The alter ego of Berlin-via-Bolton multi-instrumentalist, producer, and videographer Jam Rostron, Planningtorock fuses these talents into witty, heartfelt, and danceable expressions of Rostron's perspective as a genderqueer and non-binary artist. On 2006's Have It All, Rostron's mix of dance, glam rock, and empowering lyrics provided the foundation for the deeper dives into gender fluidity and queer sonics that they took on 2014's All Love's Legal and 2018's Powerhouse, both of which featured androgynous, pitch-shifted vocals and unpredictable yet irresistible grooves.
A classically trained violinist who began playing at age eight, Rostron grew up in a music-loving household in Bolton, Lancashire. After studying at the Blackburn College of Art in the early '90s, they moved to Berlin in 2002, where Rostron began performing as Planningtorock in the city's clubs. Planningtorock's live shows blurred the boundaries between concerts and performance art, with Rostron interacting with video characters and wearing elaborate masks and costumes to challenge gender stereotypes. Planningtorock's debut single, "Modern Love," and the Weimar Tour EP arrived early the following year and showcased Rostron's unique mix of pizzicato strings, beats, and husky vocals that could change from bluesy to quirky (or vice-versa) at a moment's notice. In 2004, Rostron issued the MP3 EP Topics on a Foreign Mind via Twisted Nerve Records, as well as the Eins EP -- which featured the underground hit "Local Foreigner" -- on their own Rostron imprint (which also released work by the Knife, the Soft Pink Truth, and Kevin Blechdom).
After signing to Chicks on Speed Records, Planningtorock released the limited-edition 7" "Changes/I Wanna Bite Ya" early in 2006 and the full-length Have It All that June. Following the album's release, Rostron focused on remix work for artists including the Knife and Telepathe. In 2010, they collaborated with the Knife and Mt. Sims on the Charles Darwin-inspired opera Tomorrow, in a Year, and served as the composer and sound designer for Bruce LaBruce's film The Bad Breast; or The Strange Case of Theda Lange. After striking up a friendship with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and appearing on the band's Sound of Silver tour, Planningtorock signed to DFA Records. The label released 2011's W, a fuller, more ambitious-sounding album that incorporated classical influences and androgynous vocals and included a cover of Arthur Russell's "Janine."
Following the album's release and subsequent tour, Rostron felt the need to address their personal life more directly in their music. In 2012, Rostron founded a studio space with the Knife's Olof Dreijer, rRoxymore's Hermione Frank, and Paula Temple. The following year, Planningtorock released the Misogyny Drop Dead EP on International Women's Day. The EP's title track also appeared on 2014's full-length All Love's Legal, which delivered danceable manifestos for transnational gender equality that featured pitch-shifted vocals and R&B-inspired grooves. The following year, Rostron composed music for the emotionality of the jaw, the first part of choreographer Ian Kaler's serialized work o.T. After completing a residency at Los Angeles' Villa Aurora, Planningtorock returned with Powerhouse, Rostron's most personal collection of songs about their experiences as a non-binary, genderqueer artist. Recorded in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berlin and featuring a collaboration with Dreijer, the album arrived in November 2018.
~ Heather Phares