Making music that transports you to the afterglow of nights out in the city, Adam Byczkowski, aka Better Person, has produced a sultry album full of hypnotic tracks in Something To Lose, quite the antidote to everything happening around us right now. New single Dotknij Mnie (translating into English as Touch Me) adds a cathartic wave to the lighter feel of some of the other songs, showing his ability to deftly capture different moods and styles. We wanted to find out more about the influences of other music, people and places and how deeply a brush with Covid is still having an impact…
Hello, can you give us a quick intro to you and your music?
Yes of course, good morning. My name is Adam, also known to some people as Better Person. I write music, record it, release it and then travel to perform it live whenever possible. The music I make sounds like pop ballads and most of the time it talks about my personal feelings and experiences.
What can you see from wherever you are right now?
I’m laying in bed in my apartment in Berlin. I can see a white wall and an open window. There are buildings and trees outside, the sky is blue. There’s this crispy early fall smell in the air that makes me think of too many things all at once.
AND hello again, I came back to this interview to edit it a bit and now it’s night time already. I’m also in bed again but now it’s dark and my girlfriend is next to me, sleeping. It’s quiet.
Your last single Close to You reminds me of UK 80s’ artists like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile, who or what’s influencing the music you’ve been making recently?
Thank you, I like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile!
Artists from that era and genre were a huge inspiration for me, especially when I started this project, as Better Person. For this record I was actually inspired by a whole range of different music, from old French and Italian movie soundtracks through Euro-pop hits and 70’s soft rock all the way to old school balladeers like Julio Iglesias. I think that because I use synthesisers and drum machines to make my music it often ends up being heard through the narrow lens of the 1980s. Ultimately though, I hope that my music sounds like it’s made in 2020 more than any other time.
Tell us about your upcoming album Something to Lose, what can everyone expect?
It’s nine songs, exactly thirty minutes of music. It comes out on October 23rd 2020. The whole album is a bit lighter in mood than my last EP and maybe it’s also my best work yet? I hope that it is! And that people can feel moved by it and use it for having a nice time in this shitty time that we all live in. Heartfelt ballads sung by a Polish man who fell deeply in love. I worked hard on this album and I think that I’ve managed to make something real.
If you could put the album in any one person’s hands to listen to, who would you choose and why?
When I write music I keep my friends and people close to me in my mind. This time I wrote an album specifically for my partner, Jane. She’s the person I made it for so it’s in her hands that the album belongs. She already was forced to listen to it about seven thousand times at different stages and claims to love it every time. So, mission complete!
What was the last book you read?
I re-read some of Raymond Carver short stories the other day, always a pleasure.
You contracted Covid back in March, that must have been pretty scary – how was it then and how are you now?
Yes that is true. Back in March both my partner and I got the virus. It has been a real ride, we ended up having to go to hospitals frequently and we haven’t managed to recover to this day. It’s been six months since I got infected and I still spend most of my days stuck in bed, crippled by extreme fatigue, heart problems and difficulty breathing. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and it’s extremely punishing both physically and mentally.
How has the experience changed your outlook?
It’s made me really appreciate what a gift it is to feel healthy and be able to function normally. People that don’t believe in the virus or won’t wear their masks on (nose out = no mask) truly are idiots. There are online group forums for people who are still recovering and they have been the only valuable source of information and reassurance. I expect this to be a huge thing in the next couple months, more and more people simply not recovering from the sickness. I have no idea what the future holds and I can only hope that I get better in the next couple of months.
You’ve spent time in both Berlin and LA – those two cities seem so contrasting, what are the best things about each one for you?
Berlin is a place where I really came into my own, Better Person wouldn’t exist without it and I love the city for that. Los Angeles provides all the things that Berlin is lacking: great weather, amazing food, breathtaking views and a seemingly endless amount of inspiration and new connections to be made. It makes me devastated knowing that it will be a long time before I’m back again.
Looking forward, what are you hoping for over the next year?
I’m really only hoping to get better and be able to live normally again. After that I’d love to play lots of shows and make new music.
Something To Lose is released on Friday 23rd October via Arbutus Records – pre-order here
Interview by Siobhan
Photos: header image © Geoff Meugens, image on steps © Tess Roby
Date 19th October 2020