WHEN Dom Borzestowski performs songs from Tigersapp he knows it’ll feel like his late older brother Szymon is right beside him.
Musically he will be. Dom, his brother Kubush, sister Eva, brother-in-law Josh Irwin and friends Luke O’Dea and Andrew Burgess are coming together at Lizotte’s on July 14 to perform Szymon’s critically-acclaimed music for the first time publicly. A performance at Splendour In The Grass on July 23 will follow.
Newcastle’s Szymon Borzestowski took his own life in December 2012 after a battle with mental illness. It tragically cut short the life of a musical genius at 23 and left a family mourning a beloved brother and son.
Last year Szymon’s debut album Tigersapp was finally released, seven years after he recorded it alone in his Kotara South bedroom using rudimentary computer equipment. The lush mix of electronic folk-driven pop was met with critical acclaim. Rolling Stone gave Tigersapp a five-star rating, while Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus wrote in the Saturday Paper that “people will be listening to Tigersapp for decades to come.”
Szymon also received a posthumous nomination in the Best Adult Contemporary Album category at last year’s ARIA awards and last month Tigersapp’s opening track Golden reached one million plays on Spotify. The demand is certainly there to bring Szymon’s music to life on stage.
Preparations began in May to reproduce live the multi-layered guitar, keyboard and vocal parts Szymon created. Rehearsals were placed on hold for five weeks while Dom was away playing drums with his Sydney band Gang Of Youths on their 10-date tour of Europe and the US. Following Dom’s return last week, rehearsals will recommence in earnest on Monday.
Szymon’s vocal track will be used throughout to ensure he remains a part of the performance. “That’s how we actually wanted to do it,” Dom tells Weekender. “We wanted to have his voice coming through no matter what. So he’s still a part of it, I guess.”
Szymon never performed his music publicly, except two songs at a Polish cultural event. Understandably it will be an emotional occasion for the entire Borzestowki family to finally re-create Szymon’s treasured art in front of an audience. One marked with sadness and pride.
“Obviously it’s a little bittersweet,” Dom says. “We’d love him to be able to experience this and for him to do it and for us to do it with him. Obviously we’re very grateful for the opportunity that Splendour have given us and Lizotte’s too, to be able to replicate it. For me personally, I’ve always wanted to play with Szym and my brother Kubush and sister. That was one of my dreams I had as a kid growing up and playing music with them. In one way this will be a pretty cool fulfillment of that dream I’ve had for a long time. It’s pretty special for me and mum and dad and all of us. They’re stoked to see it come to life in another way and be able to see it shared in another kind of medium.”
Dom describes the process of learning the songs on Tigersapp as “ridiculously hard.” The record’s trademark multi-layering has forced Dom and his siblings to spend hours deconstructing the tracks. “With the different vocal parts and instruments, it really gives you a deeper appreciation of his genius and creativity,” Dom says.
That genius and creativity hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Lizotte’s show sold out a week ago. Given the demand, Dom says his family would consider playing more shows next year.
”Maybe I’m biased in that I did expect his music to do well,” Dom says. “I always believed in my brother and his work. To get that kind of reception, especially when he’s not here as well and for it to be recognised, is very special for us. We know Szym would be stoked with it too.”