Since his breakout 2013 EP Take Me to Church and the 2014 self-titled album that followed, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier has quick cemented his place in the music landscape. Despite his hot start and the critically acclaimed follow-up Wasteland, Baby!, released in March, one simple thing seems to trip-up some listeners: how to pronounce his name.
Some will pronounce it every way from "Hose-e-air" to "Hozzer" and everything in between. When we chatted with the 29-year-old rocker at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival back in June, he kindly obliged when we asked him to settle the confusion around the pronunciation.
"Okay, the easiest way to pronounce it, I suppose, is think of: It rhymes with cozier, or it rhymes with nosier," he said. "So it's just 'Hozier.'"
Hozier, whose stage name is derived from his full name Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, also dished on some of the worst ways he's ever heard it mispronounced.
"The worst way it's ever been (botched), I'd say, somebody shouting 'Steven' over at me. Nothing like it," he said jokingly ahead of his set at the Manchester, Tennessee, festival. "No. I get a lot of like, 'Hose-e-ays,' which is fine because it is originally a French name. So that makes sense. And 'Hoser,' not quite. 'Hoosier;' Look, it is what it is."
Name-talk aside, Hozier has been on the road promoting Wasteland, Baby! all year, with European and U.S. dates still to come through the end of 2019. The album has helped solidify Hozier as one of top singer-songwriters working, but many thought it could not be done. Hozier risked being a flash-in-the-pan due to the monster success of his single "Take Me to Church," but he simply powered through and focused on writing tight material.
"I think when you have a song like that, that was a bit of a crossover ... I was unsigned, pretty much, when that song was written, and poor. And it was kind of coming from an indie place and then it just became this huge kind of mainstream, top-five kind of pop hit, which was super cool," Hozier said of the song. "I think replicating that or trying to replicate the chart success and success by numbers would mean writing by numbers and that would mean writing music that sounded like other charting hits. "Take Me To Church" never was that. It never sounded like a charting hit; it kind of stood outside of that. And so it was a bit of an outlier, it was a bit of a dark horse, maybe."
He continued, "I think the pressure was more just to write stuff that came from a similar ethos. Yeah, some people will follow your work on from that and some people won't, but I think what was more important to me was continue to write with an eye and with an aspiration to write and the ethos to write, with a similar ethos that I wrote that song with and a similar approach that I wrote that song with. That was what I tried to do."
Among songs on his sophomore effort that share that ethos is the powerful "Nina Cries Power," a protest song that references music legends like James Brown, Nina Simone, John Lennon and Mavis Staples. Mavis, herself, actually features guest vocals at the song, and Hozier dished on how exactly the collaboration came about.
"So there was a bit of talk back and forth about us getting together on some sort of project. It never really came to fruition. We never got a chance to sit down and talk to one another," Hozier said. "And then when that song was written, when "Nina Cried Power" was coming to fruition or the song was making sense, and the names of artists were in there including Mavis, it just was a no-brainer. She kind of embodies, in her work and her legacy embodies what that song tries to say. And so we sent it to her, she was in Chicago at the time, and we flew out to Chicago."
Wasteland, Baby! is available wherever you buy or stream your music. Hozier's tour dates can be found on his official site.
Photo Credit: PopCulture.com / John Connor Coulston