An Interview With Sinéad O'Connor
PRINGLE: A great song, "Nothing Compares To You" Sinead O'Connor did, but what's she been up to? Why has it been so long since we heard from her? She has a new disc out now and Dan spoke to her in Toronto.
[taped segment begins]
MATHESON: A lot of folks have been wondering where you've been. We haven't heard much of Sinead O'Connor in recent years. But what's been happening with you?
O'CONNOR: Well, I got pregnant five years ago with my daughter Roisin who is now five. I also have a 13-year-old son called Jake who is now officially bigger than me. So once I got pregnant I more or less sat down for a year gestating. Then I was raising my daughter really. And then I had a record out, "Gospel Oak", about two-and-a-half years ago, maybe three years ago, but the record company closed down ten days after the record came out so I spent about two years looking for a record deal. And that's kind of a bit like getting married. I didn't really want to rush into it --
MATHESON: You have to shop very carefully.
O'CONNOR: Exactly, and really get into bed and make sure everything is working right. [overtalk]
MATHESON: Yeah. Now, there's a lot of changes in your life though.
MATHESON: You've moved around a lot and now you're back in Ireland. Is that a homecoming for you? Is there a sense of resolution with some of the anger of your youth or something?
O'CONNOR: I guess really if I was angry about anything I think it was my mother's death. My mother died in Ireland when I was 17 and that was very hard for me and I think it took me 13 years to be able to be in Dublin without everything reminding meof my mother. I think that's what really the anger was about.
So, yeah, I think growing older and also having expressed a lot of it all -- do you know what I mean? -- through music or through other ways made it a more peaceful place to be.
MATHESON: I would think most people's lasting impression of you from the past decade is the sweet, angelic voice coming out of this very angry person. You seemed angry at church and state and everything in between.
O'CONNOR: Yeah. No, I was. I was very angry. And I think with good reason I was very angry. But also I was very young. I was doing a lot of my growing-up in public. So to a certain extent that meant the focus would be on me that wouldn't be on other people, kind of, you know.
But I had good reason to be angry and so, very understandably, people who didn't know me wouldn't understand that -- do you know what I mean? I would say youth is part of it, but yeah, I was very, very angry I think mostly, as I say, because of my mother's death actually. I think that's really what I was raging about and I kind of took it out on everything in a lot of ways.
But equally, I saw myself as a protest singer and that's what I wanted to be. So I didn't punch anybody, I didn't do anything violent to anybody but I protested through music or through being an artist in angry ways. But I think it was quite controlled.
MATHESON: Is that a stage which is now behind you? You've come to some resolution now with what made you angry?
O'CONNOR: I think age. I think maybe --
would say when you were younger you might have been the same. Do you know
the way in your 20s you go on
marches and you feel --
MATHESON: I can almost remember my 20s.
O'CONNOR:You think you know it all when you're 20, you think you've grown up and you think you can change the world. And then you learn all you can change is your own world, do you know what I mean? But most of us I think in our 20s would have gone through that kind of rebelling against --. I studied [unclear] for awhile and then the teacher, the rabbi Reckende [sp?]. When anyone went on protests what they were really fighting was their father, you know. So I think that may be true to a certain extent -- although I don't think in my case because I always had a great relationship with my father. But maybe patriarchy kind of was what I was fighting in a lot of ways.
MATHESON: Yeah, your dad is one of the people to whom you dedicate the CD. Tell us about the others.
the Rastafarian people are the people -- I'm very influenced by Hinduism,
Judaism, Christianity, Muslim
and Baptism but in particular Rastafarianism. I like religions which don't withhold the magic from people. I like religions which
hand over the magic to you and allow you to pass it over to other people. And the Rastafarian people are the people who when
you're around them you really feel the presence of God, a sense that God is really in each person whereas sometimes other
religions can accidentally give the impression that God is almost dead or something out there, outside of us, but not living in
us, do you know?
MATHESON: And can you share that message through music? Is music the right medium, do you think?
O'CONNOR:I think it's one of the only mediums insofar as I think it's probably the only medium that communicates through to a person's soul. It doesn't go through your mind or through your heart even. It really communicates with your soul. And I don't think even movies or paintings or anything in particular can do that. I think most people can say that there is at least one musician who literally saved their life, do you know what I mean? I think if you looked at yourself again you might find there's one artist who when you were young --
MATHESON: Who spoke to you, yes.
O'CONNOR:Yeah, exactly. So I think it's a very powerful method of change and the only way sometimes in this world in which the soul is represented at all, because this world doesn't teach us about soul. The word soul is hardly ever used, even.
MATHESON: Well, it seems to me, as someone who's followed and listened to popular music for quite some time now we get rather cyclical in terms of soulful music being popular because right now you know what's popular right now: 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears and that lightweight dance-pop stuff.
MATHESON: Are you going to be a lost voice?
O'CONNOR: No. I don't have to be the type of voice that they are and I don't necessarily want to be in the huge pop mainstream. I love what they do and I really admire all of those artists. What I do is a different thing. I'm an album artist. I'm not a charts or mainstream artist. I accidentally slipped in there and decided to cause a bit of trouble while I was there --
MATHESON: [laughs] How does that ever happen, huh?
O'CONNOR:: Well, I slipped in there and decided to kind of make a bit of a racket while I was in there about soul and about reality and truth and not just about "Oh, baby, baby", do you know what I mean? And money and whatever.
What I'm aiming for is to be a soul artist and I don't think I'm a lost voice from that point of view. Those who have ears will hear and I don't need huge fame or fortune, you know.
MATHESON: Now, I have to ask you this, because I've heard this question asked about you so many times -- they say "She's such a cute girl. Why doesn't she grow her hair and fix herself up?"
O'CONNOR: [laughs] Well, do you not think I look cute now?
MATHESON: Well, in person you do. But why do you have such a severe look?
O'CONNOR: It isn't severe to me. It's a question of perception. I think what we see in other people is something about what's in us, really. I think always when we judge another person we're judging ourselves. People are our mirrors, do you know what I mean? So if I see you -- which I don't -- as being aggressive then perhaps there's something in me which I see as aggressive, do you see what I mean? I think it works like that.
But I think anyone who knows me through my music would know that I'm not an aggressive person although I'm a strong person.
MATHESON: Well, a pleasure meeting you. And good luck with "Faith and Courage".
O'CONNOR: Thank you very much.
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