I have been speaking with EnaFay…
about her awesome new E.P., Arwen. It is a stunning and beautiful collection of songs that make you reflect, immerse and imagine. The German-born artist talks about her influences and upbringing; how she will spend Christmas; how important dance is to her sense of liberation and musical dynamic – and how Celtic symbolism inspired her E.P. title.
EnaFay talks about her upcoming E.P. launch in London and what she has planned for the future; the albums that mean the most to her; why she moved from Germany to Ireland; whether London is a good place to record music; a few new acts we should check out - she tells me what she learnt about herself whilst recording Arwen.
Hi, EnaFay. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. I’m really good, thanks - and it’s been a busy and great week since I released my debut E.P. (only last week)!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Of course! So. I’m the artist EnaFay; singer-songwriter living in London - at the moment - born in Germany; partially raised in Ireland…so, in the same way I have several homes; my music does, too.
I play soul music but it’s a bit experimental - there’s a lot of different influences in there.
Arwen is your debut E.P. What does it feel like having it out to the world? What are the main themes you explore throughout?
It feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.
Don’t know if that surprises you but even though I loved working on it; it just feels so good to have completed it and to not be able to go back and change another thing. It has been a long process for me to get it out there. I am quite the perfectionist which, sometimes, can make it hard to…you know…let go. So, to me; one of the biggest achievements about it is to have - in fact - let it go!
This is a theme (also) on the E.P. - “Let go, make me proud/we are no longer restricted” in the last track of the album. Restricting yourself by being too hard on yourself; restricting the other by not giving them the space they desire; finding the balance between the two poles - you and me, black-and-white; fire and water…‘Arwen’ is symbolic and it means ‘total unification of polarities’.
The title has a Celtic connection. Growing up in Ireland; is that exposure and experience of the country the reason you chose ‘Arwen’ as the title?
So, yes; ‘Arwen’ is, indeed, a Celtic symbol!
The idea behind the E.P. is finding balance in a relationship as well as yourself - so it sums it up nicely. I only came across this symbol, however, when I was already living in London - so many years after moving away from Ireland. But, I was doing research specifically on Celtic symbols in connection to myself as an artist; so, the time living there definitely had an impact on me - since I deliberately chose to make it a part of what I was working on.
Did you learn anything about yourself whilst recording the E.P.? How much of an impact did the music make on you?
Big question. I could probably write a book on it! Haha…
As I mentioned; it was quite a long process and in that time I learnt so much. (Also, about myself). The whole E.P. felt like a not so personal matter at the beginning (quite a few songs on it I wrote about other people, not myself) and now, after three years, it feels like I have lived them all!
The truth is (this may sound like a cheesy ending); I would say I have come a lot closer to feeling balanced than I have ever been before. But this is, of course, in no way an end. One of my favourite sayings is: “Life is like riding a bicycle - to keep your balance, you must keep moving”!
I believe you are launching the E.P. in Walthamstow next month. What can you reveal about the gig?
It will be a night not to miss…this is where it all comes together…music, dance; a bit of drama and a bit of poetry. A lot of the amazing people I have been working with on this E.P. will be there, which makes me feel ever so grateful - as it shows how relationships can last! To add to that; talents I met more recently will be shaping the evening with me so, overall; I am hoping it’ll be the spring for more collaboration.
Also; it will be the day that I release the physical C.D.s, too!
Looking at videos you have filmed; it seems dance plays a big part in your life! How important is it with regards freedom, expression and adding physicality to the music?
I chose to have two dancers take on the main ‘characters’ in my music videos - as it is a physical expression of the music and the story being told. Dance, to me, leaves a lot of freedom in the way you can interpret. In this case; I wanted it to support, but not distract too much from the songs. Adding dance, to me, adds another layer - which leaves more freedom for the audience than, for example, if the singer is singing the song into the camera.
London is where you are based now. You have moved from Germany to Ireland; now to England! What was the reason for settling in London? How important is the city to you?
I came to London to study Contemporary Music Performance and, then, I stayed as it seemed like the only thing that would make sense for me to do. I had just started working with people that I wanted to continue working with. I think the overall excitement in London and drive is what makes me feel like it is the place to be for me: work hard, play hard as they say (smiles).
Which artists did you grow up listening to? Which musicians have inspired your own music?
I grew up listening to Britney Spears, J-Lo; Alicia Keys and Destiny’s Child. I pretended to be all of them (especially Beyoncé) - it was so much fun! I also went through phases listening to Eminem and Rammstein. When I was around sixteen, I think; I identified most with Alicia Keys - I was playing the piano and singing some of her songs. I got more into writing songs with the piano. I was, however, mainly classically trained on piano. Later, I switched from mainly female artists to male - it was Frank Ocean and The Weeknd for me.
Massive Attack came into the picture as well as Björk and Kate Bush - who I had never heard of before...but I was told I had a similar vibe to.
IN THIS PHOTO: SYML/PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez
If you had the chance to choose the three albums that mean the most to you – which would they be?
Alicia Keys - Songs in A Minor
Drake - Nothing Was the Same
Destiny’s Child - Survivor
Is there any advice you would give to artists coming through right now?
Try and not put your life into social media’s hands. With that, I mean live a life outside of it…we are, at the moment, so pushed to put our efforts into growing a following online that it is easy to lose track what it is that actually drives us (not two more Facebook ‘likes’ or a ‘retweet’). It’s the connection happening in the rehearsal-room; in the studio or on stage.
At least that is what it is for me….
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Right now, just at my event in January. I will probably have some more gigs coming up in February/March again, though.
Are you looking ahead at new material in 2018? Do you have ideas for a future project?
Once the E.P. Release Gig is over; I will do a lot of songwriting. I have had a lot of ideas in the past months that I never managed to turn into something more complete (due to time restrictions). So, this is what I want to focus on for some months in the New Year. What these songs will lead to exactly - I don’t know yet.
But, I have several ideas….
Christmas is almost here. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
Yes; only a few days to go!
Until then; I’ll be sorting out all the presents that I still need to get…I have quite a big family. Over Christmas, I’ll be in Northern Ireland in the countryside with some of my family - but I’ll be quite busy with preparing my E.P. Release Show on 13th January!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Yay (smiles). Fear of the Water by SYML, please.
The official music video is amazing, too!