AisforAtom
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AisforAtom

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Alternative Rock

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"REVIEW: A IS FOR ATOM, “SONG FOR YOU”"

“What’s most pleasing to me about Song For You is the incredibly unique vocal tone and song structures that have developed on this record. The material here is reminiscent of the rebellious nature of grunge meets modern polished pop.”
Artist: A is for Atom
EP: Song For You
Genre: Rock
RIYL: The National, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elvis Costello
A is for Atom Song For You
A is for Atom is the onstage moniker of Brooklyn’s Mike Cykoski, an indie pop-rock artist releasing the EP Song For You. This record is an exploration of post-breakup heartache. Well, wrapped up in a more overriding futuristic take on heartache in an upbeat package.
Song For You boasts some interesting structural and lyrical choices. Cykoski refers to composition, particularly those of a classical or film score variety, in his bio. And that’s definitely reflected here on the five songs included in this EP. This material is thoughtful, even best described as cerebral, at times where it could occasionally use a little more abandon. These tracks feel highly refined, and perhaps that’s what I’m reacting to. The simplicity and clever arrangement of chorus to verse, interjected with surprising shots of piercing guitars almost feels too polished, even if the impetus for the material itself is more visceral.
That said, however, “Load Up On Guns” is a great introductory track, it hits with an assertiveness that feels immediately accessible and maintains its uniqueness in tone. Think about The National meets Neutral Milk Hotel and you have A is for Atom. “A Song For You” was born from a comment from a now ex-girlfriend who claimed “you never wrote a song for me.” And with that, the thematic breakup EP manifested into this record. “The White Dress” is my favorite track here, however, for multiple reasons. This one diverges a bit from the others and explores a fuller, more dramatic playfulness with the addition of piano, horns and harmonies that break this wide open. It’s a fully realized track that shows off that interest in composition in an impressively cohesive way.
What’s most pleasing to me about Song For You is the incredibly unique vocal tone and song structures that have developed on this record. The material here is reminiscent of the rebellious nature of grunge meets modern polished pop. Truly modern pop, none of that lyrically devoid party pop so prevalent on mainstream radio. A is for Atom makes thoughtful, progressive compositions that are full of musical potential. While I’m not sure where Cykoski is headed next musically, I’m certainly interested in finding out. - Indie-Music.com


""Song for You" on Bored 4's The Guerrilla Nights Project: Spotlight Saturday."

Load up your ears and check out the new EP from A is for Atom. ‘Song for You’ is collection of stories wrapped in raw, pop, lyrics & melodies with that definite NYC state of mind. You get hints of Yorke, Berninger, and DeGraw from the man behind the Atom — Mike Cykoski. Each track feels like a short story about a distinct character with the music being the lens in which they live. Trust me, you’ll see something if you close your eyes & listen.

Read how the Atom was made over on their Facebook, but I absolutely loved this snippet of description about the record: “The A is for Atom EP is threaded with the concept of the loneliness and the futility of the existentialist’s quest. Packed within this overarching theme Mike alludes to a film noir-like sense of big-city alienation, Emily Dickinson, Joseph Campbell, the Meat Puppets and Kurt Cobain, and the artful logic of classical compositions like Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” The EP shifts conceptual perspectives on this theme and favor distinct musical dynamics to mirror each piece’s central mood.” - The Guerrilla Nights Project


"The Vinyl District First Date with A is for Atom"

“The first vinyl record I ever listened to non-stop was the soundtrack to Star Wars.“

“I was 7 and I have listened to it probably more than I’ve seen the movie. I know where all of the musical phrases fit into the film—I think that I can even run the soundtrack in my head to this day (it really helped me in film scoring school!) I listened to a lot of my dad’s vinyl records and he had a very nice turntable. He really only had classical music. Since my parents were divorced at this point, I would go over to my mom’s place and she would play a lot of folk and country music.

When I was around 13, I started listening to heavy metal (since all my friends were) and the album that changed my life at that point was from Metallica. I had been listening to Quiet Riot, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. My friends told me about this local band Metallica, so I ran out to the record store in Huntington Beach and bought Kill ‘em All. I played the first track on side 2 (for some reason) “Whiplash”—it was the fastest thing I ever heard up until that point and the guitars sounded like galloping jet engines. Very exciting!

When I was 14 I started playing the bass guitar—and my love for heavy metal began to wane—I never liked to play those bass lines. When I went to Austin that summer, my Aunt had a copy of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper. I listened to it non-stop and learned all of the songs and they are still really some of the best bass lines to play. I was very taken with “Lucy in the Sky…” Still one of my favorite bass lines of all time. I still have a copy of it on vinyl, and I just bought a new record player and I’m going to listen to it again now!

Around 15 or so, I started to actually get good at playing bass and was playing in bands (by then I had moved to Springfield, VA). I heard Led Zeppelin II at my friend’s house, and my life changed again! I bought a copy and started learning everything. My favorite song to play is “The Lemon Song,” just amazing bass work by JPJ. I learned how to play every line on that album, it took a while and I certainly scratched up the record a lot!”
—Mike Cykoski - The Vinyl District


"A IS FOR ATOM RELEASES THE STUNNING “SONG FOR YOU”"

A is for Atom is the brainchild of Mike Cykoski. Recently releasing his latest EP, Song for You, the Brooklyn transplant creates a phenomenal record that will catch your attention immediately. For those who are fans of bands such as The National and The Flaming Lips, A is for Atom creates a sound that is truly unique and certainly pleases the ears.

Cykoski is strongly inspired by songcraft and the art of composing. He enrolled in the prestigious NYU music technology master’s degree program, later taking courses at the world renowned Julliard, and expanding his horizons by completing certificates for Harvest Works and Dubspot, further exploring his interest in electronic music.

It was there at NYU that Mike met his producer Julian Cassia in a film scoring class. Julian was quite taken with Cykoski’s compositions and had a great appreciation for his writing style as well as his international aesthetic perspective. Described as having “tastefully ethnic flourishes and, at times, some sturdy Brit-pop hooks,” the project began when Mike finished his master’s thesis and landed a steady job, making him both optimistic and introspective.

On his recent release, Song For You, he provides an outward expression, with songs that prove to be lively and upbeat.

A standout piece from the EP is the title track, “Song for You,” which Cykoski refers to as a ‘break up theme,’ stemming from his divorce. His haunting vocals swirl throughout the track which resonates throughout. His talent for combining emotional driven lyrics with stunning composition, shines through with “Song for You,” as well as every track on the EP. Check out the single below! - Modern Mystery


"A is for Atom - "Song for You""

After an exploratory journey involving sideman gigs, relocations, and music school, New York transplant Mike Cykoski has shaken off his past and found his future, resurfacing in Brooklyn with a two-EP solo bow of literate, conceptual, thoughtful and playfully-orchestrated modern rock. Ironically Mike’s decision to leave the hired-gun musician hustle came when he netted an audition with pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw.

Mike Cykoski (A is for Atom) has been compared to The National and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, but finds no musician more influential than his friend for many years, and the artist who inspired him to become a musician, Gavin DeGraw.

Mike’s knack for melding emotionally direct lyrics with refined, nuanced compositions stems from the dual influences of his parents—his mother was an Irish folk singer and his father a film-score buff. In music school, as an undergrad and a grad student, he was able to study and readily identify the qualities of film scoring that he was initially attracted to, like the classical structure of these evocative pieces of music.

“I listen to classical music, how operas are written like stories, and my lyric structures appropriate this compositional style where the chorus is an aria and the verse is a recitative,” he explains. - Generally Amused Blog


"A IS FOR ATOM on Tom Lohrmann Blog"

A Is For Atom is a melodic alternative band based in Brooklyn, New York, founded by Mike Cykoski in 2012. A Is For Atom has released two albums, most recently “Song For You” and a self-titled EP previously. After an exploratory journey involving sideman gigs, geographic relocations, and music school, Mike has resurfaced with two EPs of literate, conceptual, thoughtful and playful, orchestrated modern folk-rock. Enjoy our interview with Mike below!

What life experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of your latest release “Song For You”?
“The songs on the album were inspired by living in New York City (I’ve been here 13 years now) along with the end of my marriage. The album represents a bookend to a period of my life. I was going through a lot of anger: we broke up and shortly after I was assaulted/mugged in Brooklyn. I felt like I had hit bottom in a lot of ways. The songs have a lot of violent themes, (including) bombs and guns, but there are definitely themes about my ex in there. She had said that I never wrote a song for her, so I used that. We had often read a lot of Emily Dickinson, and my ex’s favorite poem was called “Presentiment”. I reference that poem in the song ‘The White Dress’. The Emily in that song is Emily Dickinson, so that song is very emotional.”

How has the Brooklyn, New York area influenced you, both personally and musically?
“I’ve always loved this city. I used to play here with Zuba before I lived here. We also recorded the final Zuba album in New Jersey and stayed in Harlem. When I moved here, I was trying to get into the music scene, similarly to when I moved to Boulder, but it was much harder for me here. I played in a few bands but was unhappy. I decided to go to music school after I tried out for Gavin DeGraw; I didn’t get the gig, but we hung out after at a bar and played pool. He was really together, and it inspired me to get a solo project going. It took a while, but I finally released the albums!”

You’ve performed at Bowery Electric, Arlene’s Grocery, and The Bitter End within the past year. What are a few of your favorite venues in New York?
“I love those venues. I also really like Rockwood Music Hall, where I spend a lot of time. Sometimes I head out to the Rock Shop in my neighborhood as well.”

Who are your biggest musical influences? How are they interpreted or showcased in your original compositions?
“My biggest influences are probably Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, Scott Walker, The Band, Bob Dylan, The Meters, and Neutral Milk Hotel.”

How is “Song For You” different from “A Is For Atom”?
“They were recorded at the same time, but I think that the songs on “Song For You” get into more intense emotional themes. The first EP dealt with coming to terms with life rather than the emotions of breakups, etc.”

What has it been like working on your albums with Julian Cassia?
“Julian is an amazing producer: he has a Brit-Pop sensibility mixed with Middle East influences (he’s from Lebanon and grew up between London and Paris). Interestingly, when we recorded the album, the recording engineer was Persian American, and Julian’s girlfriend at the time was Israeli; I think that there is a subtle Middle Eastern vibe that was brought into the arrangements.”

What can you tell us about your time at NYU, where you pursued a master’s degree in music technology?
“It was a wonderful experience. I worked with Deniz Hughes, Morton Subonick, Joel Chadabe, Robert Rowe, and Ira Newborn, to name a few. I did a lot of film music composition as well as music engineering. I took a songwriting class with Ira Newborn (where I met Julian) and decided that I really loved songwriting more than film scoring. I did write a few film scores and really enjoyed that, one of which was performed at the Lincoln Center for an NYU-sponsored score competition. That was one of the highlights of my education.”

What was your experience like working with 12 South Music on your website?
“12 South is great. I’m really bad at websites, social media, etc. It’s one of my goals to get better at that, but in the meantime 12 South was able to guide me, since I don’t have much of an idea about what I want in a website. I think they do a wonderful job!”

Can you tell us about some of the artists you auditioned with or played for during your time as a hired gun? What about your time in Zuba?
“I played with a few Colorado bands (Sponge Kingdom, Buzz Harvest, and Zuba). After Zuba split I moved to Louisiana and played with the Vince Converse Band. The Vince Converse Band was really fun but exhausting. It was the polar opposite of Zuba (who were very health conscious); Vince was not by a long shot. Zuba was a lot of fun, too; I was younger and unprepared for the pressures of touring extensively. I did a lot of regrettable, stupid things on the road (every now and then I remember something and wince). We played something like 200 shows per year, and the band eventually fractured. When I moved to New York City, I played with a band called the Shade, kind of an Alt-Country band. I tried out for a lot of bands here but nothing ever worked out. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, and I definitely didn’t want to tour. That’s when I got the Gavin DeGraw tryout and effectively ended my career as a sideman.” - Tom Lohrmann Music Blog


"A is for Atom on Impose Magazine"

Mike Cykoski, aka A is for Atom, has crafted life tales via the Song For You EPs, and we have a listen to the title track here. In the grand tradition of song writers penning songs for special someones, the legend carries on and the torches change hands again, and again, and again… - Impose Magazine


"NEW SINGLE BY A IS FOR ATOM"

A is for Atom brings a unique touch to the rock genre with his soft tone, but realistic vocals over instrumentals that tell an amazing story with his 2 EPs, Song for You released May & July 2014. He uses his lyrics to create protagonists that experience the ups and downs of life, which makes his music relatable and an escape into fantasy.

Mike Cykoski (A is for Atom) has been compared to The National and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, but finds no musician more influential than his friend for many years, and the artist who inspired him to become a musician, Gavin DeGraw. Below you can listen to and post A is for Atom’s title track “Song for You.” - Skope Magazine


"A Is For Atom on MTM"

After his journey through the sideman gig hustle, a few relocations, and music school, Mike Cykoski decided it was time for something a little different. Netting an audition with pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw, Mike’s decision to go solo was simple.

“That was the trigger on the path to becoming a solo artist,” Mike reveals. “I was in his apartment and he played many songs on the piano; they were all so good and he impressed me. It was right before he flew to LA to do the showcase that got him a record deal.”

Studying music technology through NYU’s master’s degree program, Mike went on to study at Julliard as well as completing certificates at Harvest Works and Dubspot. This allowed him to dive deep into his explorations of electronic music.

Setting himself some goals, Cykoski was able to find the funding, the right producer, and the motivation that led him to creating two 5 song EPs as A Is For Atom.

Speaking on the title track of his Song For You EP, Mike states, "Song for You” was the last thing that my ex said to me, that “you never wrote a song for me”…it just seems to be the theme. The break up theme.”

Despite the loneliness and love lost, Song For You is a relatively happy sounding record.

Mike’s composition and writing skills reflect those of the top names in this business. The production quality is nothing short of excellent which sets the tone for Cykoski’s emotionally driven lyrics. With plenty of nuances, literary references, and nods to the ’90s Seattle rock scene; A Is For Atom needs to join your collection of awesome indie music.

If you’re looking for interesting and refreshing ways to stimulate your songwriting, take a note or two from Mike,
“I listen to classical music, how operas are written like stories, and my lyric structures appropriate this compositional style where the chorus is an aria and the verse is a recitative,” he explains.

A Is For Atom is a unique mix of elements that falls somewhere on the spectrum between Elvis Costello and Radiohead…but with a Flaming Lips flair.

Grab your copy of Song For You then connect with A Is For Atom on FB or Twitter. - Middle Tennessee Music Blog


"A is For Atom Has a ‘Song For You’"

You’d think you’d know what an EP by an former Julliard student with an Ben Folds vibe and a love for composition and electronic music would sound like, right? Turns out you probably don’t. There’s nothing expected or predictable about Song For You, the latest effort by A is For Atom, an alt-rock band fronted by singer-songwriter Mike Cykoski.

Any expectations have to be discarded the start of the first track. “Load Up On Guns,” sounds, on the most surface level, sort of like an adult “The Wheels On the Bus:” (“The girls on the streets are laughing, laughing, laughing … The boys on the streets are crying, crying, crying.”). The title, a glaring reference to opening line of Nirvana’s legendary “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is the first clue to the song’s concealed grimness. Lyrics in the second verse imply that our “girls and boys,” destitute, have died by suicide.

Cykoski’s interest in electronic music shapes the title track, the production of which sets the wistful tone: “I never wrote a song for you,” a lover laments in the rueful refrain. His composer side comes out in the breakdowns: the first is plucky and purely acoustic (the transition is seamless, though), while the second is an instrumentally-diverse thrill ride breaking up an otherwise sullen song. Experimentation in sound is even more prominent on “Bombs Away,” a love-as-war-as-love extended metaphor with shuffling percussion and a head-bobbing riff.

Lyrically, Song For You has no problem alternating between the real and the imagined: “The White Dress” builds a fictitious romance around Emily Dickinson, while “A Song For You” takes its inspiration directly from the singer’s divorce, and “India” dramatizes the singer’s father’s time in the Air Force into a truly memorable song composed with a distinctive crispness.

“India,” like “Load Up on Guns,” approaches hefty subject matter with a light touch: Cykoski’s rendering of the near-paralyzing fear his father must have experienced working at a missile silo (“I know that if I go too high, I’ll prob’ly die here in India”) is surprisingly upbeat. Cykoski seems to enjoy making the listener work just a little bit harder; “India’s” true tone reveals itself through a nuanced vocal performance, the finest on the EP. Except in the title track, Song For You doesn’t make room for typical sadness.

Song For You lacks the immediacy of other mainstream indie fare (no longer an oxymoron, it seems), but that’s because it chooses to. The EP is clearly a labor of love by a brilliant songwriter and a band with flawless instincts. It deserves to be listened to with the same level of care.

Buy Song For You on iTunes, and learn more about A is For Atom on their website. Twitter here, Facebook here. - Indiemunity


"CD Review: A is for Atom “Song for You”"

une 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm (Music) (A is For Atom, Alternative Rock, Elton John, keyboard-based, Mike Cykoski, New Wave, pop-rock, smooth jazz, Steely Dan, The Beatles)
A is for Atom A is for Atom is a New York-based Alternative Rock outfit formed by New York transplant Mike Cykoski when he decided that he had had enough playing behind other people. Once Cykoski decided to go in his own direction as far as music was concerned, he started creating songs that featured an Alternative Rock sound with a lot of orchestral feeling to it. To help promote his music, Mike Cykoski released two EPs worth of music. The latest of those releases is called Song for You.
The new release from A is for Atom begins with the track “Load up on Guns”. The track has a fun, light feel to the music as it contains a rather unusual mix of both acoustic guitars that help to build the main body of the song and electronic keyboards that add a slightly spacey feel to the track. In fact, the keyboards come in near the middle of the song and the resulting keyboard solo feels like something that might have come from a New Wave song from the 1980s. The song then changes directions near the end of the track when an electric guitar comes in and adds a little depth to the music. While the song’s title might sound like some kind of statement, the track is just a fun listening experience that happens to be very catchy.
Song for You from A is for Atom continues with the title track of the release. While “Load up on Guns” has a fun, easy feel to it, “Song for You” changes the emotional feel of the EP. As the song title was inspired by something Cykoski’s ex-girlfriend once said to him, the lyrics of this song play on the statement “you never wrote a song for me”. The track features a slow-paced, yet steady feel to it while the music itself falls somewhere between pop-rock and smooth jazz in a style that might remind some of music from a band like Steely Dan. If Elton John’s “Your Song” is the ultimate statement on love, maybe “Song for You” by A is for Atom can be seen as its antithesis.
While the first two tracks of Song for You from A is for Atom contain a style that could easily fit into today’s musical formats, Mike Cykoski takes the song “Bombs Away” in a completely different direction. The keyboard-driven track brings to mind many of the songs from the New Wave era of music. The track brings the listener back to a time when musicians were not only unafraid to try something new with their music; they wanted to push music as far as they could. The resulting track of “Bombs Away” from A is for Atom is one of those tracks that may feel a bit dated because of the use of drum loops and the particular keyboard sound produced on the track, but it can also feel just as fresh because it really doesn’t make you think of anyone else in the music industry today.
Mike Cykoski describes A is for Atom as a “melodic driven alt band”. Nowhere is that more evident than on the track “The White Dress”. In a track that may instrumentally bring to mind “The Fool on the Hill” by The Beatles, the piano-driven track builds as many different elements come together in such a manner that the track feels almost orchestrated. The track also features fine vocals that create a nice harmony to the lyrics of the song. Once the horns appear, the listener experiences a beauty in the song’s music that rarely appears in today’s music industry.
Song for You from A is for Atom comes to an end with the track “India”. The track is a strong pop-rock track that features a very strong keyboard-driven feel. While the song has a relatively timeless feel, the keyboard solo at the end of the track once again brings the music back to a more New Wave feel.
The new release from A is for Atom called Song for You is a pop-rock fan’s dream as Mike Cykoski creates music that can be very appealing to people who like a lot of different styles of rock and roll. The five songs contained within the release are a nice mix of sounds and there’s not a bad track on the release.
Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: **** (four stars) - Matheson's Entertainment Blog


"Top 10 Best song rip-off’s of all-time"

Mike Cykoski is the frontman and bassist of NYC-based A Is For Atom. With a Master’s degree from NYU’s Music Technology program, his ear possesses an acute sense of thievery… Let’s check out some of his favorite musical rip-offs which you might find disappointing/entertaining, depending on your point of view!

It is often said that Pablo Picaso stated that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” The reality is probably more like: a great artist will take another idea and make it better.

In music this is sometimes the case, but more often than not I’m left scratching my head wondering “how did someone get away with this!” Now days with more access to music than ever, I have noticed more and more songs that are even outright copies!

There are certainly a lot more than 10 songs but I’ve broken down my favorite rip-offs of all-time. Hail to the thieves! - The Celebrity Cafe.com


"Review: A Is For Atom - Song For You EP"

The best source material for an artist clearly comes from real life and on his second EP under the moniker A is For Atom, New York transplant Mike Cykoski mines his personal experiences for five songs of bittersweet melancholy. While his first recording dealt with the pursuit of love and the deep desire for a relationship, Song For You deals with the other side of that equation, having loved and lost and learning to deal with the consequences. To accomplish this task, the artist draws deeply from the well of experience alongside some powerful literary allusions that work well in his intelligent indie rock digs.

Cykoski's no newcomer to the music world, having been part of a successful Denver band on the cusp of breaking big but, when those streams ran dry, he drew inspiration to pursue a solo career after auditioning for none other than Gavin DeGraw.
“That was the trigger on the path to becoming a solo artist,” Mike reveals. “I was in his apartment and he played many songs on the piano; they were all so good and he impressed me. It was right before he flew to LA to do the showcase that got him a record deal.”

Inspired by a passion for songwriting, Cykoski embarked on his own journey, taking classes at NYU and at Julliard, constantly learning and making the connections that would lead him in developing his own sound and musical signature. That sound has drawn him favorable comparisons to acts like The National and The Flaming Lips but it's still one that is very much his own. And on Song For You he continues to nurture it along, drawing together an eclectic soundscape to stand alongside his cerebral lyricism.
Song For You is undercut throughout with an element of pain, a bittersweet thread running throughout the five tracks even when the musical accompaniment suggests otherwise. "Load Up on Guns" gets things moving forward first, the bright, singalong composition contrasting with the almost militaristic and war-tinged lyric, Cykoski singing about the pain and loss felt through relationships. He brings in some interesting electronic elements to lend something unique while a persistent backbeat presses things forward.

The title track follows and is easily the most accessible and compelling of the bunch. Here Cykoski layers his solid vocal against a subtle backdrop, an almost jazz-influenced hit of guitar running throughout and helping to hammer home the power of the lyric. That lyric was inspired and drawn directly from the artist's life, being the last thing his ex-wife said to him, that he had never wrote a song for you. The poignancy of the lyric permeates the track and even when he employs some dissonant keyboard notes alongside, it rings true.
"Bombs Away" is a bit more upbeat, insistent guitar bridging the track through and through while the lyric builds upon the metaphor of an "all or nothing" approach to love, more war-themed imagery playing into the artist's songwriting. The melody is lighthearted but the lyric heavy as he sings, "War is hell," speaking of the difficulty of love and relationships, the guitar blazing a trail to emphasize the point. Such language carries along on "India" as well, inspired by the experiences of the artist's father and his work at a missile silo during the times of the Cold War. The pressures of the potential dangers and catastrophes inherent in such a position lend themselves powerfully to Cykoski's lament of love and loss, framed in a solid indie rock wrapping.

"The White Dress" is the artist's most cerebral track as he places himself in the shoes of Emily Dickinson's lover, attempting to pen letters back to the legendary poet. The arrangement, driven by piano and infused with flourishes of trumpet and more, is undercut with a sense of pain, the task of matching his lover's words clearly impossible but his task is driven ahead by that love in spite of the circumstances. Infused with plenty of literary references, this one is no doubt one of Cykoski's finer tracks on the EP.
Mike Cykoski's latest, Song For You, is a solid blend of creative instrumentation and solid songwriting. The EP's five songs draw from deep wells and present a somewhat sad but still hopeful look at love and life. And doing so with arrangements that continue to be interesting after the initial listen, Cykoski shows himself to be a force to be reckoned with and is hopefully a voice we'll be hearing from again soon. - along the journey blog


"CD Review: A Is For Atom's 'Song For You'"

A Is For Atom is an electronic-pop venture by Mike Cykoski, which reinvents Brit-pop influences with spacey, electronica and breathtaking, melodic arrangements. Song For You is a six-track release with different elements constructed within each track that makes each one stand out. The reggae-tinged and cathartic track, "Bombs Away," contains a breezy melody, alt-pop elements, and great vocals throughout. "Load Up On Guns" opens with scratchy, electronic sounds and Owsley-esque vocals with a hint of British ambiance. A laser-like dance medley of keyboard and Moog synthesizer creates a spacey affect later on. Think of Action Figure Party with more pop constructions and synth-driven songs. "India" contains a bit of folksy and reggae-tinged music with a grungy-pop element that is both fun and diverse. Overall, A Is For Atom is so good here; I give it an A+ and 5 Stars (out of 5)~ Matthew Forss - Inside World Music Blog


"Album Review: A Is For Atom - “Song For You”"

Much has fueled the fire of creativity for musician Mike Cykoski, the man behind A Is For Atom. His first EP, which was self-titled, dealt with finding love and keeping it, whereas this most recent EP takes on a different tone. Based around a breakup where the last thing she told him was that he never wrote a song for her, the theme of breakup shows up time and time again through songs such as “The White Dress” and of course “Song For You.” Although these songs might have a happy ambience about them, they all happen to clearly be songs about heartbreak. It’s interesting how these two aspects are juxtaposed yet still end up working so well together.
“The White Dress,” which appears second to last, is a beautifully composed song that Cykoski should be incredibly proud of. Its beauty is increased by the use of brass instruments after each chorus. The track has a hint of Pink Floyd-esque style that shows its face every now and then. The Emily being sung about in here happens to be Emily Dickenson. Because of that he has taken a more literary approach to his writing, and it has paid off for him, making this song one of the biggest highlights of the EP.
There’s so much going on musically in the background of each track; it’s much more than an acoustic guitar that makes up each composition. Everything from pianos, synths, electric guitars, cymbals, and brass instruments can be heard filling the songs, which makes multiple listens all the more necessary.
This EP also carries an underlying idea of war on the songs “Load Up On Guns,” “Bombs Away,” and “India.” Although “Bombs Away” tells of a soldier going into a warzone where the only way out is death, the story also serves as a metaphor for the relationship. Cykoski adds a touch of country to his song “India.” The track is said to be written around the story of Cykoski’s father and his time spent in the Air Force and serves as a great closing track for this reflective EP.
A Is For Atom combines the futuristic tones of The Flaming Lips with the upbeat indie soft-rock of Death Cab For Cutie side project The Postal Service. For all indie rock fans out there, this album deserves your attention.
Review by Alec Cunningham
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) - Good Vibes Music Reviews


"IN TALKS: A is for Atom"

I have had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Cykoski, the phenomenal artist behind a budding new project known as A is for Atom. Channeling such artists as The National, Radiohead, Neutral Milk Hotel and Sade, amongst others, A is for Atom creates heartfelt and heartbreaking songs that will make you take notice. A is for Atom's single, "A Song for You," is a perfect first listen into Cykoski's soundscape.

A is for Atom "A Song for You"

https://soundcloud.com/aisforatom/02-a-is-for-atom-a-song-for-you-song-for-you-ep

IN TALKS: A is for Atom photo 1

A is for Atom creates a unique sound that blends an array of sounds. When creating music, what type of sound are you aiming for?

MC: The sounds from A is for Atom really come with the collaboration with Julian
Cassi (the producer) and I. When we were creating the sonic structure of the album we spent a lot of time listening to Serge Gainsbourg, especially the low vocals (although that is the lower range of my voice), the drum sounds of The Bad Plus and orchestral arrangements of Scott Walker with Synths and guitars and synth styles of the early 70s with some funk and Ragaeton thrown in for good measure. We wanted there to be a lot of vocal parts, which was the most difficult part to capture.

Can you explain your songwriting process? MC: I use several methods of songwriting. Sometimes I come up with the melody first then write the lyrics and sometimes a lyric then the melody. If I’m lucky I come up with both at the same time. Then I spend a bit of time editing and messing around with the intervals. I really like for the chorus to be a release of energy from the verse. My goal is a mini opera, with all of the information in the verse or recitative and the beautiful parts in the chorus or aria.

How do you configure your instrumentation? MC: That really just depends on the song...for this album a lot of song topics are very heavy so we lightened them up a bit on the instrumentation, for example trumpets, rock guitars, classic synths, etc. I really liked the juxtaposition of dark lyrics with more swirling lighthearted arrangements.

How you do you translate the in studio sound into your live stage setting? MC: That was more difficult than I thought it would be. The songs are very difficult to play live, especially playing the bass and singing lead vocals. I usually have 4 other musicians play with me (guitarist, drummer, synth and backup vocal). I’ve
been playing with Clara Lofaro (backup vocals) and Scott Chasolen (Synth/backup vocals) for a few years now, who are extremely talented! There have been some great guitarists and drummers in the band as well. Right now I am working on a pared down acoustic set with just Scott and Clara (which will debut this Saturday at Rockwood Music Hall-stage 1 at 1AM).

Your lyrics seem to come from a very deep and heartfelt place. What is the lyrical inspiration behind the songs? MC: I used to write a lot in more of a free form way, not really paying much attention to the lyrics. I wrote some songs with the bands I was in before and would focus on the melody and the chord changes. The first song I ever wrote from a very heartfelt place was a song called “Where Were You?” for the band Zuba. I really started paying more attention to baring my soul in lyrics when I moved to New York 13 years ago and went through some life-changing events 9/11, marriage and breakup/divorce. I really threw a lot of those experiences into my songs.

What was the recording process like for "Song for You"? MC: It was great, but took a long time. I really learned a lot through the process. Working with Julian and Kia Eshghi, and Al Carlson (the engineers) was truly
a great experience. I really enjoyed working with the mastering engineer Joe Lambert a great deal. My favorite part was recording the vocals up in Hudson New York at Henry Hirsch Studios, which was a converted church.

What is the most personal song on the record for you, and why? MC: It’s definitely “The White Dress”, the song is very personal about my breakup/divorce. It was loosely based on Emily Dickenson, who was my
ex-wife’s favorite poet. When we broke up I started writing the lyrics to a tune I had written and it all fell together. There was an article I read somewhere, possibly the NY Times-not sure, that theorized that Emily Dickenson had a lover in Philadelphia, so I wrote it from his/my perspective. For a while I couldn’t
sing the song, it was far too emotional for me. It was the most difficult song to produce as well because it was very tough to get an arrangement that was delicate yet angry. We couldn’t go too far either way. What really tied everything together were the trumpet parts by Dan Brantigan which are very emotional
and cinematic. The song is really fun to play live as well!

Who are your musical influences? MC: Lately my influences have been Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon, Elton John, Bob Dylan and the Band, David Bowie and John Lennon. My favorite albums are Nilsson Schmilson, Plastic Ono Band, Man Who Sold the World and Tumbleweed Connection. I have been recently listening to Laura Nyro as well. I really love the blues and country—there are so many artists!

What is next on the horizon for A is for Atom? MC: Right now I am writing songs for a new set of albums. I have several songs in pre-production and I hope to start producing it this winter. I will be releasing two
singles in the next few Months, so stay tuned for that. I will also be playing shows in the East and West Coast, Austin and Colorado as well as Europe next spring! - Buzznet


"A is for Atom: Unique and Compelling"

Entrenched with a plethora of musical knowledge and a passion for songwriting and originality, Mike Cykoski, the front man of A is for Atom has found a way to display rich, compelling sounds with his love and passion for creating irreplaceable tunes. At the age of 13, Mike found himself enamored with the art of music and by the time he was in high school he had made the decision to pursue it full time. Mike moved from one state to the next, but by the time he got to Colorado, he was able to dive into their incredible music scene and said, “I joined a few bands that were starting to tour professionally—I was hooked then!”

Now, Mike has founded the Brooklyn based band A is for Atom who mix Mike’s passion for writing music that is unique not only in sound but in theme as well. The sound of their music pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel the essence of whatever the song topic may be. Mike takes his role as a composer seriously, saying “I think that the most important thing when writing is to just be honest about my feelings, it’s a fight against self-censorship so it’s a process for sure!” He aims to be able to relate to everyone through the work he puts out.

From their most recent EP, Mike says his favorite song is “White Dress” a song about a rough breakup—something that can resonate with anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to someone they once loved. “I like playing it live a lot—musicians have a good time playing it (especially if they’ve been through a tough breakup),” Mike shares. He even said that it resonated so deeply with one drummer that they had to calm him down, “he was very emotional about it.”

In the near future, we can expect two new singles from A is for Atom, which will be a part of their next album that is in the works. Mike also shares that he hopes to bring in a more acoustic element to his shows, “focusing on the songs and the vocals, going to try that out at my next show.”

If you want to see A is for Atom in action, you can catch them at Bowery Electric on Wednesday, October 8 at 8:00 PM with the full band. You can also check the website www.aisforatom.com for updates as well as sign up for their mailing list! - A Vocal Accord


Discography

Last Man on the Moon EP 2017

Chasing the Night Single 2016

Amsterdam Single 2016

Song for You, EP 2014

A is for Atom, EP 2012

Photos

Bio

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 multitextured 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: “Now I have to go start recording.”

Band Members