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Dedicated to frontline workers, Wolf Saga releases cover of Bowie's 'Heroes'

The Toronto-based Anishinaabe musician said he wanted to honour the frontline workers, from healthcare providers to grocery store clerks, who continue to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnny Saga is an electronic artist based in Toronto. (Michael Alexander/Facebook)
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To say Johnny Saga is a David Bowie fan is a bit of an understatement.

The electro-synth pop artist, who performs as Wolf Saga, has a tattoo of Bowie on his arm, and much of his unique synth sound is influenced by the iconic singer. 
Wolf Saga's tattoo was inspired by the music video for David Bowie's song, Ashes to Ashes. (Provided by Wolf Saga)

Saga said he's wanted to do a Bowie cover for a long time, and recently released his version of the 1977 song, Heroes.

The Toronto-based Anishinaabe musician said he wanted to honour the frontline workers, from healthcare providers to grocery store clerks, who continue to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The real heroes of this pandemic who are keeping these essential services open for people," he said. 

He worked with guitarist Richard Gracious and drummer Danny Miles of July Talk to produce the song. Each musician recorded their own parts and sent the audio files to Saga, who mixed it in his home studio.

"The challenging part was working with people who were not in the same room," he said. 

For Saga, the song also carries a personal connection to his own hero, his father. 

"We were big Bowie fans. That's the whole reason I even started listening to synthesizers and pop music," he recalled.

Saga's father passed away last July after a cancer diagnosis, and spent his last months in a hospice. When the nursing staff called Saga's stepmother to find out which song the family wanted them to play as they carried him out, Saga said he could only think of one.

"The first song that came to my mind was Heroes. He loved that song and he was my hero. So it's a little tribute to him as well."

Saga said his father is still with him, both spiritually and physically. He keeps his ashes in his studio.

"He's still overseeing all the projects and things that I'm working on, so he can make sure things are sounding good."

The cover also marks a personal accomplishment for the artist who said it feels "awesome" to finally have recorded the song.

"Since I started Wolf Saga I've always wanted to cover a Bowie song," he said. 

"I hope people really relate to it and let it be their song, get them through whatever they have to get through these days during this unfortunate pandemic."

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