Yes, Hozier has seen those memes about him being a mythical forest warlock

Andrew Hozier-Byrne is fresh off the back of a UK and Ireland tour, and is preparing for the release of his third album, Unreal Unearth.

Later this year he’ll head back on the road to play a deluge of new songs for hungry fans from the 16-track, otherworldly and often haunting upcoming record.

The star, from County Wicklow in Ireland, has a strong legion of fans scattered around the world, people who have fallen in love with his music, his repeated vocal solidarity with the LGBT+ community, and just him as a person.

But if you’re even vaguely aware of Hozier, you’re probably also aware of how he’s seen by a fair percentage of fans: he’s described, sometimes jokingly, sometimes adoringly earnestly, as some sort of forest warlock: at one with nature, casting spells, probably writing his lyrics with a quill by candlelight in a cottage in the bog.

And yes, Hozier is aware of this – and he’s seen the memes.

Asked how he feels about this persona, he laughs, and says: ‘I just feel like myself to myself.

‘It’s something that I’ve definitely seen a few memes of, a few things online. Sometimes it’s pretty humorous. I think I just try to keep a healthy distance from how people interpret me as a person. I’m just me at the end of the day.’

Hozier’s lyrics are a major part of this perception of him – there aren’t many writers who could succesfully romanticise the idea of getting lost in the mountains and the ground swallowing up your decaying body as it gets picked clean by wildlife – and the new album has plenty more of this to come.

He reveals he was heavily inspired while reading ‘old epic poetry’ while working on the album: things like Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Dante’s Inferno.

‘A part of those left a little mark on me and formed some of the inspiration for moments in the album, the structure of it,’ he explains.

Asked if these are the types of things he wrote about as a child, he admits he ‘can’t really remember’ the first thing he wrote, but was ‘always a bit macabre as a kid.’

‘I was drawn to the darker sort of fairytales. I think I always haad a bit of a flair for it, but I couldn’t tell you where it comes from.’

As for whether his own breathtaking lyrics could take a different form in future, such as in poetry or fiction, he hesitates before admitting: ‘I wouldn’t discount it.’

‘I would never say never, but I never really considered myself much of a prose writer, a long-form writer. I tend to stay in the short form. Quick bursts of getting an idea across in a second. But I wouldn’t discount it.’

Some fans have been lucky enough to get early glimpses of new tracks on Hozier’s recent tour, and the musician says the reaction has been ‘very special so far’.

‘I have a lot of favourites on this album. I’m excited to share First Light, I’m looking forward to singing that live. I think it will be a wonderful song to add to the set.’

The most recent tour has seen the Irish star meet fans around the world, who he lauds as ‘incredibly smart, very kind and conscientious’.

‘I met some great folks, met some great young writers. I was really moved by them and who they were as people,’ he says.

‘Whenever you meet someone who makes art or writes and they tell you that your work has formed part of their formative years, that’s something that’s really special, it’s something I’m experiencing on this tour.’

The musician is recognised a lot, even at home when not touring or recording – because ‘I’m so lanky and tall.’

‘I do get spotted at home. I think I’m at my most recognisable at home.

‘But the people who have always known me and been close to me, my close circles, I’m still and always the person I’ve always been.’

Unreal Unearth is out August 18.

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