Interview

Better Person

I’m a fallen entertainer, says Better Person with a wry twinkle in his eye. He’s topless on video chat, puffing on cigarettes, backlit by afternoon light in his hot Montreal apartment. Better Person is Adam Byczkowski, a Polish artist based out of Berlin who we caught in a period of nomadism as he finishes his record in Canada and prepares for a tour with no final destination. We discuss forbidden aesthetics, intense pangs of nostalgia and rocking white suits in Miami; the twinkle never disappears from his eye.

Interview by Zofia Ciechowska
Photos by Kasia Zacharko, shot in Berlin

 

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Where’s your head at?
I’m working on a record in Montreal this summer at the Arbutus studio. I got kicked out of our apartment in Berlin, so I’m homeless. There’s a lot of touring coming up in the fall, I just have to finish this record, so I thought – whatever – there’s not so much for me in Berlin these days, so I’m just going to be on the road like this. I’m going to be nomadic.

Do you feel like you’re running away or running towards something?
Essentially and ultimately always running away, no matter what. But just in the last few weeks, whether I want it or not, I’m definitely running towards something.

Is being nomadic in your nature?
I thought it wasn’t, but the more I live this kind of life, the better I get at it. I got rid of all my stuff before leaving Berlin. When I started moving around I realized that all my stuff is just a pain in the ass, so I kept on minimizing. I gave my books and records to friends and donated my clothes to refugees. Now I only have a small backpack, a computer, my small keyboard, underwear, and a toothbrush. I have one suit and a t-shirt. I usually wear a suit until I wreck it and then I get a new one at a second-hand store.

I thought it wasn’t, but the more I live this kind of life, the better I get at it

Musically, are you seeing any changes since this new nomadic period?
Yes. I guess most of my music from before as Better Person was based on lacking something, a kind of sadness. But I’m pretty happy right now so the music is changing. I also think that sadness is kind of the cheapest inspiration. When most of my favorite artists were at their peak as songwriters, they were successful and happy.

But sad songs are so beautiful!
I know! I love sad songs! My music is going to be sad anyway, but I guess I was recently thinking about the Bee Gees and Barry Gibb when I said that. He was just living with his family in Miami wearing white suits and hanging out on boats and writing super great songs.

Do you miss anything or anyone even though you’re happier right now?
That is my big problem. I feel like I constantly miss everyone and everything all the time. It’s just this nostalgic crazy thing that I have. Recently in Montreal I’ve been very happy, but generally when I’m in one place or with one person I miss another. I get insane attacks of nostalgia over even the smallest things in the world, which also has a big impact on my writing. Sometimes I’ll be at a party and I feel this attack coming as I’m talking to someone. I just jump on my bike and and speed home to write in this moment of feeling very fragile and moved.

I feel like I constantly miss everyone and everything all the time

What makes you laugh and what makes you cry?
I’m a big crybaby. The last time I cried was when I was moving out of the apartment in Berlin, I was so bummed. I also cried on the balcony two days ago because I was so happy. Apparently crying out of happiness is because you know it’s not going to last forever.

I laugh a lot. I really value a good sense of humor, it’s just as exceptional as a good musician or writer. My sense of humor is pretty Polish, which is also a bit of a forbidden fruit. It doesn’t work well in translation in Canada where everyone is super PC, which is also really good, ‘cause it’s about time. My Polish humor makes me laugh at dumb bold statements. Generally, anything that feels a little bit too much I’m very interested in. Like wearing big white suits in Miami. I would definitely do that if I lived in Miami and I would rock mine as hard as I possibly could.

Better Person is playing  De Koer, Ghent, 11 Oct. The show is free for members and their +1. Join here.