Byczowski was born in Sopot. For several years he played in Kyst, a post-rock band inspired by alternative folk. At the end of its existence, the band was a trio with two drum sets and a guitar (played by Byczowski), capable of setting off intimate ballads with huge discharges of energy. Before Byczowski joined the band, Kyst was vocalist and guitarist Tobiasz Biliński's solo project; this was when the EP Tar was released. The subsequent albums, recorded in the new, three-person line-up, Cotton Otuch (2010) and Waterworks (2011), featured numerous luminaries of the Polish independent scene, such as Maciej Cieślak, Marcin Ciupidro, Macio Moretti, Karolina Rece, Peve Lety, and Tomasz Ziętek. Today, similarly to Byczowski, Bliński is building an international solo career – using the name Coldair.
Byczowski has also played in Pictorial Candi, the band of Candelaria Saenz Valiente (Marcin Masecki's wife), and Enchanted Hunters, with the groups of Maciej Cieślak, Olivier Heim, or Sean Nicholas Savage. Byczowski played guitar on the latter artist’s album Bermuda Waterfall. He also performed together with the Canadian bands TOPS and Timber Timbre during their concerts.
In the autumn of 2011, Byczowski and the musicians of Indigo Tree (a group which had been recently disbanded at the time), Peve Lety and Michał Kupicz, released the EP Among Shores under the name Someone Who’s Not You. Byczowski, Biliński, and Michał Biela from Kristen have also formed the band Small Things. Having moved to Berlin, Byczowski recorded the single Sentiment in 2015, forerunning the solo album that was to be released under the name Better Person.
In February 2016, the six-song vinyl EP It’s Only Sou was published. Naturally, Byczowski wrote both the music and the lyrics himself and recorded all of the entire material at home. The choruses were sung by Sean Nicholas Savage, with whom Byczowski has played a great number of concerts; they also created an intriguing cover of Chris Isaak’s Can’t Do A Thing (To Stop Me). It’s Only Sou was released by the Berlin label Mansions and Millions. Byczowski emphasised that songwriting is the most important thing for him, and right after comes singing.
The debut album of Better Person comprises songs built around vocals and synthesisers, yet much warmer than in the case of Coldair. Byczowski bases his music on aesthetics strongly resembling the 80s and the cheesy ballads very popular at the time. When he yearningly sings ‘I need somebody / somebody that really cares’ in Somebody Cares, all that is missing is a saxophone taken straight from Lily Was Here by Candy Dulfer or Careless Whisper by George Michael. The dreamy songs of Better Person excellently exploit the tension between distance and honesty. They are quite atypical of the Polish music scene, as nobody before has had the idea to treat the music of the 80s (a time when Germany or Sweden seemed like exotic land to Poles) completely seriously. It is easy to use the means and sounds from that period, but writing such good songs and escaping the trap of sentimentalism, which Better Person managed to do, is much more difficult. How did he achieve this? In one of his interviews, the musician explained:
All the sounds on all the songs on the EP come exclusively from one old Korg keyboard. I didn’t really even modulate the presets. It gave the whole material a consistent sound. Also, I really like the idea of just using one instrument for the whole record. It gave me some limitations that ended up being very inspiring. When it comes to the arrangements and production, I really wanted the songs to have that ‘cheap’ sound of old TV show soundtracks or underground 80s pop records. The other important thing for me was to make the songs sound as European as possible. At the time I felt really tired of the North American pop sound and wanted to escape it and at the same time try to underline the fact that I am from where I am. I believe that there is a specific kind of sensitivity that you can only hear in some of the Central and Eastern European recordings (especially the ones from the 70s and 80s).
The entire interview is available here.
As Better Person the artist has toured the USA and Canada; he's also played in the Netherlands, Germany, and Great Britain. He performed at Eurosonic festival, gave four concerts at Pop Montreal in 2015, and eight at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, in 2016.
2016 – It’s Only You EP
Together with Kyst:
2011 – Waterworks
2010 – Cotton Touch
written by Jacek Świąder, translated by Natalia Sajewicz, August 2016