back-story to Loxian?
It goes back to The Celts. The director of the TV series, David Richardson, was really wonderful. He said ‘You’re a Celt, so what would Celtic music be like in the future?’ And I wrote ‘Aldebaran’ in response. He actually said at the time: ‘I don’t think the Celts will exist in the future, they’re actually going to leave earth and they’re heading to Aldebaran’. So that was the last we saw of The Celts!
It was a leap of the imagination, but Roma said ‘These have now become the Loxian people’. So the song ‘The Forge of the Angels’ is the Loxian people passing by Aldebaran. At the Forge of the Angels there are big ships – they are called the Angels –and they’re forging past Aldebaran. And then on the other song, ‘The Loxian Gates’, that is their planet, surrounded by the Loxian Gates. But Roma said ‘We don’t know the name of the planet because it’s in the future’. So it’s like: ‘Wow’. There’s a story in it.
Do you think of that as a fairy tale?
No, it’s very futuristic, and connects with what’s happening. A lot of people are hoping to get to space. So when I’m performing Loxian, you know the language, it does conjure up the image. That’s what I’m singing about. I ask a lot of people: ‘Does it not bother you that you don’t understand the language that I’m singing’. But they say that they can sense in the song what I’m singing about. That’s the most important thing.
Mouth music would not be a million miles away from it: the sounds are not about meaning, but about something sensual and atmospheric.
That’s it. There was a documentary done on me. I don’t know if I agreed with it or not, but it highlighted the element of melancholy that is within Irish music – and that it’s in my music. It has, I think, to do with the minor key because a lot of Irish traditional music is in a minor key. It’s incredible. There’s a few songs of mine that are in minor keys or that use a minor, major, minor, major sequence. So it’s something that I use a lot in my music. If it’s not a minor key I keep going from major to minor a lot and I think that’s the influence of traditional Irish music coming through.
You were classically trained. But growing up you listened to traditional music and to pop music as well. Was one element more important than the other?
They’re all there. They all lend themselves to feeling comfortable in any genre of music. It’s a natural sort of progression to try to get this emotional feeling into notes, into a song and into lyrics. It’s kind of like a journal.
When you were growing up, you got into music and you imagined yourself as a musician. But did you also imagine yourself having a different life, where you’d have kids and family?
For me, it was always inclined to be the journey. Whatever the journey I’ve done – that’s where the journey took me. When I was three and a half years of age, that’s the first time I was on stage. It was in a pantomime. All the fairy tale characters came out – the Snow Queen, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and Little Red Riding Hood – and I spoke to the audience and I sang a song and you know, I didn’t feel this was a strange thing to do.
Was there any other vital formative influence?
At eleven years of age, I went to boarding school and that made me very independent. Because, being in a big family, of four brothers and four sisters, it was very difficult to hear my voice. And all of a sudden I’m at boarding school. I don’t have to ask anybody. I answer for myself. I remember the first assembly we were at. The music teacher came in and she said ‘Who here would like to be in the choir’ and of course, I was like, ‘Yeah’. And then ‘Who would like to study piano’ – and I was already up to grade two at that stage and I was like ‘Yes’. And then she said ‘Now, who’d like to do music as a subject’? I’d never known that you could do music as a subject and my feeling was: they’ll think I’m really greedy here, but it was just like Christmas and my birthday had come together.
Was the feeling of independence important?
I was the one that sat in learning, when everybody was playing outside. So what boarding school did for me was that every step I took I really sort of thought about it and I thought about me as a person. Even now, I don’t think in haste: ‘Oh that sounds great let’s go for it’. I always think, ‘Are you happy with this now, this is a big change’. And everything I’ve done I’ve been really happy with.
You joined your brothers and sister in Clannad – and then split in controversial circumstances…
It was actually Nicky who asked me to join Clannad. I was about to go to university to study music and I got the call and I was quite surprised when I said: ‘Yes’. Because, I wasn’t the next in line. I’ve older brothers and sisters who weren’t in the group. And I found it sort of strange. I talked about that – and then I decided: ‘I’m going to try this’. But, for me, it was a sort of trial period. I wanted to write music and I enjoyed the experience on stage – but I found, talking to Nicky, that he had a lot of musical ideas, like the wall of sound and he wanted to try one voice and to use it as an instrument. And I thought this was fascinating because I knew harmony; I knew melody; I wanted to write. But it wasn’t going to happen straight away. The first things I wrote were instrumentals. It was Roma who said: ‘This feels very visual’. She said it really tells a story – and that’s why the lyrics work with Roma doing the poetry side of a lyric. Because she was able to see the visual side of the melody I had written. And then we thought, ‘Well let’s go to film, let’s go to TV’ – and that’s where we started.
But before you became successful there were tough times, when it was hard to put food on the table…
Absolutely. But I gave piano lessons, which I enjoyed for a short time. But when you do something that you really believe in and really love there is a really big driving force. You don’t feel the cold. You’re not hungry. You’re really driven towards writing an album. I remember thinking: ‘It’ll be amazing when I have twelve pieces written’. I’d have written six pieces and I kept thinking: will I ever finish twelve? You know now the number of songs I’ve written – part of me didn’t believe I could do it. But part of me had the driving force of ‘Why don’t you push yourself and see what happens?’
There have been a lot of huge occasions, and awards and moments of adulation and all that – but has there been anything that stands out as a pinnacle moment so far?
The Oscars! What they did for the songs that year was amazing. Usually during the award ceremony you perform a song and then they present awards, then the next song will be performed – and so on. What they did the year I performed was that we were all on stage at the same time. So there I am, on stage with Sting, Faith Hill, Randy Newman and Paul McCartney. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? (laughs)
Are there musicians, or is there a band, at the moment that you listen to and that you feel: ‘This is really special?’
I’d have to say Adele. Sam Smith is wonderful too, but I think she’s quite unique. She has the most beautiful voice and writes the most wonderful melodies.
A final question: we talked about the great moment at the Academy Awards, but have you any regrets at this stage?
Regrets? None whatsoever. I was asked recently, in passing, would I change anything? And the truth is that I wouldn’t change anything whatsoever. It’s nice to be able to say that. Yeah, that there is nothing really that speaks to me of ‘Oh I wish I had.’
Dark Sky Island is out now on Warner Music