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From Frank Ocean’s revelations to Janelle Monáe’s “PYNK’ pants, the mainstream pop narrative has been noticeably queered in recent years. For Jam Rostron, the multimedia artist and DIY provocateur who performs as Planningtorock, that spirit of subversion – in gender, sexuality and politics – has been the engine of their creativity for almost two decades. Raised in the North of England but a longtime resident of Berlin, Rostron writes unabashedly radical songs that question the binary boundaries placed on our bodies. Whether restructuring their face with prosthetics or pitching their voice to discover their authentic self, Rostron’s music is an investigation into the possibility of “queering sonics": what would a non-heteronormative music even sound like? After the melodramatic pop of their debut album and the personal watershed of 2013’s alt-disco anthem “Patriarchy (Over & Out)” – not to mention writing an opera about Charles Darwin with the Knife – Rostron’s transgressive ambitions only grew bolder on their 2018 album, the emotionally honest Powerhouse. In this episode of Couch Wisdom recorded at the 2018 Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin, Rostron discussed growing up through music and art, opening up a safe studio environment in Berlin and the commodification of queer identities.
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