“I wanted to make a small, punk, club album,” Ela Minus tells Apple Music about her sharp-edged debut full-length acts of rebellion. Punk is the key word here; the Colombian-born, Brooklyn-based electronic producer, who cut her teeth playing drums in Bogotá’s DIY scene, wrote the album partly as a rallying cry for the current political moment. rebellion, which is at once fiercely turbulent and disarmingly tender, fuses techno’s communal energy with the cerebral introspection that comes with more solitary moments on the dance floor. “These songs are gritty, sweaty, and in the moment; they have an active spirit,” Minus says. “To me, punk and electronic music come from the same rebellious place. They say, ‘The world is kind of fucked up and we’re going to change it.’” Read the inside story behind every song on the album below.
N19 5NF “This track begins with a breath, and that’s very symbolic. It’s titled after the zip code from a London hospital where I had been sick and had a close call. Essentially, it’s where I believe my life before this album ended and the new life began. This is the first song of the first album of that new life. It felt like a new beginning, like I was born again. Long before any of that had happened, I’d made this track with a bunch of samples from my favorite philosophy podcasts. But after a while, I muted them and realized, ‘Ah, this works way better.’ The samples were just extremely literal. I like to send a message with my music, but if you do it right, the spirit of the messages will still be there.”
they told us it was hard, but they were wrong. “I wanted to make a hymn for weirdos, for everybody who is told that their ideas won’t work or can’t be done. That has happened to me so many times in my life and I’ve had to just say, ‘Fuck everybody. I can do whatever I want.’ For me, the fact that I was sitting in my house, completely free to make the album that I wanted to make, with time to breathe and everything...it felt like a huge achievement. It felt like I finally had the life that I wanted.”
el cielo no es de nadie “This is the most direct—and maybe the only—love song on the album. With this whole project, I'm trying to give everybody an alternative, another way of doing things or another perspective. In this song, I sing in Spanish about what it means to really love someone. I say, ‘Everybody goes to the moon and back to show someone how much they love them, but anybody can do that. Not everybody can give you their time every single day, consistently. So if you love me, don't give me the moon or grand gestures. Be there every single day.’ It’s a call for all of us to seek and give real love.”
megapunk “I made this entire album at night. I’d record before bed and edit when I woke up. With this song, I remember having so much fun making it and then waking up the next day thinking, ‘Okay, maybe too much fun.’ It’s ‘megapunk’ after the demo because it was so loud and ten minutes long. But clearly it was very healing to me. I was angry. I wanted to write a motivating anthem for people to step up, organize, and march. I had this image in my head of a group of women getting together to march for feminism, and I wanted to relay a sense of empowerment while also inviting them to act.”
pocket piano “When I’m playing live, I never stop. I keep going, and in between songs I leave empty space. I have the ability to leave all my machines running even though no sound is coming out so I can improvise and play whatever I want. One night, I played this track intuitively during a transition at a show. I remember thinking I wanted to ground everybody a little bit. I had gone too fast and too loud for too long, and it was time for a group hug. That’s what I think it does in this album, too. The whole song has just one synth, and it’s one I actually made myself years ago and named pocket piano.”
dominique “This is the most autobiographical song on the album. I was very deep into writing and had basically lost all sense of time. I was doing everything alone, and because I could do whatever I wanted, my days and schedule slowly shifted. One day, I woke up at 7 pm and just felt bad and confused. So I made myself some coffee, pulled up the music from the night before, found the track without the lyrics and wrote, ‘I just woke up/It's 7 pm/My brain feels like it's going to break.’”
let them have the internet “I'm a geek and I love technology, and for a long time I think we all thought about it romantically. Then, it became the total opposite, where it’s ruled by capitalism, corporations, and banks just like everything else. But one day I had an uplifting thought: The more that all greed takes over the internet, the more the offline world will become less capitalized. The more our money goes digital, the less it interrupts the physical world. In a way, it’s never been easier to disconnect from everything. You can turn your phone off and be present without anyone selling you anything. This song was a way for me to acknowledge that freedom. To say, ‘Let them have the internet, because we have everything else.’”
tony “This song follows that idea of being present, but on a more personal level. Whenever you meet someone you’re interested in, the beginning of any relationship is always texting. And the truth is, I don’t actually like talking that much. I’m awkward. If I want to get to know someone, I'd rather go for a walk with them or go to a show, and share a physical space where we can spend time together. I want to say to people, ‘Let’s just meet up and dance all night and see where that goes instead.’ ‘tony’ is an invitation to conquer our fear of human interaction.”
do whatever you want, all the time. “I was initially attracted to dance music because it felt rebellious. I grew up in the punk scene, and that's what I've always been drawn to, that community for outsiders. It makes you feel like you have a say in your life and the world. So much of contemporary club music is fun...but it’s soft. It isn’t pointed. I was craving something with a point of view. I really believe that if we just did whatever we wanted all the time, the world would be a better place. Suppression is a very dangerous thing. One of the most rebellious things you can do is follow your tastes and instincts wherever they lead.”
close [feat. Helado Negro] “This song is like a little candy. It's so sweet, it’s a jar of honey. I made it on a quiet, hot night and remember thinking that it felt like I had channeled my eight-year-old self and made a song she would like. A friend said she thought it should be a duet, and it was already a cheesy song, so I thought, why not go for it? A few months before, I had worked with Helado Negro on his album This Is How You Smile, and we both thought our voices sounded really nice together. I'm a huge fan of his; he’s a godfather of Latin artists in New York and is just incredibly wise and generous. I think it’s a beautiful symbol that it’s the only feature on the album, which was really a very insular experience. I did everything myself, on my own. To have a guest on the last song feels like the end of that period of solitude. Maybe in the next album, I’ll be more open to working with other musicians I love.”
they told us it was hard, but they were wrong.
el cielo no es de nadie
let them have the internet
do whatever you want, all the time.
close (feat. Helado Negro)
they told us it was hard, but they were wrong. (Edit)