Hozier has recently started putting out new music into the world after four years away. It’s hardly a surprise to hear he’s already tugging at the heartstrings of fans.
Releases such as ‘Francesca’ and ‘Unknown / Nth’, have received a huge amount of love in the past few weeks, sure to only grow stronger in the lead up to record Unreal Unearth, out on 18 August.
The 33-year-old is currently riding high off the back of a secret set at Glastonbury (which he admits to telling “one or two friends” about) as he chats to me ahead of a gig in Newcastle.
Hozier sits down with Attitude to chat about everything from his unwavering support as an LGBTQ+ ally, how TikTok has helped him create music, and how excited he is to be back on tour post-pandemic.
“It’s nice to feel the energy of the crowd again”
He feels crowds at gigs and festivals have changed for the better now he’s on the road again: “We spent so much time in quiet and away from shows, I get a sense from crowds and the festivals that I have played, doing Glastonbury, for example, there’s a kind of a new appreciation, a renewed, recharged sense of appreciation and enjoyment.
“It’s so easy to take these kind of large scale events for granted. It’s nice to feel the energy of the crowd again,” Hozier adds.
He first shot back to fame in 2013 with ‘Take Me To Church’, which sought to address homophobia and discrimination through a moving video.
But he believes, in some ways, the message is more relevant than ever. “The single and video were released 10 years ago, but in some respects, it’s more applicable now than it was back then.
“The video focused on stuff that was happening in Russia at the time, with this Neo-fascist gang targeting LGBTQ+ youth.”
His reasoning for making this the theme of the video was to highlight how “online spaces do not have borders”, and continues: “It’s been it’s awful to see that 10 years later, the spirit of solidarity is really being challenged right now.
“There’s this sort of right-wing backlash, and counter-culture thing going on, which is quite terrifying… if ever you needed to be reminded that the fight never is really won, on any issue.”
Hozier has acquired a huge LGBTQ+ following in the years to have followed. He’s spoken out about issues such as the Pope’s gay rights stance, and very recently played the ‘Love Rising’ event in Nashville, pushing back against anti-LGBTQ+ laws popping up in Tennessee.
“The spirit of solidarity is really being challenged right now”
“For me, it’s something that is never going to stop being important to me,” he explains. “I’ll always be able to speak my mind and be supportive of the LGBTQ+ culture and community. Especially when it’s cases of such as scapegoating.
“With regard to the drag ban. It’s incredible to me that Church operatives, and people who are coming from the tradition of the Church, which has endangered children for generations, would lean on the argument of protecting children.
“Again, there’s no definition, how do you define drag? The t-shirt that I’m wearing right now could be a women’s t shirt, no one would know the difference. You know what I mean? It’s such a ridiculous, weird, selective definition of what drag is,” he points out.
Hozier goes on to add of the regressive anti-drag laws: “It’s absurd, it really is crazy that you could be trying to try to put that out in legislation. I mean, the hypocrisy is baffling to me, it’s just staggering.
“As long as injustice, like that is continuing and hypocrisy like that is continuing, I’ll always be a supporter and ally against it, for sure.”
The past few years have given him the chance to be back home in Ireland, on his own, mainly spending lots of time by the sea and on nature’s doorstep.
“I’ll always be able to speak my mind and be supportive of the LGBTQ+ culture and community”
“That time to sit and reflect on stuff and having all that time alone, it offered me tonnes of time to think about, so many facets of my life and how I approach it and my work.
“It also gave me the opportunity to… I won’t say recharge my batteries, but it gave me a new appreciation of working with other people and working in a different way. It opened the door for me to be dynamic in how I make work,” he shares.
One of these ways is through trying out new music on TikTok. Before putting Unknown / Nth out into the world, he popped a demo up on the app. It was soon clear it was a hit with fans.
“I put up a video just playing the first two verses and a chorus from it,” Hozier recalls. “The response to it was quite strong, I always wanted to share this sooner rather than later, I felt like there was an appreciation for it.
“It is nice, in that regard, to get to hand it over finally after there was so much love for it shown early on. I’m enjoying just playing it. It is a song I definitely have a real soft spot for.”
Away from fan reaction, there’s plenty of potential room for collaboration elsewhere, too. He’s spending the rest of the year touring across the UK, Europe and US, with guests including one of Attitude’s very own Pride Icon winners, Victoria Canal.
“I just finished up a few shows with the amazing Alison Russell, from the States, incredible artist,” he shares. “I’m doing some shows here with Victoria Canal, a stunning artist, songwriter. I’m hoping to sing a few songs with her when we’re on the road together.
“To be back in Glastonbury, and play that show, it was special”
“An artist I was in touch with recently and would love to work with is Ethel Cain. I’m very, very excited about her work. We touched base recently, we just picked up contact. I’d love to do some shows with Ethel… maybe write a song.”
We would love to see this.
With a tour, album and more on the way this year, Hozier is full of appreciation for the incredible year he’s having so far.
“Glastonbury was a real highlight for me, I loved it,” he continues. “To be back in Glastonbury, and play that show, it was special. I just played Malahide castle in Dublin. That was a really fun event.
“I’m playing Alexandra Palace soon and then back in London later this year to play Wembley Arena, which is a big deal for me. Some of [my biggest-ever shows] are happening this year and I’m really excited about that.
“I’m proud of this album, I’m just proud of the songs on us. And I just hope that people that people enjoy it,” he concludes.