WICKLOW DELTA BLUES
A year in the life of Andrew Hozier-byrne from those who know him best
One day in spring this year, Andrew Hozier-Byrne was walking down Parliament Street in Dublin with his guitar case. He had just returned from an American tour that featured performances in New York and at SXSW, and had celebrated his 24th birthday – which falls on St Patrick’s Day – in Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. (A pre-tour show in Whelan’s before he set off already seems like a quaint relic.) Within a week in May, Hozier had performed Take Me To Church on the Late Show with David Letterman and on Ellen.
The previous December, Hozier was standing on the altar of the St James’ Church with his hand trembling. Performing at Other Voices was a big deal for a guy who had just released an EP, but not a surprise to those who had heard about the A&R crush at his Button Factory show during the Hard Working Class Heroes festival a month previously. But what had really caught people’s attention was the video for
Take Me To Church, directed by Feel Good Lost’s Brendan Canty. The video referenced the violence perpetrated against gay men in Russia, and managed that rare thing of creating an epic in a few minutes.
Before Other Voices, Hozier gave his first newspaper interview to The Irish Times. He was so softly spoken, it was difficult to hear his voice on the recording afterwards. His mum drove him to the interview in the Central Hotel, a quiet room where he barely raised the volume. He talked about reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man while writing songs. Of the tracks already released, he spoke in quiet abstracts that on reflection sounded revealing and dramatic. “If I was to speak candidly about it,” he said, of how a relationship influenced his writing, “I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was death – a death of everything.
‘There’s a tactile nature to the lyrics and it’s often about sensory things, but also I think because a lot of the influences are from blues; blues music is just sex’