Twenty-four year old Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrnes (who performs under the moniker Hozier) will make his Saturday Night Live debut as the musical guest for this weekend’s Bill Hader-hosted episode. Though he’s experiencing worldwide recognition on the heels of his expansive, folk-tinged self-titled debut, you’d be forgiven for missing the bus: His rise happened so fast, it shocked even him. “When I have a moment to reflect on the last year, it’s a bit fucking surreal,” he tells Rolling Stone.
It all started in September of 2013, when he released the video for “Take Me to Church,” a dark, bluesy EP track that would also lead his album. The clip, which debuted during the furor over Russia’s anti-gay legislation last fall, depicts a gay couple who are pursued and eventually brutalized by an angry mob. After getting posted to Reddit, he watched as the video’s view count ticked up. “At one point it was getting like 10,000 views an hour or something,” he says. “I remember it quite clearly, just going to bed and kind of freaking out.”
Things have progressed considerably since then, with performances this summer at Newport Folk Festival and Lollapalooza as well as a string of sold-out tour dates. Before his SNL appearance, here are seven other things you should know about Hozier:
You can give him a phone call.
To celebrate his album’s October 7th release, Hozier surprised his fans by posting his cell phone number on Twitter and telling them to call him. “The idea came about because I was going to change my mobile number anyway,” he explains. “So I thought, for the last day before I do that, why don’t I just put my number out online and people can call me and tell me what they thought about the album or just to chat.” The idea was so popular among his 62,500 Twitter followers that his phone literally melted. “It was the text messages that killed it,” he says with a laugh. “The phone was an old flip phone, and it just started seizing up. I turned it on [a few nights later] at 2 a.m. though, and people were still calling through.” The number is still online.
He’s mostly gotten over his stage fright.
“I know there are some people who suffer acutely from stage fright, but I had a horrific time,” he says. “I was 8 years old, singing a song called ‘Pie Jesu,’ which is an old sacred hymn type thing. It was in front of a few hundred people at a community center and my voice cracked, as young boys’ do. And I just froze up and buried my head in my hands with this little midi track playing in the background until an old woman had to come onstage and show me off.”