Desert Tundra


Ian Imhof


Desert Tundra is the Alt-Rock alter ego of Virginia native, now Los Angeles based, singer and guitarist Janet Jelena. Bringing together a strong sense of pop, coupled with rock and roll bravado, Desert Tundra doesn’t let the genre define her content. Setting out to confront the anomalies that go with living in the moment her songs span the range of human emotion from unrequited love to hope, anger and loneliness, in addition to issues not usually broached in the genre like body image. On the surface, her songs may seem like your standard rock anthems but at their core they mirror real life closer than they appear.

Jelena grew up in the small town of Herndon, VA, a northern suburb of Washington, DC. As a child of the 90’s she turned to rock, punk, and Riot Grrrl icons like Hole, Bikini Kill, and Le Tigre for their message and passion. From a purely guttural and emotional standpoint both Metallica and Megadeth resonated with her as a teen due to their speed and anger. Her love of music continued to grow and at the age of 15 she picked up her first guitar, a used Fender Stratocaster that her mother bought for her. Soon after that, realizing her daughter’s passion should continue to be encouraged and refined, her mother enrolled her in vocal lessons.

“I told my mom that I wanted to be a rockstar, and she told me "maybe you should start out as a pebble." It took me years to understand what that really meant,” Jelena recalled.

After various starts and stops, Jelena settled on the path to becoming a solo performer, taking on the moniker of Desert Tundra and forming a backing band of local players. A chance encounter led her to meeting Dan Reynolds and Ben McKee of Imagine Dragons before playing a show in DC where she took this opportunity to discuss with them what it takes to be a band on the brink. She would take many things to heart from that conversation including the notion that the right producer could help make all the difference. She immediately started researching producers in the area and found Jim Ebert, who would go on to produce her first three EP’s and become not only a mentor but a kind of father figure to her. After the release of the third Desert Tundra EP, Jelena started plotting her to move to California, which at the time was against the wishes of her main supporter, her mother. But Ebert told her that that if she truly wanted to be a rockstar, then Los Angeles was be the place to be. So her mind was set, and with only a little bit of money saved in her bank account the cross country journey began.

Sleeping in her car and staying in sketchy hotels to save money, Jelena hit the ground running when she arrived in Los Angeles, quickly putting together a band of SoCal players using the site Bandmix. When her mother found out that she was living in a small one-bedroom apartment with three guys she decided to once again help her daughter pursue her calling. “This was a huge turning point for me,” Jelena says, “She told me that "if this is really what you want to do then I'll help you." She is my number one fan, and I will always be grateful to her for that.”

Now with a little more breathing room, a solid backing band and nothing in her way to stop her, Jelena is able to completely focus her time and creativity on Desert Tundra and plans on taking it to the next level and beyond. For the future of Desert Tundra, Jelena sees only limitless potential. “I can take Desert Tundra and go as far as I want,” she says, “This is only the beginning, and the best is yet to come.”

Press Releases

04.21.17//Desert Tundra Takes the Scene By Storm with New EP, 'Something Fierce'

Desert Tundra Takes the Scene By Storm with New EP, 'Something Fierce'

Los Angeles, CA – Alternative rock band, Desert Tundra released their latest EP, Something Fierce, a collection of gripping rock anthems that hold a deep and touching meaning. Front woman, Janet Jelena, based the new tracks off her personal adventures while living in Los Angeles over the last year. With all the ups and downs Jelena has faced, this EP is a symbol of hope, letting her audience know that if she can be happy again, anyone can. Something Fierce is now available to stream or download worldwide.

From high-energy rock tracks to intense alternative ballads, Something Fierce has got something for everyone. Produced by John Bender (Paramore, My Chemical Romance), the eclectic EP is rich with raw honesty and emotion giving the listeners a vivid view inside the situations that Jelena was going through with each song. The first single and title track, “Something Fierce” embraces a new romantic relationship and all of the excitement that comes along with it. “It’s my favorite song off the EP hands down. It brings back great memories,” says Jelena. “Not to mention, it is always the best part of any relationship. That pure, raw and euphoric feeling of falling in love.” Other tracks like “The Fall” and “Bar 20” showcase despairing feelings related to breakups and depression. “This EP represents a year of my life living in Hollywood. I've learned a lot and right now I am cultivating my relationship with myself and my alter-ego, Desert Tundra.”

Long before her alter ego, Desert Tundra, was created, Janet Jelena was just a kid living in a small town in Virginia with a passion for rock and punk. As a determined 15-year-old, Jelena picked up her first guitar and was soon enrolled in vocal lessons. After years of playing in the local scene, a chance encounter with Dan Reynolds and Ben McKee of Imagine Dragons would become the push she needed to get her music career on track. Jelena would team up with producer Jim Ebert for her first three EPs before moving to Los Angeles and recruiting a backing band. With nothing to hold her back, Jelena sees only limitless potential for the future of Desert Tundra.

Something Fierce is a captivating and infectious collection of songs that people can relate to on multiple levels. With powerful lyrics and memorable musicality, this EP is an explosive piece of work. You can now stream or download Something Fierce from your favorite digital service. To follow Desert Tundra’s journey, visit