October 13, 2014


Everything You Need to Know About Hozier

Helen Boast/Redferns via Getty Images
Helen Boast/Redferns via Getty Images

Love "Take Me to Church"? Catch up with all of Hozier's other singles and videos including:

Move over, Sam Smith: there's a new voice to be reckoned with echoing out across the northern Atlantic, and that voice belongs to Hozier

Andrew Hozier-Byrne released his self-titled debut via Columbia on October 7 and given the amount of attention he's received for an exceptional festival circuit run in 2014 and "Take Me To Church," his thought-provoking breakthrough single, you'd think he's been plugging along on the road to stardom for much longer. In the event that you're just hearing the gospel of "Take Me To Church" for the first time or you've never laid eyes on that incredible head of hair behind a microphone, here's a quick primer on the next major singer-songwriter to pick up a guitar and snag our heartstrings. Read on for more.

Irish origins: Don't let the Americana-sounding, gospel-crooning tracks off his record fool you: Hozier's not from the Deep South or any place that banks on bluegrass and classic country. He's from Ireland's County Wicklow, which sits just above Dublin. He was also born on St. Patrick's Day, which is a point everyone probably makes when they meet the poor guy. (We can't pick up on the accent when he sings, either.)

Hozier's inherited blues roots: Hozier grew up with an appreciation for traditional Irish music, but blues was the soundtrack in the Hozier-Byrne house. His dad played the blues in Dublin when Hozier was a kid, and he followed in his footsteps as a music student at Trinity College before dropping out to record the demos that would eventually lead to his big break. The two EPs he dropped prior to Hozier showcase some of the standout tracks from the album ("Take Me To Church," "Cherry Wine," etc.), so fans have had their hands on versions of these songs for about a year now.

"Take Me To Church" is more than a single, it's a statement: "Take Me To Church," the first single off Hozier, makes for a totally enthralling anthem. It reworks religious imagery and constructs to tell a tale of lasting love, but the video is what really caught people's attention. In it, two men kiss and are eventually tracked down and beaten, and the video was conceived and dropped with the intention to raise awareness and support for gay marriage following Russia's criminalization of homosexuality. Backstage at Lollapalooza, Hozier was candid and direct about the song in this Fuse exclusive, especially about why gay marriage isn't a controversial subject for him at all:

"The song, to me, is about what it is to be a human, what it is to love someone as a human being, and organizations that would undermine that, and undermine the more natural parts of being a person. If you feel offended or disgusted by the image of two people kissing, if that's what it is, but you're more disgusted by that than the actual violence...I think you should take a look at your values, maybe. I don't think there really should be a controversy when we're talking about a basic human right and the equal treatment of people. Electing a person in the place of an organization, like the church, as something that is worth worshiping and something that is worth loving, something tangible and real...there's a lot to the song, but if I need to stand up and swing from the corner, I'm happy to do that."

Hozier also gave a vague response to those who think "Take Me to Church" is his coming out anthem. In an interview with Reuters, who says Hozier was inspired by a breakup with a girlfriend, the singer responded to assumptions the song and video seemingly confirm his sexuality.

"Yes, people do make that assumption (that I am gay), which is fine," he told the the outlet in London. "But for me I don't think it's the point, you know what I mean? It doesn't come into it what my sexual orientation is...regardless of the sexual orientation behind a relationship, it is still a relationship and still love... So people are free to make any assumption they want, it's grand."

"Work Song" is his next single: To follow-up the huge smash that was "Take Me to the Church"—which hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart—Hozier will keep the gospel sound alive with "Work Song." The singer confirmed his new single on the GRAMMY 2015 red carpet. Get ahead of the curve by listening to it now:

A perfect blend of rock 'n' soul: Hozier is full of grand, spirited declarations of love and affection set to straightforward and approachable guitars. The contrast found in his folkier tracks is a welcome one, and shows the range of his vocal abilities and musical knowledge in spades. While "Jackie and Wilson" and "Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene" may feel right at home in a raucous rock club, "Cherry Wine" and "Like Real People Do" demonstrate how less can lead to more when there's little more than an acoustic guitar and a stunning voice involved. Need convincing? Check out his breathtaking Tiny Desk Concert below.

Hozier's famous fans: Ed Sheeran recently covered "Take Me To Church" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. Up-and-coming dance floor queen Kiesza gave the lead-off single from the album a spin, too. The verdict? "Take Me To Church" is so universally appealing that everyone is trying to get their hands on its soulful verses.

A packed, pre-debut schedule: His first sold-out American tour will keep him busy through the fall as Hozier's already selling out the majority of his American tour dates in 2014. SXSW, Sasquatch!, Lollapalooza, ACL Fest, Newport Folk: not a bad festival showing for his first real promotion cycle behind an album, and Hozier's just getting started while gearing up for what's sure to be a huge 2015.

Creativity runs in the family: The captivating art that decorates the front of Hozier's EPs and debut album wasn't just the commissioned work of a talented painter: it was dreamed up specifically for him by his mama! Rose Hozier-Byrne is the genius behind the amazing mixed media images that canvas the front of his records, and the front of Hozier is an inventive portrait that gives the singer-songwriter a surreal facelift. (Literally. His face isn't even his face anymore; Mom totally took a seascape and subbed it in for Hozier's features.) Dad's a blues musician, mom's an artist—naturally, Hozier's following in his parents' footsteps when it comes to creative expression.

Great tunes call for great hair: Apparently, we can throw thanks dad's way for the fantastic 'do.