Ela Minus on “acts of rebellion” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024  

Ela Minus on “acts of rebellion”

Embracing the Present

Sep 08, 2021 Issue #68 - Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue) Photography by Juan-Ortiz-Arenas Bookmark and Share

When applied to a Japanese fighting game character, a punch is never just a punch. It becomes “Megaton Justice Fist” or something along those lines. Just looking at Ela Minus’ grid of synths, sequencers, and drum machines inspires a similar kind of purple prose. Minus’ craft doesn’t merely entail a cerebral sequence of turning knobs and playing keys: each action is augmented by singular intent or feeling. The Colombian-born/Brooklyn-based singer—whose birth name is Gabriela Jimeno—places small mementos with pink tape all over her machines, little words and phrases that resonate to her in some way.

“It’s been a constantly changing thing,” Jimeno explains. “I started doing it from a practical sense, just writing down MIDI-channels…just technical things I needed to remember. So much of my gear is a little old, it doesn’t have memory or presets. I have to remember a lot of things, and I started making these notes.”

As a producer and songwriter, Jimeno is already uncompromising in her vision, but she takes it another step further by building her own synths from scratch. She has molded this vocation into an adventurous sonic lingo that explores experimental techno, offbeat pop, and ambient synth-based improvisations. It’s a swift departure from her past days playing drums in various hardcore and indie rock bands, more stuck in a designated role that relied on skill, muscle memory, and physicality. Having done so for an extended period has made Jimeno—in her own words—somewhat “bored.”

The title of Ela Minus’s full-length debut, acts of rebellion, was inspired by a passage from the Chuck Palahniuk-novel Diary. “It’s actually an extremely dark book,” Jimeno comments. “It’s about a woman who is an artist, and in college she falls in love with this man. They get married and move to an island, where she is a housewife. Suddenly she is reconsidering her decisions because she is not painting anymore. There’s a moment where the husband describes her doing the dishes, and how she started engraving her name into the plates after she washed them. Honestly, I don’t remember much of the book, so I’m not sure how much of this is still correct. But my interpretation of it was that she was trying to leave her mark into the world somehow. To say that she was here and she was an artist. It struck me as a beautiful little act of rebellion against everything.”

It’s an idea similar to all the small notes Jimeno has scribbled on pink tape whenever and wherever she was playing. These fertile chunks of wisdom inspire her to instill intrinsic value into her work and be present.

“It also helps you be more grounded,” she concludes. “I’ve played drums for many years for other people. Obviously, everything becomes a routine if you have to do it every day. It’s impossible that it doesn’t. But I learned a lot by seeing bands do things I didn’t want to do myself. One thing I wanted to avoid as much as I could was the performance and the music becoming a routine. I think what helps most against that is just being present. When you are present in the minute, then it’s not about anything. Not about what you did the day before, or doing it again the day after. You focus on ‘that moment’ and ‘that show.’ And that’s everything there is. That has helped me so much. Some of the tape on my gear just says that: ‘Be here!’ or ‘Pay attention!’ or ‘Listen.’ Little things like that help me come back to reality.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 68 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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