Loreena McKennitt has been successful in the music business for many years. In addition to her own multi-award-winning music, she also founded her own label and produces music herself. Thirty years ago, her album “The Visit” gave Loreena access to the international stage, selling over 2 million albums – and that very album has now been re-released on Blu-ray Audio as The Visit: The Definitive Edition.
We had the honor to talk to the exceptional artist about her work, her impressive life and her career.
The topic initially fell on the current pandemic situation. McKennitt is involved in many charitable projects and tells us that some of them have currently had to be put on hold. Instead, she was able to enjoy her native Ontario, Canada, going camping and hiking. But the cultural sector in particular is also a source of concern for her.
“Since vaccinations have become more widespread, cultural life is slowly coming back, but it is far from where it used to be. Although the measures that have been taken have been good, they have hit culture and gastronomy especially hard,” she describes the situation.
The remaking of The Visit was also created during the lockdown. “The idea came from my colleague Ian Blackaby in London and we started thinking about what content we would have for a repackage in January 2020 and looked through photos and footage. I know my fans are interested in the process and context in which everything happens, so I wrote some essays on that. And we held a roundtable discussion with the people involved from that time.”
The feelings and thoughts McKennitt associates with The Visit are still the same. On the one hand, she recalls how The Visit was the first album under the major label Warner and how it was a stepping stone from “small independent artist” to internationally successful musician.
On the other hand, the issues that preoccupied her at the time she put the album together continue to preoccupy her.
“When I look back 30 years, a lot of the things that kept me occupied still keep me occupied now, and that falls into two categories. One is the loss of cultural structures such as traditions, rituals and celebrations over the decades, and that was the real reason for a piece like “The Old Ways”. I have been traveling to Ireland since about 1981, and when I visited Ireland about a decade later, I could already see an erosion of some of the cultural elements that I had come to know ten years earlier.
The second theme that has run through my music over the years has to do with nature and the environment, especially trees. There is hardly a record of mine that doesn’t have a song about trees or a lyric that refers to trees. And certainly it’s a matter that concerns me even more now as I try to act as a responsible global citizen when it comes to this climate emergency and the role of trees. I live on a farm near Toronto, and since I bought the farm in 1993, I’ve planted over 2000 trees here, and this spring alone we planted another 400.
So that was in my mind then and it still is.”
The elemnt of immersiven soundexperience was introducedtoMcKennitt aswell throughBlackaby . “When I came to the studio to Roundtable discussion, Ian said, “By the way, have you ever heard anything like that?” and I said, of course, “No, I haven’t.” And he played it for me and I thought, “Oh my God! That’s like sitting in the middle of people on stage!” That’s a whole other dimension that those who can experience it can appreciate.”
* Title photo credits: Richard Haughton