Soul. Why did we start this interview with “soul”, you might ask? Andrew Hozier-Byrne, known for recording under the moniker Hozier, is an Irish singer-songwriter showcasing some of the most soulful rhythm-and-blues we’ve heard in a very long time. After releasing his 2013 EP Take Me to Church, Hozier will drop his newest offering, the From Eden EP, later this month. Wanting to learn more about the release and artist, we spoke with Hozier about influences, hailing from Ireland, the video for Take Me To Church, and Mario Kart.
AMBY: You soon release your From Eden EP here in Canada and the US. While creating the EP, what were some of the highlights?
Hozier: I recorded a lot at home so the highlights wouldn’t exactly be too, too crazy [laughs]. I enjoyed recording Work Song, I think that’s my favourite song from the EP. Putting in the percussions on that and the guitar parts would have been the highlights.
AMBY: While listening to the EP, you can really hear the different nuances of folk, soul, and there’s definitely hints of pop in there. What were your biggest inspirations songwriting-wise that helped influence the overall sound of the EP?
Hozier: The songs and the sounds would be two different influences for me I think.
Hozier: Songwriters who influence me would be people like Tom Waits, or anyone from Paul Simon to Muddy Waters. The sound would be gospel — there was a big gospel influence in the sound. Certainly, as you said, pop music as well. That’s a strong influence in there.
AMBY: Called it [laughs]. When it comes to the title, what’s the significance behind From Eden?
Hozier: It’s not too much of a deliberate or biblical reference, but it’s a song about idealizing somebody I suppose from a distance. I can’t give you a lot about what the significance of it is, but in this case it just is what it is.
AMBY: Yea, it’s funny because we actually ran that track as Song of the Day on the website on February 14th since it was clearly a love song, but I hadn’t realized that complete idealizing someone side of it. I’ve read in other pieces that there’s also a full-length release in the cards for late summer or fall. Could you let us in on this a little more? Have you started recording material for this yet?
Hozier: Absolutely. I just finished up a small American tour and have been recording for the last month. I’ve been in studios kind of getting ready for that, and I’ll be finishing it up soon.
AMBY: Awesome. Is there a release date in mind?
Hozier: I hope to have it finished or released around September. Early September.
AMBY: That’s great! We’ve been speaking of future releases, but I wanted to bring up Take Me To Church for a moment. Since its release last September, the video for Take Me To Church has hit over an impressive two million views. Did you ever expect the song to have such reach and impact on people?
Hozier: No, no. I’d have to say no.
Hozier: It was really when I wrote it and recorded it, I recorded it in an attic, and I had just started playing around with producing stuff myself a little bit. At the time, it was the first EP and I didn’t think it would take off as it did. The video really helped me out, I suppose. It was a huge surprise as it kind of grew.
AMBY: Congrats on the success of the track.
Hozier: Thank you.
AMBY: Of course. Now, moving onto the less serious questions: I’ve read that there’s “none more Irish than Hozier”. How much would you say does hailing from Ireland have an influence on your music?
Hozier: It does a large part. I wouldn’t say that I’m more Irish than anyone [laughs]. But, it certainly does. Especially Take Me To Church in particular, it was written with influences in mind but things that influence Irish society and Irish culture. The songs are written from a perspective from that. Also, a lot of times just having a little fairy tale in some of the songs – it would be influences there in Irish writers and stuff like that. There’s a lot of Irish influence in it and it’s not always the good parts of Irish influences, if that makes sense?
AMBY: It does. On the topic of Irish culture, I wanted to bring up the music from there. It’s been amazing lately! Which other artists from Ireland should our readers look into and check out?
Hozier: Huge amount of great artists! Little Green Cars are a band that I’m a fan of.
AMBY: They’re great.
Hozier: Their music is great, it’s very close to my heart. Then there’s James Vincent McMorrow. I’m a big Lisa Hannigan fan as well. There’s a huge amount to think of… Young Wonder are a fantastic electro new group.
AMBY: I haven’t heard of them, so I’ll have to look them up!
Hozier: Young Wonders, do it. I think you’d like them.
AMBY: I definitely will. Speaking of other artists, who would your dream jam session be with?
Hozier: There’s probably too many to mention, but I would love to work with David Bowie or St. Vincent or Bon Iver or Leslie Feist.
AMBY: What are some things you do for fun when not making music?
Hozier: Things I do for fun, wow, uhm…
Hozier: God, I can’t think [laughs]. I play other music, I record, and then I also like comic books. I love The Walking Dead comic series. The other thing I like is competing with my friends in a good ‘ol fashioned game of Mario Kart.
AMBY: That’s awesome, I love that game [laughs]. Now we’re at the last question which is… What’s something about Hozier that most people don’t know yet?
Hozier: I cameo in the Take Me To Church video. I’m in there somewhere…
Thank you Hozier, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout