5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Take Me to Church' Singer Hozier

Taylor Swift "is an awesome person," the Irishman says

Photo: Alex Lake

Unless you’ve been living off the grid recently, chances are you’ve heard Hozier’s hit song, “Take Me to Church.” A lot.

The catchy hit single is on heavy rotation on the radio, currently at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and was nominated this year for a Grammy for song of the year. (It lost out to Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”.)

The song’s video, which shows a young gay couple being persecuted, has been viewed on YouTube more than 110 million times.

But who exactly is Hozier, the charming 24-year-old Irishman behind the song? PEOPLE chatted with the songwriter to learn as much as we could about him – and about his popular tune.

1. You’re saying his name wrong.
He was born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, but goes by the simpler Hozier. But it’s pronounced “Hoze-ee-air,” instead of rhyming with “closure.”

“It was anglicized from French,” Hozier says. But he doesn’t care that you’re saying it wrong. “It’s really not all that different from the way it’s being pronounced.”

2. His dad is a blues drummer.
“I listened to his records growing up,” Hozier says of his childhood spent in the Irish countryside. “A lot of Chicago blues, folk music, soul and jazz. I had a fascination with the roots of African American music. That would have been my first education in music. I had a real passion for it. I wanted to play it, sing it. I could sing at a young age, but I started to teach myself bass guitar and started writing when I was 15.”

3. ‘Take Me to Church’ is about sex.
“It’s about human sexuality,” he says. “I grew up in a society where a lot of values were inherited from the Catholic church, and its doctrine teaches people to be ashamed of those aspects about themselves. But lovemaking is a very human, wonderful thing to do.”

4. He ALMOST became a pop star.
“Someone had an eye on me as I was leaving high school,” he says of his early years. “I had a chance to record demos, but they were kind of wanting to make a pop singer out of me, of the X Factor variety. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I wanted to be a songwriter.”

5. He’s been rumored to be romantically linked to Taylor Swift.
But don’t believe the rumors! However, the single singer is friendly with Swift, as well as with Ed Sheeran.

“After the Grammys, I got to spend some time with Ed Sheeran, have a few beers with him and catch up,” he says.

As for Taylor? “The rumor mill is new to me, but it’s a bit silly to create rumors based on a photograph of two people meeting and hanging at an event together,” he says. “But Taylor was always incredibly supportive, Tweeting about the music from early on. She is just an awesome person.”

For more on Hozier, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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