It's been a whirlwind couple of years for Wicklow-born musician Hozier, whose song Take Me To Church turned him from an unknown singer-songwriter into Ireland's most successful musical export of the last decade.
The song's video, a gritty black-and-white tale of homophobic violence, was shot back in 2013 with a budget of less than €2,000 and a turnaround time of just a few days. It's since been viewed an incredible 235 million times on YouTube and was even played at this year's Grammys, where Take Me To Church was nominated for Song of the Year.
Now, the two Cork filmmakers behind the video could be set to have their work recognised on yet another international stage, with the news that their video has picked up two nominations at this year's MTV Video Music Awards. Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson were left stunned today to hear they'd been nominated for both Best Rock Video and Best Direction at the VMAs, which take place on August 30th in Los Angeles.
"It's the nicest thing, it really is lovely to hear," Brendan told SHEmazing! today from his home in Ballincollig, Cork.
Although Take Me To Church has been nominated for countless awards since its release in 2013, including a Billboard nomination this year for Best Rock Song, and the aforementioned Grammy nod, this is one of the first times that the video itself has been recognised by a judging panel.
"It's a bit odd," Brendan admits. "We haven't really even been up for small accolades or awards and now we're being nominated for two VMAs." Although things may have been quiet on the awards front, Brendan and Conal's filmmaking careers have come a long way since the video was shot almost two years ago.
The pair, both CIT graduates, now work with other Irish artists like Gavin James, MMOTHS and Young Wonder, though they'd never rule out working with Hozier again. "He's an absolutely lovely guy," Brendan says. "Seeing him in interviews now, he is still exactly as he was two years ago."
The lads' involvement with the video might never have come about, if it wasn't for a tweet posted by Brendan after he heard the song for the first time. Hozier was already signed to independent label Rubyworks at that stage, and after a few exchanges over Twitter and via email, a deal was made and a video shot in and around rural Cork.
When did Brendan realise the video – in which Hozier himself even makes a cameo appearance as a masked thug – was a viral success? Almost instantly, he says. "The night it was uploaded, Andrew [Hozier-Byrne] messaged me and said it was getting a huge reaction on Reddit. There were hundreds and hundreds of positive comments, which was unusual because Reddit users aren't always so kind."
Within 24 hours, the video racked up 100,000 views, and that number has been growing ever since. "Suddenly the song was everywhere," says Brendan of the unexpected success. "It never stopped going viral. It's mad. We were always waiting for that point where the hype would die off but it just didn't happen."
As for the upcoming awards ceremony in Los Angeles, the lads are understandably keen to head along. "I was straight onto the record company asking, 'Can we go?,'" Brendan jokes. "The VMAs are very celebrity-focused, which is why it's really great to be recognised in the Best Direction category, it feels a bit more meaningful."
We'll be watching out for the Cork flags in the crowd on August 30th…