The Unstoppable Hoster
We live in a century of superstars “from a neighboring courtyard,” from Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard to Khozier, who is currently tearing away to the full on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Niall Doherty traveled to New York to find out what makes this humble Irish singer unstoppable.
Troubadours come to power! Take a look at the album charts for the last six months and you will see them in the TOP-20, with their emotional hymns and names that evoke the memory of a school friend: Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Ben Howard, James Bay. These sensitive young people are currently the stars of Britain’s largest music scene — honest white guys who write serious songs about their feelings, even if they don’t feel part of this scene. Because they are on their own.
You can be forgiven if you think that, since there are now quite a few new singers in the domestic market, it makes no sense to import new ones. But you will be wrong. Because one of the key figures of the new wave sailed to our shores through the Irish Sea in 2014 with his colossal hit “Take Me To Church”. Andrew Hozier-Byrne, also known as Hozier, is still on a crazy take-off since then.
Sitting in a restaurant on the ground floor of Rockefeller Shopping Center in New York, a twenty-five-year-old guy from the city of Bray in Wicklow County resembles a man charged with adrenaline of success: “Take Me To Church” gained more than 243 million plays on Spotify, and an accompanying video about the attack crowds on a gay couple watched over 140 million times. This is one of those songs that come out every few years – a song that sounds on TV when you go to sleep, put on the air when you get up in the morning, and that goes around in your head when you wake up in the middle of the night. She is everywhere. This is a pompous anthem of all offended and dissatisfied, an ideal composition to demonstrate Hozier’s soulful blues singing.
Hoster did not even imagine that she would reach even the “mainstream song”. He never wanted to be popular, and the idea of fame and the cult of “celebrity” worries him, but now he is part of it. Teenagers write to him about their demons, mothers from the outskirts sing his latest Facebook clip, and radio presenters are wondering if he even had “that.”
“Literally this morning, one of the first questions in the interview was:“ When was the last time you had sex? ”He says with a note of discontent, although on the whole he is very friendly and polite.“ This is not asked of strangers. Nothing didn’t even bring up this question! ” Recently, he had a chance to read a gossip column discussing whether he was in a relationship with Taylor Swift.
“It’s unbelievable when you look at the headline, and there are some fabrications,” he says, adding that they are just friends and that gossip is “nonsense.”
In Khozier there is a certain carelessness and vulnerability. He is a striking personality – growing up with Peter Crouch and with long, wavy hair making him look like a less obsessed version of Russell Brand. He speaks calmly and eloquently, can be distracted and begin to talk about things that you can not hear from the mouth of a pop star. For example, the Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht or the theory of cognitive dissonance. He does not use hackneyed phrases, and nothing in him even hints that he is “a guy from the red carpet.” This does not correlate well with the fact that this man performed at the Victoria’s Secret show last year with the song “Take Me To Church”, standing on the podium while underwear models defiled past him. He put up with this unexpected appearance in a glamorous super club, convincing himself that this would not always be the case.
“I can’t imagine myself under the gun of the public for a long time,” he says.
When Hosier made his debut of the same name last year, he imagined that the curve of his career would look like a slow climb, which after about five records will lead to something similar to what he is experiencing now. He sought the gradual success of PJ Harvey or Nick Cave. It’s good that he was very busy, he says, because he didn’t have time to understand what was going on.
“I didn’t take the strangeness of all this to heart,” he explains. “Maybe that’s why it took me a while to realize that this was all happening for real.”
Hoster is apprehensive about oversaturation and “stuffing music in the throat of people”, especially in Ireland, where the song “Take Me to Church” was released a year earlier than in the rest of the world. The reaction to his success, he says, has never been as violent as here. His parents are proud of him, their fears associated with his decision to quit music studies at Trinity College in Dublin and become a singer have finally subsided. He was born in a musical environment and remembers the period between how he learned to crawl and walk, and how he started going to blues concerts in Dublin, where his father played drums.