Twenty-fifteen, it’s fair to say, was pretty monumental for Hozier.
The Irish songsmith was catapulted to stardom after his single Take Me To Church became an international hit, earning him army of worshippers and a Grammy nomination to boot.
The soul and contemporary blues-folk singer’s September-released debut album has sold more than 1.5 million copies to date, and has him marked as a frontrunner at this year’s Grammys, where he’s up for both Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
Not bad going for someone who describes himself as a “very, very obscure artist”, and someone who never imagined he’d even get radio airplay, let alone become a household name in the space of a few months.
“My life has changed fundamentally,” says the 25-year-old from Bray, County Wicklow. “I’ve been very fortunate that it’s taken off.”
Hozier, who starts 2016 with a massive European tour that brings him to the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on Friday (Jan 8), stunned fans when he said he’d be taking a break when he wraps up his tour in March – but he insists he won’t be off the radar for long.
The singer has already started work on his second album, and he says he’d like to explore a different sound on his sophomore effort.
“It’s a little bit daunting because [the first album] was a commercial success that I did not expect,” he says. “No matter what decisions I make, some of the audience of this album might follow on with me and some won’t.
“I think all I can do is trust my instincts as I did the first time around and just be true to myself.
“I’ve been working on it quite a bit. I find that when you are on tour you live in the pockets of fifteen other people and things begin and end with ideas. I’m very, very excited to work on the next album and the longer I spend on tour the more hungry I am to do it.”
While Hozier has said he’s keen to experiment, he adds that his new material won’t be a massive departure from what fans are used to.
“I’ve a lot of big influences that I’d like to explore and types of music that I’d like to make that maybe don’t fit for a Hozier album,” he says. “I know myself where the line is with what to explore and what not to explore for the purposes of the follow-up album.”
“That’s not to say I won’t explore other things.”
Hozier, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Friday, 8 January, doors 7pm, £24-£32 (returns only), 0131-228 1155
Words: Gary Flockhart