Sharing covers of Lady Gaga and Tame Impala (and calling herself Fame Impala as an homage), Janna Pelle’s new releases are a lesson on the healing power of music.
Janna Pelle knows she stands on the shoulders of giants. This year alone, the singer-songwriter has released covers of tracks by Tame Impala and Lady Gaga, namely offering her take on The Boat I Row and Joanne, respectively.
On the former song — which first appeared on the B-side edition of Impala’s 2020 album The Slow Rush – Pelle stays largely true to the original, with the addition of spacier sonics and intimate autotuned vocals.
Pelle’s rendition of The Boat I Row includes distorted adlibs and vocal asides, which add a unique flair to the original. Making full use of Impala’s signature airy soundscape, Pelle’s vocals saunter across the synths before backing melodies make way for an ascendent final chorus. While a lesser musician might crumble under the weight of a name like Tame Impala, Pelle instead flourishes, honouring the original musician while bringing her own distinct artistry to his track.
“It’s a song about being able to trust yourself as an artist despite all the self-doubt and fear of those more experienced judging your work,” Pelle said of the cover in a press statement. “It is a reminder to shut out the noise and critiques of others and believe in yourself enough to make art that is true to your vision.” That manifesto around music as an empowering force translates to Pelle’s additional cover of the Lady Gaga track Joanne.
For her rendition of Joanne — which appeared on the pop star’s 2016 album of the same name – Pelle alters the original title to align with her own name. The resulting ‘Janne’ sees Pelle introduce synths and deepen Gaga’s vocal performance, but it’s the meaning behind the track itself that motivated her to cover it. Gaga wrote the original as an ode to her aunt who died of following a health battle; an experience that remains all-too-familiar for Pelle herself.
“I have a genetic mutation called RUNX1 familial platelet disorder; a mutation in this gene is thought to be a precursor to blood cancers,” Pelle said of the intent behind her Joanne cover in a press statement. “I call my cover ‘Janne’, because in Gaga’s version, she’s talking to Joanne, where in my version, I’m talking to myself. I would find myself singing this chorus in my head when I was at my lowest points.”
Pelle’s rendition serves as a reminder of the healing and life-affirming power of music, a fact evident in the richness of her vocals — which remain richly entwined with the synth-heavy production. “I know it sounds cheesy, but music is the reason I’m alive; both making my own, and finding songs like these that resonate with me on a visceral level.”
Though she’s clearly adept in the music of others, Pelle has released four studio albums of her own, the last of which — titled ECHOLOCATION — arrived last year and was previewed by the singles Know Too Much and Ever.
Pelle has given birth to a sonic masterpiece in ECHOLOCATION, that traces the journey of life from cradle to grave. Armed with her trusty instruments, Pelle delivers a sonic experience that is as much about birth as it is about death.
Listen to Janna Pelle’s covers of The Boat I Row and Joanne below.