INTERVIEW WITH SINÉAD O'CONNOR
by Petr Nosalek

August 10, 2000

Translated from Czech by Veronika

It's been thirteen years when almost bald O'Connor ruined views on how the women stars should have to look like. Even now she seems to be just back from reformatory and in a big luxurious club chair of Dublin hotel looks her small figure unfitting. And meantime she received the second name - Mother Bernadette Maria, became a priest of Rastafarian Christian offset and she wears two heavy crosses and Rastafari amulet on her chest, which is anyhow covered - up with bared tartan chemise.

Years between your last albums were rather turbulent, don't you think?
That six years weren't turbulent. If there were any turbulent years, how you say, then preferably some of previous. (laughing)

But you recently said in one interview, that album Faith And Courage was "trying-not-to-die album."
No no, this is misunderstanding. I said I took hard times when I went to studio but songs aren't about it, because I wrote them before. "Trying-not-to-die" was rather recording itself.

People often charge that gall is magnificent source of the best art. Do you think you can do better pieces when you feel grief?
I think it's a nonsense that human  has to feel grief to become a good artist. I know from my own experience that the opposite is truth.

When you started, you was crazy about hip-hop. But when listen to the last album, it sounds like being influenced by celtic music and reggae more. Did your music liking changed?
I am still crazy about hip-hop, nowadays I like Mary J. Blige. But rhytm'n'blues takes me more. And I always loved reggae-I mean ancestral reggae, although you couldn't hear it on my previous records. I wanted to connect rasta-sound with Irish traditional music for a long time.

How did you come at Rastafarianism?
When I was seventeen years old, I left Dublin and lived next 13 years in London until the last year. Rastafarians were one of the first people whom I met there. And my manager was a big reggae fan and he had a lot of records with this music, which I didn't know before. Their lyrics were my Bible. Thanks to him I met other Rastamen. They were very inspirational. I found Rastafarianism is alike Hebraism and Hinduism in the way of magical incepting of presence of God. Rastafarianism is a form of Christianity and when I became a priest , it was the greatest act,
which the real Rastafarian can fulfill. I think it's not right  to point at Church and say "This is a devil for Rastafarians, Vatican is demonology for them." I say "When you think you can do it better, go and do it". The real Rastafarian is a friend who will help you.

Don't you offer your listeners something else today than they expect? Don't they want you to be still rather furious arrogant bugger from earlier days?
I don't think I was furious arrogant bugger. I would say I was very polite young lady who naturally felt anger  because of nightmarish relationships in which I had to grew up. I never lay hands on anybody, never encouraged in my songs to violence, as many people do, now. I think there is no difference between what listeners want from me and what I give them. They get old along with me. When my first album was released  I was twenty and I was a bugger in my twenty-two, maybe. In this age it is natural that many thinks chase you. But human is more  peaceful with age and I am 33. And there is one more thing: anger is the first step to courage. If Vaclav Havel hadn't been angry, you would not have Czech Republic. He is also my fan, actually!
 
Did you ever met with him?
Yes. I sang to him when he was in Ireland for state visit as a guest of our  president. He said he will not leave until I will give encore. It was very complimentary but the happiest was father of my daughter.I took him with me because he has a big respect for Vaclav Havel. Specially for your president I chose a beautiful song which was written by Irish author and my fellow Nick Kelly. Song is called Republic and engage in dialogue of father and son about the birth of republic. President Havel liked it much.

What are your remembrances of Prague?
The first thing which recalls to my mind is such beautiful black egg with Black Madonna in gold with Infant Jesus. Me and father of my daughter, we bought it in a stall. I have it exposed on my dressing table. The egg represents baby in my belly-my daughter whom we conceived in Prague. But we had a precious ganja in Prague, too. (laughing)

Is it possible to joint mission of being priest and pop-music singer?
Why not? For me Van Morrison is priest. Bob Marley, too. And Bob Dylan, too. Rapper Mace - I'm not sure that it was he or rapper Nas - even gave up music and became priest. Or Cat Stevens. Or Al Green. Or Aretha Franklin. There is a lot of us, in short. But I want to say one thing: I don't consider myself  pop-star. I am not oriented to singles but I am oriented to albums so I am not pop-star.

On your new album there is a song The Lamb's Book Of Life. In this song you sing "Words can't express how sorry I am if I ever caused pain to anybody". But recently you said  you're not sorry that you've done those things but you're sorry if you hurt anyone by this. Does that mean you didn't know about after-effects of your acting?
I will explain it with example, it will be the best. So, there is a family and one of the parents sexually abuse one of the children. Elder sibling will inform police. He knows he did a good thing but he also knows he will cause a pain to his family. I think this example describes very  well how I was acting and what I was saying.

In an open letter you apologized Pope that you ripped up a photo of him once before... 
No, I never apologized I ripped up his photo but I apologized for being revolutionary.
Actually I didn't say it this way. I wrote I am revolutionary and from this reason I please him for his forgiving. I will always be revolutionary-just as was Jesus. I never apologized for ripping up Pope's photo and I will never do it.

Pope left your letter without answer, would you like to met with him?
(Grudgingly) I'd like to met with him, but outside Vatican. I would not step inside Vatican as a Rastafarian. I'd rather met with him in my own house.

Do you think that ordination changed you?
Yes, extremely.

How?
It fills me with peace, with feeling of dropping anchor, feeling of spiritual connection - I always felt it, but now it is much more intensive - and a knowledge of the objective.

You say that singing and priesthood are inseparable for you. Nevertheless, can you imagine to give up singing to work fully in profession of priest?    
No. God requires from me to be not only priest, but a singer, too. I wouldn't give up singing. Singer has to sing, or he would get crazy. When I will be too old for singing, maybe in 50 or 60, I think I will devote more to profession of priest. But I can't imagine it now. These two professions are connected in one, for me.

But you're not only singer, Catholic priest, Rastafarian, it is said that you act as occult medium. How it tie together with religion?
Surely priest is a medium, too. At the hand of the Host evokes a spirit of Jesus Christ. When you receive the Host, you receive Christ's spirit. I don't know why some people understand it hard. But this ability isn't given only to the chosen, a medium can be really everyone.

Tried you  to establish contact with a spirit of the dead one? 
Oh yes, yes.

And how it worked?
Fabulously.

Changed all these experiences your reference to money?
Since that time I'm a priest, money is much more important to me. Because I realize that the more money I make, the more I can give to people in need. Sooner it was different and I had a luck I was making them so easily. Now, in my 33, when I'm priest I need a lot of fucking mon'!

Which reminds me of pledge to let out strong words, which you gave yourself after ordination, but it doesn't succeed, does it?
Yeah. I am from Dublin, where every haybag horrible curse. We're worse than male. We curse even between syllables, we say perhaps fanfuckingtastic  or abfuckingsurd. I curse everywhere I go.

Do you think that God doesn't mind?
I think that outfuckingright not.

We speak together in a day of 15th anniversary of the greatest rock benefaction Live Aid. How do you look at the charity actions of pop stars?
I appreciate it, it is important, of course. But I think that ordinary people do much more, people who don't have a lot of money but they give it anyway - this is much meritorious than what we, rich, do. We don't have any problem to give a big money. But when it would come about it I don't know who of us  would give the last penny like some unknown lady.The thing that we do some charity doesn't mean anything, because we remain the same greedy.

Do you think you would buy a church once and - when you'll be ready, as you said - to serve religious ceremonials yourself? When you think you'll be ready?
I realize I am known person and I have to be careful. If I would have been doing religious ceremonials - masses, funerals or christenings - most obviously there would be medial circus around it. Because of  this reason I will not serve public masses until I will be about 40 or 50, when there will not be that controversy, I hope. Until that time I will pursue religious activity privately - I already serve private masses and work with individual people.

When you were ordinated you received an obligation of celibacy, but you endured it only three months, because it doesn't work...
Mmm, it works and it doesn't... I live in celibacy, well, mostly. (laughing) I don't have a steady partner, because I decided not to keep steady relationship. But I have boyfriends, and I can make love with them when I want to.

It is said, that in seventieth was rock heterosexual, in eightieth homosexual and in ninetieth bisexual.You went through all stages in last decade. Do you know your sexuality better after all?
I am sure with my bisexuality, now.

Before seven years you said "If you think I'm a firebrand, gird yourself close.My son Jake Reynolds is on that way." Hold these words nowadays?
I said it before my daughter Roisin was born. (laughing) So I have that two. But seriously: they are no firebrands. They are very talented, which I can say about my nephew Vincent, too. You know, we come from a family of singers and actors and our children inherited it - Roisin is a singer, Jake is a rapper and Vincent is an actor. All can get on very much. And when I say they will not be firebrands, I hope I will help them to reach it with my experiences of my own firebrandy!

You won your daughter and moved to Dublin for her, but your son stayed in London. How do you bear it?
It's hard. I had to move here, because father of my daughter wouldn't find a job in London. Roisin is half of time with her father and half of time with me. But my son didn't want to go to Dublin and this is a problem, because I can't be in two places in the same time. But overall I am happier a lot just now. If there was no terrible plea, I would not come back home - and this is the best thing which could happen. I was miserable in London, felt grief. But here in Dublin I'm happy now.

And what would be your wish to your children, to be happy in their lives?
A lot of self-esteem, a lot of mercy. And to have a lot of children - I want to be a grandma!
 

Very special thanks to Veronika who took the time to translate this piece into English so that much more people appreciate it.

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