ATMOSFEAR  

Andy Sojka (1952 – 2000)

Anthony Antoniou

 

Andrzej 'Andy' Sojka (pronounced Soy-car) managed a record shop in Harlesden North West London called All Ears. At that time during the late 1970s and early 1980s, small independent stores such as this became meeting points for customers, friends and DJs, who would not only go there to buy music, but generally hang out and converse. One day, he overheard his business partner Rick Dejongh playing instruments with some of his friends in the shop’s backroom, and convinced them to become a fully fledged group. He founded the record company Elite, in order to enable them to release a single. Dancing In Outer Space sold over 100,000 copies, and became known as a prime example of a classic brit-funk 12”. It has been covered by other artists many times since it's initial release. Sales figures like these of course attracted the interest of the majors, and the single re-appeared on MCA Records almost a year before the group’s first LP, En Trance, was issued in 1981. The record’s sleeve was designed by bassist Lester J Batchelor, and Sojka played lead guitar. The other main musicians were Anthony Antoniou on rhythm guitar and vocals, Stewart Cawthorne on sax, and another All Ears alumnus Jerry Pike produced some excellent sound effects. Peter Hinds, Leroy Williams, and Carol Kenyon were also involved as additional musicians and vocalists. The shop’s back room eventually morphed into a proper recording studio, but the LP was not recorded there.

Whilst on a visit to the Royal College of music in search of new talent, Sojka stumbled upon yet another band practising. They called themselves 88, and Sojka asked them to consider his offer of a deal.

Atmosfear continued on into the 1980s with the singles Motivation which came backed with Extract, Invasion, Creator's Dream, Xtra Special, Telepathy and Personal Column both co-written and produced by Dejongh and Sojka. What Do We Do in 1983, featured the vocals of Beverley Skeete, who later went on to have success on her own. Anthony Antoniou gained a solo deal with Elite, and his single Lifeline did surprisingly well for him. Sojka and Pike later released the track Journey under a new group name, Powerline.

Unfortunately the record shop foundered, but the Elite label went from strength to strength signing numerous UK artists in the process, such as the Birmingham based group Projection, The Hard Rock Soul Movement, and another band Sahara, who earned themselves local hits.

By the middle of the 1980s, Atmosfear were producing a number of records influenced by electro, which seemed to dominate the black music scene for a while back then. Things came full circle in the 1990s, as their back catalogue was discovered by a new generation of dance music acts, who have sampled and re-worked their earlier singles.

En Trance album

One version of the Motivation 12"