Atka, the London-based German musician, songwriter, and producer has shared “Lenny,” a new single off of her forthcoming debut EP, The Eye Against The Ashen Sky, out November 3. Of the song, Atka notes “This is a song about how one man’s tunnel-visioned obsession with finding meaning turns everything around him into a swamp of meaninglessness that also sucks in everyone around him. It’s witnessing empty repetition right in front of your eyes and the helplessness and all-limbs-dropping-to-the-floor exhaustion felt as a result, when caring for someone who is depressed. And ultimately it’s about the absence of being perceived by that person and one’s drift into a ghost-like state. When no one is watching or sees me – do I even exist? Lenny is about “reverse-paranoia” if you want it.”
“Lenny” follows her previously released single “Desiring Machines,” which FLOOD Magazine described saying, “Penned while working on her master thesis last summer, the track plays out like a gently building Florence + the Machine ballad crafted by the heartland-rock and post-punk proclivities of Gang of Youths.” Atwood Magazine went on to say “utterly breathtaking…shiver-inducing.”
The artist, whose real name is Sarah Neumann, wrote her debut EP The Eye Against The Ashen Sky last year in London parallel to completing her master’s degree in philosophy, in which she intensively studied the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre’s, theory of the gaze.
Although Atka has been writing, producing and recording her own music for years, she has so far remained in the background of the music industry. Growing up in a tiny village in Germany, she moved to the beaches of the Gold Coast in Australia at the age of 15 and later to the snowy mountains in Squamish, Canada, before finding a home in London.
Initially pursuing a career in sustainability research and politics, Atka quickly became disillusioned by the bureaucracy of the political system and instead considered going into filmmaking. A few self-directed short films, runner- and costume assistant jobs later, she however returned to music as a journalist for Rolling Stone, Groove and Musikexpress and others. With her own sound however, she has only been tinkering in private – whether on her walks through St. James Park to procrastinate writing her master’s thesis, on the tube on the way to Soho or in her improvised home studio in East London. Atka comes up with ideas mostly when she is on the move. Incorporating that constant movement into her music, she wants her songs to create a cinematic feel – or how she describes it: to be “journey-esque.” A versatile musician who cites Joy Division and Kraftwerk as her most formative influences, she wrote her first song at the age of ten and later gained the attention of big names in the music scene for her poetic lyrics and unique flair for music production and composition.
On the EP, the musician now processes this academic debate through storytelling in a close, tangible manner. Here, intellectual interests and personal experiences blur into an autobiographical work about shame and paranoia. Track after track, The Eye Against The Ashen Sky meanders deeper and deeper through various manifestations of these emotional worlds to their origin in the overwhelming gaze of the Other. The tracks were produced primarily with modular and analogue synthesizers and guitars in the South-London home studio of Jung Kim, the lead guitarist of the band Gang of Youths and Stephen Sedgwick, the trusted mixer/sound engineer of the Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Blur mixed the record.