BUSLAV: the art of forgetting
He spent a decade playing with the most interesting bands on the Polish music scene. Now, he’s on his own. His debut album was nominated to the Fryderyk award in two categories. Meet BUSLAV – the guest of the Opening Gala who will open OFF STAGE!
BUSLAV: the art of forgetting

Angelika Pitoń: Three words describe Buslav on the Internet: windcatcher, dreamchaser, truthseeker. Are freedom and authenticity so appealing to you?

Tomasz Bukalski: I once wanted to describe myself. I was looking for words which will show the energy I have in me, the constant need to create and do more. Musicians don’t stop playing and artists can’t stop writing just like that. Otherwise the music in them dies. I’m constantly on the road. I’m chasing dreams, but in a wise way. If you focus too much on achieving the goal, you always lose something. You forget the road itself is fascinating and that something unexpected might happen to you. Until the music lives on in me – I will seek this truth. And catch the wind.

So was choosing vocals and recording your first solo album [Buslav recorded other albums with musicians already before] a consequence of that kind of journey? An adventure that happened to you?

As a child I dreamed of playing on the saxophone – and I made it happen. Later, I wanted to perform onstage with the coolest musicians in Poland. Suddenly, it came to my mind it was actually happening. So I asked myself the question: what now? On the one hand, I could fulfil myself where I am now and that would be great. Still, it’s very dangerous. It’s easy to get stuck in one place knowing that nothing bad will happen. I’m not the kind of person who reaches a destination and feeds of that. Because, if we know nothing bad will happen, nothing AT ALL will happen. The realization that nothing awaits us is the worst thing that can happen to us. Life escapes. And I hate that feeling.

And singing? It wasn’t planned. I started writing songs and it turned out that they are vocal, that they have lyrics and tell a story. The funniest part was that they were far away from what I thought I would be playing in the future. Still, it took place so naturally that it must be me (laughter). In the beginning, I thought that I will only write the lyrics. But the words were too intimate and I don’t know, if there would be someone who could sing them the way I feel. So I started rehearsing – at home, with the microphone, at school, in the studio. It turned out I could do it. I learned a real lesson back then – that you can really do things you can’t even imagine. People tend to impose frames and borders on themselves. But what if it’s not that way? Until we don’t find out for ourselves, we can’t tell if we have talent. Crossing borders is fascinating. That’s when life starts – it’s risky and on the edge.

                  fot. Dominika Jaruga

Jazz, gospel, reggae rhythms, balacing on the border of hip-hop – you weren’t afraid to experiment in your career. Now, your voice seems to be your leading instrument.

I’m a real instrumentalist and I love doing it. Still, I know that the voice speaks best to people, which I personally mourn because instrumental music is often left aside in the mainstream. We love listening to words and love being spoken to. I started singing and now voice has become the priority. When you enter the stage and start singing you see that you the responsibility lies on you as a vocalist. You create the atmosphere. You’re not part of the machine any more. That’s a great feeling.

For a decade you collaborated with totally different artists. You were ‘hiding’ behind instruments. Now, you decided to records your solo album. Kind of a debut, but not entirely. How do you feel? As a debutant?

When you premiere your own project, it’s always a debut. Before, I could work in various places and settings. But what you do alone is truly yours. I have to walk the road which I know anew. I need to fight for myself, my recognition and the people. It’ time to hit the road and shout: ‘It’s me, Tomasz Bukalski!’.

        fot. Dominika Jaruga

In your songs one can hear a lot of space, a gust of wind. ‘Buslav’ – for me at least – is an example of a confession, an intimate conversation, a deep breath. The album is ethereal, surprising and simultaneously shows your deep fascination and awe of the world.

There is a theory I’m very fond of: to do your thing you need to learn patiently, follow other artists and then – forget everything you’ve learned. Try to speak with your own language. I let that what has built me express itself. I don’t know what is the main trend on my album – jazz, classical, Iceland or funk. Each song is a memory of a moment, a result of conversation, travels, encounters. You think that people share a similar way of thinking everywhere. And then you meet another culture and it turns out quite the opposite. Art gives you great freedom of expression, under the condition that you are not afraid and you do not judge. Because it’s yours. If you are only transparent as an artist and a human being, your art will always be received. I try to have a critical look, not to judge, but say – and leave the final grade to the audience.

Ten young directors whose first or second films are shown in our Main Competition are fighting for the title of pathfinders. Your performance opened the jubilee NETIA OFF CAMERA gala. You yourself were nominated twice to the Fryderyk awards which set the trends in the Polish musical world. How does it feel?

It’s a great gift, a signal that people see what you’ve done. A nomination is a huge award. And the very statue? It depends, what your aim is. If you just want to create art, regardless of awards, statues, then you’ll keep on creating. If you desire success – the next statur eis the end of the road. The award only confirms you’re in the right place. I’ve put a lot of effort, energy and emotion for my records to see daylight. And I’m very pleased it gained recognition. I gives a sense of fulfilment and additional motivation to go further. And that’s great!

You talk a lot about art. How do you perceive it?

Art for me is something linked directly to how people are connected. We live in contexts, speak of them and describe them in different ways. When language doesn’t suffice, art enters. We’re people, not robots. That’s why it wakes emotions inside of us. Sound ans scent can be art. As long as it’s honest, worked through and finds an audience – it’s art. It’s a way for souls to communicate: non-verbal, emotionally-spiritual.

I wish you that kind of communication with your audience. Thank you!

See you at the OFF STAGE!

Interviewer: Angelika Pitoń