The Strokes’ debut Is This It is often credited with defining and pioneering the sound of indie music in the 2000s. It’s an album that inspired underground musicians across the Americas. Fittingly, as an exclusive 2016 parting gift, we are premiering Colombian DIY upstart Ela Minus’ update of the iconic album’s title track. As you might hope, her cover is infused with the glimmering “tiny-dance” sound that has made her one of our favorite rising stars.
The original version of the song exudes laid-back New York cool through a simple, driving melody and singer Julian Casablancas’ deadpan delivery about his inner conflict over a successful bar conquest. Ela’s take is similarly cool, but more distant, as if she were telling the story from the point of view of Casablancas’ date. Ela told Remezcla over email, “I’ve never done a cover and I felt like it was an appropriate song for this moment. ‘Is this it?’ is what I have to say about this year. I’m saying goodbye to the year with some danceable melancholia and welcoming 2017.”
Her complete reworking of the melody is also noteworthy, as she has transformed it into a gentle and cuddly pop moment. The earworm effect first crafted by The Strokes is still present, particularly in the song’s bridge. As she begins to sing, “Can’t you see I’m trying, I don’t even like it,” Ela’s vocal tone rises into a beautiful, soft-spoken crescendo compelling even the most serious listener to sing along.
Ela tells us she wanted to make a tradition of releasing a freebie towards the end of the year, something she kicked off when she dropped “Smile” in January. She says, “Like ‘Smile’, this song was completed in just a few nights, without much production, while I’m vacationing in the campo in Colombia.”
Bookending 2016 with two phenomenally inspired releases, we can’t wait to see what new magic Ela Minus drops on us in 2017.