A little less than couple of years ago, Andrew Hozier-Byrne sat down in the piano in their parents’ home near Dublin to operate on a song called “Take Me to Church.” Hozier-Byrne would have been a struggling musician, often seen at open mics out. In front of him became a notebook packed with lyrics, a few of which expressed his frustration with organized religion — and especially the Catholic Church’s good mistreating gays and covering up child sexual abuse. “I only agreed to be fumbling around and I discovered the idea for any chorus,” says the singer-songwriter, 24, who performs as Hozier. “Then I went up into your attic making it a little demo.”

Today, the vocals he laid down during this session include the key ingredient in the global smash. “Take Me to Church” would eventually top charts all over the world (thus hitting Number Two from the U.S.), win raves from Taylor Swift and Adele, and create the previously unknown Irish singer high-profile gigs on Saturday Night Live plus the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “I always looked into myself like a very, very obscure artist,” says Hozier. “I i never thought Irish radio can be turned on by my music — or any fucking radio station, excuse my French.”

A soaring ballad that mashes together blues, gospel, folk and soul, “Take Me to Church” feels like little else on Top 40 radio in 2015. Hozier credits this that he grew up in the vastly different environment from most hitmakers. “We lived far out inside the Irish countryside,” he tells. “We stood a very, very bad Internet connection.” His main method to obtain music was his father, who played drums in blues-rock bands and owned a large collection of vinyl and cassettes. “I designed a fascination with the roots of African-American music,” Hozier says. “I love Muddy Waters and Nina Simone. I also watched The Blues Brothers movie again and again.”


Hozier taught himself guitar and sang within his school choir. He was admitted to Dublin’s prestigious Trinity College to review music but dropped out, figuring his time could be better spent writing songs. Progress was slow and hubby eventually moved home, where he previously had his breakthrough moment with “Take Me to Church.” His rough attic demo got the interest of the indie label Rubywords, who teamed him program producer Rob Kirwan, most common for focusing on U2’s Zooropa, Pop and All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

Kirwan heard tremendous potential within the crude demos. “He’s got much soul in their voice and hubby’s a youngster,” he admits that. “He’s just like Adele where his voice belies his age.” They spent a little while replacing the programmed music with live instrumentation, the original vocals on “Take Me to Church” were so powerful he dared not touch them. “I thought he’d have a very slow burning career, like PJ Harvey,” Kirwan says. “I never foresaw a stratospheric rise.”

To promote the song, Rubyworks hired the little Irish production company Feel Good Lost to make a “Take Me to Church” video. Working that has a shoestring budget, they made a stark, black-and-white clip in regards to homosexual man who gets brutally beaten by way of a gang of thugs while his lover looks on helplessly. It gets straight away to the central message from the song. “Growing up, I always the hypocrisy on the Catholic church,” Hozier says. “The history speaks for itself and I grew incredibly frustrated and angry. I essentially just put that into my words.”

Hozier has become labelled an atheist through the press, but he admits that that’s not the truth. “That term is part of a belief that maybe you’ll find nothing,” he admits that. “I’m very comfortable not understanding. I think searching for it is pretty absurd. I think discussions over it are equally absurd. It’s a tough one, but I’m very, very comfortable just not understanding.”

The “Take Me to Church” video went viral after its September 2013 release (it is currently up to 86 million YouTube views). “I remember someone texting me to convey it was getting 10,000 views an hour or so,” says Hozier. “I went home that night and watched the views rise hour by hour. It was only crazy.”

The success on the video attracted a persons vision of labels from worldwide. “He did one gig at the church its keep were about 100 people and 20 of which were A&R reps,” says Kirwan. “If a fifth on the audience your show is A&R guys, you recognize something expires.” One of which was Justin Eshak from Columbia Records. “My friend within the U.K. sent me a connect to the video,” he admits that. “The song is already rocketing within the iTunes charts in Ireland. The very morning after I first heard the song I hopped using a plane and flew to Dublin. I didn’t need to waste any moment.”

Columbia won the U.S. bidding war for Hozier, convinced that “Take Me to Church” can find a place within the American pop landscape. “If you’d taken a song which has a slow tempo plus a heavy subject material to Top 40 this past year they would have checked out you like you’re crazy,” says Eshak. “But there is a shift caused by artists like Sam Smith. The music is connecting because if this gets around the air it’s this sort of sharp juxtaposition to your existing material on Top 40 radio.”

The song first sprouted on an Adult Album Alternative radio station in Nashville. “Just from that that it was the most Shazam’d song in Nashville,” says Eshak. “It’s very unusual with the to happen just off Triple A radio. Shazam usually follows the Top 40. A programmer in the Top 40 station in Nashville saw that reaction, listened on the song and thought we would take a chance.”

It became a huge hit in Nashville, quickly spreading across America during the entire summer and fall of 2014. Offers for live performances began pouring in, and Hozier found himself stepping onto American soil for your first time in the life. “The diversity there is certainly just incredible,” he admits that .”It’s as if the European Union. The states are enormous, almost the dimensions of countries.”

His first gig was at New York’s tiny Slipper Room, but suddenly he was onstage at prestigious places such as Ryman in Nashville. Taylor Swift saw considered one of his shows and tweeted regarding it. “She has more followers than God,” says Hozier. “So that became a big deal. We hung out a lttle bit. She’s incredibly kind and intensely funny. Adele saw me in London, though thankfully I didn’t know until afterwards. I have such respect on her.”

As Hozier criss-crossed America throughout 2014, “Take Me to Church” slowly climbed the charts. Eventually, the decision came in from Saturday Night Live for an October appearance. “The Top 40 crowd is basically just discovering it now,” says Eshak. “Saturday Night Live really helped with that. It’s one with the few institutions left in America, along with terms of credibility it’s simply huge.”

The whole thing is rather baffling for Hozier. “I’m still considering what’s happening,” according to him. “I never wrote music for that mainstream. I think I was incredibly fortunate how the song crossed over and individuals connected with it. Spotify played a major role. It’s a discovery platform and it is been invaluable in my experience over the past year.”

Even though he spent all seasons of 2014 about the road, his calendar for his year has already been booked straight though Christmas. “He’s gotta make hay as the sun shines,” says Kirwan. “His song is within the charts around the radio and the man’s gotta take advantage of all that positive energy. But how could he have time to create a second album, not to mention record it?”

Hozier is aware from the dilemma. “Sadly, I’m too busy to operate on my second album in every meaningful way,” he states. “But I employ a guitar with my everywhere I go and I’ll try to keep the ideas coming. I just won’t be able to do much meaningful work until 2016, I think. We’ve just had some fantastic offers this season and we don’t wish to pull any punches. We’re really taking it.”

The probability of “Take Me to Church” becoming too big does weigh on him. “You wouldn’t like a song to get bigger than yourself,” he states. “I mean, will you? Maybe you do. I don’t know. I guess I’ll uncover.”

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