Mike Cykoski, the man behind the arty, literate indie-pop project A Is for Atom, has had a distinguished career in the music business so far, but a few transformative events drastically altered his path. Now, he welcomes a new era of creativity with a bold new electronic recorded and live performance aesthetic.
“It feels like this is the beginning for me,” affirms the New York City-based artist. “I have so much freedom creatively. I can write different types of songs, and release them on my own terms.”
Mike Cykoski has always been a fearless composer, drawing inspiration from time honored pop-rock song craft, literature, classical and avant-garde music to create a signature aesthetic that’s moving, adventurous and accessible. He studied formally at NYU, earning a master’s degree in Music Technology, as well as Juilliard, and the experimental music center Harvest Works and DJ music school Dubspot. His most recent EP, Song for You, garnered him prime visibility in the press and onstage. Mike has performed nationally and internationally, live highlights include shows in Ireland, Mexico City, Toronto, for NXNE and Canadian Music Week, and shows in New York City and Austin.
As a composer, Mike has always been intrepid about his creativity. His new material embraces technology into his repertoire like never before. Here he uses drum machines to conjure the rugged grooves in EDM and hip-hop’s beloved 808 beats. He crafts his compositions with bold synthetic soundscapes using a DJ’s artistic arsenal bring to life his compositions.
The moniker Mike chose for his music, A Is for Atom, is pliable aesthetically and conceptually to this fresh creative chapter. The name was pinched from a 1953 animated promotional short for General Electric. “There are a few layers to the name. For one, it references the 1950s documentary and its message of technology improving our lives. Secondly, it conjures the symbolism of atomic culture as doomsday. Three, it conveys a feeling of profound progression—change at the atomic level—that’s perfect for how I’ve moved onto a different creative model and release paradigm,” Mike explains.
Mike’s epiphany came when his friend, a live soundman, invited him to check out some electronic acts. “These artists had guitars, computers, and their voice, and, witnessing that opened so many creative doors. It made me feel like I could finally produce what I heard in my head,” he says. “Sitting down with the recording program Ableton, it felt like being a sculptor looking at a marble chunk and seeing all the possibilities.”
Mike is currently writing a collection of new music and releasing a new EP in collaboration with up-and-coming producer Carey Clayton (Emily Thomas, Ian Abel, Mary Akpa, Stephanie Rivers--Guitar Player-Great Good Fine Ok and David Wax Museum). Mike is experimenting with poppy dance ideas, electronic compositions inspired by classic rock, and he’s even trying out an electronic crooner track. Mike’s first singles will be available through the standard digital service outlets in June and July and released as a new EP in September. “It’s a better way to release music, for me. I can create freely without having to come up with a similar sounding body of work,” he says.
Mike’s first single will be “No Signal” a song with a driving and hypnotic beat and ferocious vocal duet featuring (Mike and) New York City singer Clara Lofaro about the disconnect between intention and emotion in our modern world. The next single “Rainbows” has an expressive electronic beat with an alluring baritone vocal performance featuring a multi-textured bridge and chorus. The song weaves in and out of fast and slow beats and delves into a call for freedom of emotional expression that waits at the end of a figurative rainbow.
Thinking ahead, Mike says: “Initially, I was a little scared to take a chance and follow this fresh direction. As I began moving forward and learned a new model, so much became possible and I’m so excited.” He pauses pensively before saying conclusively.