Atem S is a musical project by singer and producer Adam Smetana who is based in Chicago, US. In his latest release titled, “Lift Off”, he has collaborated with producer By Proxy Music (Harrisyn Hartt) to create the synth-heavy pop track. Adam writes and produces synth-pop songs that reflect 80’s and 90’s music and his songs are based on night-time and cinematic influences. Known for his exciting party tracks, “Party Hard Enough” and “The Problem Is”, Atem S’s music comprises of crazy electronics, fun synths, and heavy beats.
A monophonic synth phrase opens the track, followed by uniquely vocals over a bass guitar. There are a lot of colours in “Lift Off” that come from the array of synths being used. By crossing genres and fusing multiple computerised sounds, Atem S creates a distinct sound that’s interesting and uplifting. He sings about an issue a lot of us can relate to – social media addiction. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Adam!
Q ‘Lift Off’ features emotional and vibrant lyrics that sound great! What inspired you to write this song?
I wrote the lyrics about how I, at one point, was going on Instagram way too much during quarantine. I became fascinated and obsessed by this virtual world – needing to show a piece of my life every day as if living inside a reality show. I’m not sure why we spend so much time wanting people to “like” and be jealous of our very mundane lives; using pictures as a way to look and feel popular, rich, successful and happy. Nothing really is as it seems on there. This year, I’ve really been trying to make an effort to step away and…lift off, so to speak. Naturally, I just moved on to TikTok instead. 🙂
Compared to his other songs, I feel “Lift Off” is more lively, though the lyrics may not be as such. Atem has a knack for fusing a plethora of exciting synths to produce his distinctive sound, and it seems to have a lot of fun with the keys! This nuance can be heard in almost all of his songs. Here’s what he had to say about his releases.
Q You have released a few singles since 2020 that have been well received by listeners and suit the synth-pop sound you’ve been going for. What could you share with us about your writing and production process?
Most of the time, a song begins either in my head or as I mess around with my synth. I used to struggle to write songs on the guitar and I’ve pretty much accepted that it’s not my preferred choice when it comes to hearing melodies. The hardest part of production is not overthinking everything, while also trusting your instincts and not comparing your ideas to other people’s. The songs you write and make are not going to sound like your favorite artist. Nor should they. I’d rather have an original sound that may be divisive than spend my time emulating music that somebody else already did, but way better.
Working with even one extra collaborator on a project can really change the color of a song, and it’s not always an easy task. On “Lift Off”, you can hear a groovy beat that isn’t like Adam’s other releases, and I think that’s where the magic of By Proxy Music comes in!
Q You’ve worked with By Proxy Music on this track. How was your experience and what it was like to work collaboratively rather than alone?
Working with By Proxy Music (Harrisyn Hartt) has been a joyride. Harrisyn usually sends me a few tracks he’s working on, and I’ll jump on and write some new synth parts and a vocal melody. Collaborating is something that has always made me nervous, because of how difficult it is to get multiple people on the same page to agree on an idea, especially when it comes to music and how a particular thing sounds. This collaboration has been effortless though. I wrote the “Lift Off” chorus in 10 minutes after hearing the original instrumental draft. I love writing lyrics over other people’s music. I put on instrumental songs all the time, like AG Cook’s 7G project, and write top-line vocal ideas and my own lyrics for fun. It’s like stepping into somebody else’s closet and trying on their clothes: a little awkward at first, but when it fits, damn, it really fits.
If I had to assign a genre to “Lift Off”, I could best describe it as EDM drowned with in a lot of electronic keyboards, but Adam’s sound, honestly, cannot be put into just ‘one’ specific genre. His genre crossing music has the ability to reach a wide audience because of how versatile he is when it comes to producing and songwriting.
Q Who are your influences and how have they shaped your sound?
Charli XCX, St. Vincent, Rod Stewart. My music sounds absolutely nothing like theirs but they make me hear music in a different way. To put it simply, they push the ideas of performance to an extreme while also not being afraid to be campy or make a fool of themselves. I relate to that in music and life.
Adam’s career has only just begun, and he’s already making waves in the electronic music scene, working with multiple producers and writing frequently. With a few releases already out on Spotify and more songs to come, I’m sure Adam’s fanbase will keep growing!
Q What do you have planned for your fans in the future? What can we expect from Atem S in the coming releases?
So many things in the works! Another live stream performance, a new Christmas song for charity, another By Proxy Music collaboration, and I’m working on organizing a tribute album to a very important artist featuring musicians from around the world. My new solo songs are starting to step in a more forward direction that I’ve been headed in for a while. I finally wrote some chill, laid-back songs this summer, which is new for me. Mostly, I’m listening to dance music, so expect a lot of anthems in 2022.
Q How did the pandemic affect your music creation process? Do you have any advice to share with musicians who are stuck at home due to the lockdown?
My main advice is to enjoy being at home while you can be and take advantage of all that extra downtime you are now rewarded with. It’s given me time to do all the things I’ve wanted to do and make things that I can say are mine. It’s a great feeling.