The Journey of the Legendary Loreena McKennitt


Yet your music ties in other elements: there is a distinct Middle Eastern quality to it as well. How did that influence get stitched to the sensibilities that came from your Scottish and Irish background?

As I was learning more about the history of the Celts. I went to an exhibition in Venice and realized that they were all over Europe, Asia Minor, and Turkey. There were so many groups that were drawing from the Celtic nations that I set out to explore the history of the Celts wherever they were. For “Mask and Mirror” I started to visit Spain and Morocco, then traveled in the Middle East and incorporated what I saw and heard into the music. On the album “Book of Secrets” I went further there because I was getting a bit of confidence that people would accept that branching out, the expansion on what it is to be Celtic. I’ve been to Turkey to an archaeological dig and saw the Celtic connection in the artifacts. That gets incorporated into my music as well.

Do you consider yourself a mystic? Many associate your music with a certain mysticism.

I would not. I think there are people who devote their lives to that. I have an appreciation for that but I don’t consider myself one. I suppose I am a conduit to it if people.

Are there any influences in your music that would surprise people?

Not really. I was keen on Tom Waits and Kate Bush in the Eighties as well as Peter Gabriel. Because I have recorded at real World so much, I have had the benefit of watching Peter fuse these diverse cultures. He’s like Paul Simon in that way. Fusing those cultures is something I like. There are pop influences I like but I never set out to imitate them. If anything, it gave me a license to expand the boundaries of my own music.

Does the experience of looking back inspire anything for you going forward? What can fans expect next from you?

Creatively, there are strands I have dangling out there that I need to explore. I just returned from Rajasthan and there are great influences there that I’d like to explore. I’ve had a steady tempo of things since 2006. I know people are waiting for something new. I am aware of that. However, I am so heavily involved in the management of what I have that I am looking forward to getting the operational house in order first. The music industry has collapsed to such a degree the question is how could you create something like I have in the past and make it work in this marketplace.

I would imagine that would limit someone like you. You were known for lush packaging and promotion.

It touches everything because you have to apply a realistic budget. It goes from flying people in from Greece and other parts of the world to get these influence and then taking a staff like that in a road. All those creative choices: hiring a choral group, etc. It all is cost prohibitive. People are out there with just an acoustic guitar because that’s all they can afford. I mean, I am lucky and have certain economic things in my favor, so I will be okay in the long run. I’m not the only one trying to find that balance. Music is such an exceptional medium of communication and right now the economics threaten that. 

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