Queer electro artist/producer PlanningToRock ( aka Jam Rostron) hits Dublin’s Whelans on February 13 with her repertoire of haunting enigmatic electronica and unique visual live show.
Signed to James Murphy’s DFA label and a regular collaborator with The Knife, the Bolton bred, Berlin transplant talks to The Outmost about her departure from her trademark deconstructed house sound, her foray into the world of dance pop, what she thinks of the “mainstream music machine” and the meaning behind her politically charged new album ‘All Love’s Legal’.
‘All Love’s Legal’ is very much a loaded title, what does that mean to you?
I think it is a reaction to what is happening currently around the world – and what has been happening for years in terms of LGBT rights. I think that titles are a great opportunity to get attention. I wanted to make sure that the title would encompass what I wanted to talk about on the record. The name All Love’s Legal is obviously a reaction to love being made illegal – people are being threatened with the death penalty if they fall in love with the same gender. I wanted it to be very clearly what I thought.
The album is about issues. I talk about gender and gender discrimination. There is a track called Beyond Binary Binds which I think is very self-explanatory. Also, thinking from a queer position, there is a track called Misogyny Drop Dead. There are lots of different ,sort of, social constructs, that society suffers under that are out of date and old fashion, or never should have happened in the first place.
You are a visual artist as well as a musician, how do you combine the two?
Imagery, film, music – that is my favourite language. I think that it is a powerful and seductive language. You can do so much with it. I really enjoy putting imagery with music and incorperate it into my show. It’s you on the stage, then the albums, then you have the videos that can be a completely different representation of you. You end up with these different kinds of layers of language that are interacting. You can do a lot with it, you can be very playful.
What comes first for you, music or visuals?
I think that the music definitely comes first. The music and the lyrics determine what the content of the video would be. But I think if you are working with visuals so much, you subconsciously catalogue visuals in your mind.
What do you think of the Lady Gagas and Beyonces who are incorporating visuals into their music and taking it mainstream?
They are just such different artists. Even from an economic basis, Lady Gaga’s album had a PR budget of over $25million dollars. What I am trying to do is completely different and on very different terms.
In terms of just what the music is, I don’t think anything on ARTPOP is that interesting to be honest. I thought the first album was great. It was fun and was really good pop. She is a really good songwriter. I think that all her costumes and imagery are really fun, but this mainstream machine is just something that I really know nothing about or have any experience of – so I really don’t think that I am qualified to give a comment on it. I just operate in such a different way. For me it is much smaller, personal and I just work with my close friends.
You are in Berlin right now, many musicians are moving over there and it is becoming the music hub of Europe. Why do you think that is? What is the atmosphere over there at the moment?
There is a lot of really good music coming out of here, and a lot of great clubs. Everyone is very proactive and there are great nights on everywhere. It is a lot smaller and slower than other European cities.
In what way is it slower?
I just think that is sleepier really! There’s only 3 million people in Berlin – compared to London which is something like, 13million. That in it self automatically makes it a better place to live. It’s less stressful. There is also a great community out here! It definitely has an influence on my song writing. But honestly, I haven’t lived anywhere else in so long that I am finding it really hard to compare to any other city.
Your sound is so hard to pinpoint. How would you describe it yourself?
[Laughs] I mean for this record anyway, I really wanted it to be fun. I wanted it to be happy, and fun and quite minimal as well. I wanted catchy riffs and melodies that you will remember, and sort of, connect to. This record is not too busy and really playful and dancey.
Would you say that this next record will be very different from your older stuff?
Yeah, in a way. I still feel that this album will communicate with the last one though. All of my records are linked in some way. In terms of this one being more of a dance record, in that way it is different. The last record had more slow tracks.
And with the new direction in genre, how do you think that will translate into your live show?
We’ll all be dancing hopefully! I want the show to be fun and open, and everybody sweating – hear that Whelan’s is the place to do that in Dublin. That’s the exact venue I want to play in. We did a test gig in Brighton before Christmas and by the end of the show everyone was on stage going crazy! The lyrical content is heavy and the topics are heavy. I think it is important that we think about these topics in a space that is happy and you are with other people and it doesn’t feel like a problem. Do you know what I mean? That is what is so amazing about dance music. You spend hours and hours on the dance floor with your friends. It’s a good space.
All Loves Legal is released on Feb 18.
Pre-order ‘All Loves Legal’ on iTunes.
Find tickets for PlanningToRock in Whelans, Dublin on Feb 13.
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