Irish musician Hozier, whose third studio album "Unreal Unearth" is available from today, August 18, says that he is walking on a path "paved" by the late Sinéad O'Connor. 

The Irish singer-songwriter discussed the legacy of O'Connor's famous Saturday Night Live protest where she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II during a new interview with BBC Newsnight.

Hozier was asked during the interview why he believes O'Connor was treated so differently for her 1992 protest when compared to his 2013 breakout single "Take Me to Church, which is now the 30th most streamed song of all time.

"I think sensibilities have changed," Hozier said.

"I think I'm definitely an artist that's thriving and walking on this road that she's [O'Connor's] paved.

"I think part of it is because Sinéad was a woman. I think a lot of it is she was one of the first who had that courage to stand up and say it.

"That was such a taboo at the time."

Today Hozier released his new album Unreal Unearth

Ahead of the launch he spoke to @vicderbyshire about its inspiration, artificial intelligence, LGBTQ+ rights, and the late singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor

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— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 18, 2023

Earlier in the interview, Hozier said his Grammy-nominated song "Take Me to Church" - the video for which features a gay couple facing a homophobic mob - criticized the Catholic Church's teaching of "shame about sexual orientation"

The Co Wicklow native said: "I think in some ways, and I'm not delighted about this, but I think in some ways it is a more applicable and the song's mission statement or its message is more applicable now than it was ten years ago.

"We didn't have LGBTQ+ free zones in the European Union ten years ago.

"We didn't have armed militia waiting outside of gay and queer spaces with this sort of terrible threat hanging over.

"That is not something that was happening in our part of the world ten years ago."

Elsewhere in the interview, Hozier indicated that he would support a strike over the threat that artificial intelligence (AI) poses to the music industry

Artificial intelligence has been used to clone the voices of popular artists, with a song using the cloned voices of Drake and The Weeknd removed from streaming services in April over concerns that it violated copyright law. 

Meanwhile, the ongoing Hollywood actors and writers' strikes have partially been caused by a row over protection from the use of AI. 

Hozier said he would support a similar strike by the music industry. 

Presenter Victoria Derbyshire asked the Irish musician if he could imagine joining such a strike, to which Hozier replied, "Joining in solidarity if there was… action on that? Absolutely." 

Hozier said he was not sure whether AI "meets the definition of art" because it is unable to "create something based on the human experience."

He said the question of whether AI was art or not almost qualified as a "philosophical debate."