Interview: Hozier – Embracing The Power Of Protest

Five years ago, HOZIER released the career-defining single ‘Take Me To Church’ – catapulting him high into the charts, whilst securing a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. 

Now after an acclaimed self-titled debut album, the Irish songwriter has just released the EP ‘Nina Cried Power’ – consisting of four songs, including a collaboration with gospel singer Mavis Staples on its title track. This remarkable comeback positions Hozier as not just a talented musician – but one who is socially aware of a bubbling climate.

Hozier also recently announced a massive UK and Ireland tour which he will embark on towards the end of the year. But before he begins travelling, we wanted to catch up with Hozier after listening to his new material.

“Every song inhabits its own little world”

AC: Would you describe ‘Nina Cried Power’ as a protest song?

HOZIER: I would describe ‘Nina Cried Power’ as a song about protest songs, and a thank you note to artists who imbued their music with a spirit of protest.

Of all the artists that are mentioned on the song – who would you say has had the most profound influence on you as a songwriter?

As a songwriter I’m not sure – I would draw a lot from a lot of the artists mentioned there. There is a reason why I chose to centre it around Nina Simone – her voice and the fire with which she wrote with and performed with definitely was super central to me as a young teenager and a kid. I listened to her music a lot.

How did you go about approaching Mavis Staples to contribute to the song?

We had a few near misses of working together at a few different junctures, and as this song was taking shape and making more sense to me it was clear I wanted another voice on it. For me, it was very important to ask for Mavis to be involved and we reached out to her, she said yes and we flew over to Chicago and recorded in CRC.

Where these four songs written as a collective?

The four songs on the record is part of a larger body of work which will be released over the next year. The EP is a nice sample of what’s to come.

It features a range of different sounds – which song would you say most-strongly represents what we can expect from your upcoming album?

I would say Nina Cried Power with the choral aspects, the backing vox aspects and the arrangement of it. Every song inhabits its own little world but that one in particular, and maybe ‘NFWMB’ represent the new work best.

How has being in Los Angeles influenced your work?

I can’t say LA has been the center of my musical influences, there are one or two songs that point to somewhat of a “west coast vibe” – but sometimes when you just spend time there in mostly nice weather for work or recording, just being there in the sun certainly helps you chill out.

HOZIER’S SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

Stream Hozier’s EP ‘Nina Cried Power’ here

PHOTOGRAPHY: EDWARD COOKE

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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What’s On Your Playlist, Johnny Orlando?

JOHNNY ORLANDO is a viral sensation. He has just released a new single titled ‘Last Summer’ – the follow up track to his Universal Music Canada’s debut ‘What If’ with Mackenzie Ziegler. Johnny already five million Instagram followers and over three million YouTube subscribers, a Teen Choice and Kids Choice Award Nomination under this belt, this fifteen year-old is a force to be reckoned with.

JOHNNY ORLANDO’S SPOTIFY PLAYLIST


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Interview: Johnny Orlando – A Viral Singing Sensation

JOHNNY ORLANDO is a viral sensation. He has just released a new single titled ‘Last Summer’ – the follow up track to his Universal Music Canada’s debut ‘What If’ with Mackenzie Ziegler. Johnny already five million Instagram followers and over three million YouTube subscribers, a Teen Choice and Kids Choice Award Nomination under this belt, this fifteen year-old is a force to be reckoned with. 

Universal Music Canada

AC: Tell us about how you first started to gain attention with your music on YouTube. Does that feel like an eternity ago now?

JOHNNY ORLANDO: I first started out by posting covers just for fun and they started getting thousands of views so I kept making them! It’s crazy that it has been almost seven years since then, it honestly feels like it was yesterday.

What was it like collaborating with Mackenzie Ziegler on your recent single ‘What If’? Are there any plans to be working with Mackenzie again soon?

It’s always a great time collaborating with Mackenzie because she’s one of my closest friends. Making ‘What If’ was so much fun throughout the entire process, and we both love the song a lot. We don’t have anything planned right now, I’ve mostly just been working on my EP for the last few months!

How much input do you have in the themes of your music videos? What’s it like shooting them?

It’s definitely a collaborative process, I usually go back and forth with the directors and my team during the brainstorming process just throwing out whatever ideas we have! Shooting a music video is very fun but definitely a lot of work, we usually shoot for about 14 hours!

Do you have any funny stories from the set of the ‘What If’ music video?

It’s actually pretty fun that in the music video it looks like its just a nice summer day in the desert but in reality it was freezing cold and raining. It even started hailing at one point and Kenzie and I were in summer clothes, but you know it was still a good time.

How much can you tell us about your upcoming EP? Are there any surprises in store?

It’s definitely a bit of a new sound for me, and I would say the songs are a bit more mature. I think my fans will definitely be surprised, in a good way though! I’m in love with all of the music I’ve made!

With your massive following on Instagram, do you ever get nervous about posting?

Not really, I honestly kind of forget that I’m posting to millions of people. I just post whatever I think is cool!

Are you splitting your time between Toronto and Los Angeles at the moment?

I’ve been spending most of my time in Toronto working on music, and doing a bit of writing in LA. I’ve also been travelling a lot doing shows which is super fun!

What has it been like touring across Europe recently?

It’s been crazy! I’m still blown away every show by the amount of support in Europe. I never thought I would be able to sell out shows in these cities!

Who has been the most wild crowd to perform to?

I recently did a show in Budapest and the crowd was crazy! Singing every single word to every song. I have to say the hometown love in Toronto is pretty strong as well, it’s always a great show!

If you could warm-up for another artist who would it be?

Probably Shawn Mendes or Justin Bieber. I look up to both of them a lot, it would be an honor!

What are your ambitions as a songwriter in the long run?

I just want to keep making music for as long as possible and hopefully be one of the biggest artists in the world. A big dream of mine is to sell out an arena tour, hopefully in the near future!

QUICK QUESTIONS WITH JOHNNY ORLANDO

What’s the strangest food combination you’ve ever had?

When I was in Monaco I tried prosciutto and melon which I thought was pretty strange but it was actually really good!

Everyone has a cool app idea, what’s yours?

An app that lets you share battery power with someone else, I need that!

What’s on your music playlist at the moment?

Definitely Travis Scott’s new album, I could listen to that all day!

Is there a sport you wish you could play?

I think it would be cool to be a professional soccer player, maybe thats my back up plan [laughs].

Do you have a philosophy?

The rules I go by are just to be hard working, positive and humble. Those three things will get you very far!

What’s the last film you watched?

‘Deadpool’ on my flight over to Switzerland.

If you had one superpower, what would it be?

To teleport so that I can spend less time on planes!

What’s the last photograph you took?

I just finished a meet and greet in Poland actually!

Is there thing in particular that you’re really excited about for the future?

I’m just excited to finally get this music out to the world. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

JOHNNY ORLANDO’S PLAYLIST

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Hottest Record Of The Week: Rival Sons’ ‘Do Your Worst’ (14th Sept 2018)

Nashville/LA quartet, RIVAL SONS have shared ‘Do Your Worst’, the first of their new music to be released as part of the band’s forthcoming LP – expected to arrive early next year under Grammy Award-winning super-producer Dave Cobb’s major label imprint Low Country Sound/Atlantic Records.

Interview: PVRIS – Lynn Gunn On Songwriting & Their New Album

In 2014, PVRIS released their acclaimed debut album ‘White Noise’. Now, after supporting Muse and Thirty Seconds To Mars on their tours and gaining a global following, they’re back with a new album — ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’ and an even bigger tour to follow. From Massachusetts, the band consists of Lynn Gunn, Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald – who originally formed as a metalcore group, but their sound has since been described as ‘post-hardcore’.

AC: You recently posted a photo showing that forty-five songs had been written for this second album, might there be songs in there that we will hear at a later date?

LYNN: Possibly! We are constantly writing so there is always a new flood of work. It really just comes down to what we’re still able to connect with and excited by. It would be fun at some point to just release them all with reckless abandon someday.

You are coming back for a European Tour, ​what keeps bringing you back​?

All the amazing support and experiences we’ve had, our fanbase has been growing pretty rapidly over the past few years. We’d love to continue developing that relationship and connection!

Which countries outside of America would you say are particularly embracing your music?

In particular, the UK has been incredibly supportive and passionate about our band. We got incredibly lucky over there.

Would you say that your sound has changed and developed slightly since your first album? 

We wrote our first album over three years ago, that in itself inspired a natural change and growth. We’ve all grown as musicians, humans and bandmates. Naturally, there has also been a shift in our thoughts, we’ve learned so much and have grown up at a pretty fast rate.

PHOTOGRAPHY: ELIOT LEE HAZEL

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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