Christian Keller met Jam Rostron aka Planningtorock in Vienna

Gender and Patriarchy are only a few topics the English musician and performance artist is interested in: A talk about music, education, art and feminism.

  • PlanningtoRock Foto © PlanningtoRock

By Christian Keller

Tonight you performed at SYNÆSTHESIA3 and the first thing one is always being struck by at your performances is a certain lightness and humour of it even though the subject-matter of your songs has to do with issues of patriarchy and gender.

JR: When I started to record the last album, “All Love’s legal”, I knew that there were heavy issues that I wanted to discover and investigate for myself. And I think that if you make work that is confrontational and closed, where you make statements and no one can have any access to it, it is not going to go anywhere. You can be opinionated and critically thinking but you also have to remain open so that you might even change your mind about your previous ideas later on. So I really wanted to have that feeling in the record and with the lyrics. So I am saying particular things but when there is this space for anybody else's feelings so that they can own it for themselves.

The possibilities of opening up are certainly to be encouraged within the structures of our society but are such poles of orientation as male or female role models and given norms and regulations are not also helpful or even the basis for social encounter?

JR: It is so complex. Every individual has an economic circumstance, class, culture, the whole baggage and so everybody is very different. And of course for some people it is even hard to have the time to think about gender because they simply cannot afford it. They have got like three jobs. But for people who are privileged to have time to think about these things and discuss it…It is interesting what you say about norms though because about ten years ago when I first started making music there was this one track on my first record where I tried to talk a little bit about feminism. This was one of my early attempts. And then in interviews I tried to bring up feminism and they were like 'uh, no, no, not the f word'. For years it was like this and now it is totally fine. So this for example, if that becomes a normality then let's embrace it. But it is also about the language around it because the language constitutes the thinking process and the language offers the accessibility. That is basically what happened to me. Through fortunate friendships and also just reading a lot and then I suddenly found the vocabulary to put the words to the shit that was happening, to your own experiences.
The last record was really for myself. I have been thinking about this stuff and been encountering it on a daily basis. And I feel like music is just such a fantastic, very fast language and I can use and I can explore those issues with it.

Those issues you tackle with your music seem to have changed or at least their terms have changed over the course of the years. For example, in the early days of feminism it had been thought of as a very confrontational and nearly aggressive female interference with society. So the role and the liberation of women seemed to be the only and principal element. And nowadays we even include the role of an accepted and respected male component as an essential and equal integral of the term feminism. Feminism has adjusted itself from emancipation to mutual equality.

JR: It is very important that people identified as male can definitely have the agency to say I am a feminist. And concerning the public opinion on feminism over the years: when you say the early feminism was about women's anger and aggression you could also say it was about will. But then, I know, you also have white feminism and women of colour being excluded from feminism. And that still happens. So thank goodness for Beyoncé basically owning feminism, being on a massive stage with feminism slapped on the back and saying feminism is for women of all colour. So she is such a great role model in that way.

It is funny with gender though because if you say masculinity and femininity and then you go on to think about transgenderism… - which I personally feel is one of the most important movements in our society in terms of challenging notions of gender because it is such a construct. And still, this split sets of gender is a reality. When you look at all the articles of parents, of people having kids and suddenly they go shopping and it is all just carts full of blue or carts full of pink. That is just nuts, this sort of fascist like conditioning…

Regarding your collaboration with Ian Kaler: to what extent do your joint projects use that same approach to the previously mentioned topics or is it just a completely different line of work? In other words, what is the quintessence of your work together?

JR: I am very lucky in that I have been approached quite often by choreographers to work with them. It has never worked out though or I never felt like it was my thing but after touring “All love's legal” I wanted to take a break and then Ian approached me. And I liked him instantly and I liked his work and I thought this is interesting. So it came at the right time for me. I had done three solo records and this opera [“Tomorrow, In a Year”] and it felt like a lot. And so at this time I felt ready to just make music and to facilitate something else, somebody else's subject matter in a way. And it has been amazing so far even though it has been just a year of working together. And we have built these pieces from nothing. Literally like in a room together and let's just see what can happen. And I really learned a lot. It sounds a bit nerdy but I enjoyed just focusing on my musical skills. For example, I had to live jam. For “emotionality of the jaw”, the first piece of the series I invited my friend Houeida Hedfi who is a percussionist and musician from Tunis. And that was new to me because just jamming together live was new to me. I had never really done this before. I always recorded so much on my own, in the solitude. So it was really fun to engage in something that was not about me and my music but about someone else's subject matter.

Unlike many other musicians you never label yourself with a sort of corporate identity or any other expectable consumption-oriented attribute that would tag your personality, genre etc.

JR: I think some of the musicians like to do that to themselves because they have their musician heroes. And they also like to style themselves into that too. If you probably ask them they will tell you a list of names and then you can see some similarities or anyway that is where they see themselves going. But those are musicians that very consciously go into music with an idea of – not that they do not have any integrity but they are very clear of that they are a commodity. They are in business. For me it was very different. I got kicked out of school when I was fourteen. So I do not have any education. Literally no GCSEs or any other exam certificates. Basically I have hustled my way all along. There is me and my sister. She is autistic. I come from a working class family. So I was not brought up with a sense of entitlement. So I have always been like let us just hope things work out. And so I feel really bloody lucky when things work out for me. When I was in Berlin I was working in a museum, I was doing the lighting that was my job. And I was making music quietly on my own. But then I was fortunate to meet other musicians and so I started thinking: okay, this could actually be a career of some sort. But so I had to be super autodidact and this idea of becoming a star or any of that sort never occurred to me. And up to this date I do not think this is something that interests me. I love performing and I love audiences and sharing with them but it could happen that I actually stop making music at one point.

To this day the regular middle-class people still tend to define one another through the inquiry of what is one's profession. Did this ever happen to you with your family?

JR: It took me a while to know I was from a class until I was in a situation where people told me I had a dialect. It is not there anymore because I have been here too long but my life was not planned out. My dad was super working class. It was more like we survived. You know, that is what you do. You simply do not have this sense of entitlement. I cannot put it any other way. I am amazed when you meet people from middle class or the upper middle class and they tell you 'Yes, I am going to do this and then this and then I do that and that…' It is just super naïve. It astounds me even now that I am older. But it took me years to put the words to it, to find the books and the people who actually write about this stuff. I am currently reading a lot of bell hooks, a really amazing autodidact and thinker. She is a woman of colour so she writes a lot about racism and social constructs. There is a lot of things that she writes about that really resonate in me in terms of class. If you are working-class, you are always coming from the most subjective perspective. You are more emotional and not as detached. But I am just building up this massive tension here [laughs]…Anyways, bell hooks is a very interesting writer and I am reading a lot about her at the moment.

Going back to your music: one cannot help but think of your music as a certain play with intuition. Would you yourself refer to your way of making music as partly naïve?

JR: It sometimes happens that I do not question my motives so much but there was something very deliberate and strategic about “All love's legal”. The lyrics and title for example. They are really, really minimal. And they were kind of a play with slogans, like “Misogyny Drop Dead” which I still think is hilarious as a title. They are all kind of funny but intense. And they are not only simple but also basically all I want to say. I just want Misogyny to drop dead and Patriarchy to get out of the way.

Still, writing the album was a very personal breakthrough because I had finished “W” and there I had really tried to do something political and it failed. No one got it because I had been fanning about with being poetic or whatever. So I was like: Okay, this is not working. And I really had a moment where I thought what do I want to use music for. Because I can make albums and they all sound nice but so fucking what, there is lots of nice music out there. Then I set myself an exercise which was to write something about patriarchy - because at that time I was reading a lot about patriarchy as a construct – and how can I do that in a way where it is open and not pushing people away. And I asked myself what do I want with patriarchy. And I said I want it to get out of the way. It is in the way of our futures. So that is what I wrote. And though its sound very, very simple, it was an important and crucial exercise for me. So I had worked out a way to say something that was very, very direct but somehow not in your face at the same time.

Lastly, what is your opinion on all the contemporary institutions of art and high culture? And how do you respond to the idea of the museum or theatre as an isolated space solely dedicated to artistic realisation?

JR: Museums are such strange places. I was recently in the portrait gallery. I took Ian there when we were in London. I said: Let's go there, let's check it out. I almost vomited. They are so in denial of their colonist past and the history of the empire. I was embarrassed. I thought it was disgusting. But I find it so tough right now with all that art industry. And I think why are they heating all this art when there is asylum seekers that have nowhere to stay. And they are just heating all this shit. Who gives a damn about this art. Who is this art for? I really wonder about that; the hierarchy, the elitism and the business in art. But also the history of art: that folk and craft was always looked down upon and still is. Who is deciding what the quality of it is? I have a lot of artist friends and no one really says anything, it is really mostly about who is buying and if they have got a gallerist or two and maybe one in New York. Or artists just whinging that they got no stipendium or whatever. So I ask myself what is all of this about and who is it for? I think about that in music too. I wonder who is this music for? And then who has the time to be culturally productive? I mean, I just about live off what I do which I feel is a personal achievement. I have somehow managed to do something that no one else can do because in a way I am doing it. But sometimes I think I should be teaching or working in a hospital or do something that has a bit more purpose…big topics [laughs]. You have started it with your questions!

Veröffentlicht am 24.03.2016, von Gastbeitrag in English Reviews

Dieser Artikel wurde 3861 mal angesehen.

Kommentare zu "Jam Rostron aka Planningtorock"

    Bitte melden Sie sich an, um diesen Beitrag kommentieren zu können: Login | Registrierung




    Martin Schläpfer zum neuen Direktor des Wiener Staatsballetts berufen
    Veröffentlicht am 22.06.2018, von Pressetext


    Kor’sia mit Berner Tanzpreis ausgezeichnet
    Veröffentlicht am 18.06.2018, von tanznetz.de Redaktion


    Stuttgarter Ballett möchte ""Junge Choreografen"-Abend retten
    Veröffentlicht am 14.06.2018, von Pressetext



    Vom 15. bis 21. Juni 2018 lädt das Staatsballett Berlin zur Ballettwoche ein und präsentiert fünf Produktionen an sieben Tagen auf drei Bühnen.

    Als Abschluss der Intendanz von Nacho Duato wird innerhalb von einer Woche die ganze Bandbreite des Repertoires gespielt, das von klassischen Handlungsballetten bis zu zeitgenössischen Arbeiten reicht.

    Veröffentlicht am 15.06.2018, von Anzeige



    „Onegin“ beim Bayerischen Staatballett
    Veröffentlicht am 07.02.2018, von Karl-Peter Fürst


    Alicia Amatriain tanzte 2003 in „Lulu“ die Titelrolle – und jetzt erneut 2018
    Veröffentlicht am 18.06.2018, von Marlies Strech


    Richard Siegals Ballet of Difference mit "On Body" in der Münchner Muffathalle
    Veröffentlicht am 05.03.2018, von Miriam Althammer



    Die Palucca Hochschule für Tanz Dresden zeigt in der Semperoper ihre beste Leistungsschau seit Jahren

    Veröffentlicht am 01.06.2018, von Rico Stehfest


    Ben Van Cauwenbergh feiert Jubiläum

    Veröffentlicht am 17.06.2018, von Marieluise Jeitschko


    Martin Schläpfer zum neuen Direktor des Wiener Staatsballetts berufen

    Veröffentlicht am 22.06.2018, von Pressetext


    "Ballett-Akademie en scène" im Prinzregententheater München

    Veröffentlicht am 10.06.2018, von Sabine Kippenberg


    "100°C" des Semperoper Ballett Dresden

    Veröffentlicht am 04.06.2018, von Boris Michael Gruhl