Planningtorock is the sound of the future
June 20, 2022
March 13, 2023
Our very cute Q&A we had over Zoom from Planningtorock’s home on an island in Estonia to celebrate the release of their big, bright, shinning EP Gay Dreams Do Come True.
Planningtorock is everything we want in an artist/DJ/producer.
Jam Rahuoja Rostron’s - AKA Planningtorock - journey began as an art student working with video, then later taking a leap and moving to Berlin, where their music and productions skill could burst out of the cocoon and butterfly into the world.
They’ve since recorded four albums, four EPs, a handful of joyous singles, they’ve soundtracked a Chanel show and now remixed a Gaga track on her latest remix album. They composed and recorded most of their new EP - Gay Dreams Do Come True - in a wood cabin on an island off of Estonia surrounded by two cats, two horses, a dog and lots of love.
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Born out of gay electronic pop music Jam identifies as non-binary, is married and we had the absolute pleasure to speak to them over Zoom from an island off of Estonia about their favourite spots to DJ, living on an island and the moment that really made her mom really proud.
Coming through art school and video work, what kickstarted Planningtorock as the producer and musician that we know today?
It’s a good question… it sounds cheesy but music has always been important to me and as a kid it was the place that I escaped to. At the same time I started making video and then thinking maybe I can make music a bit. One day I’m going to release these early demos…
Moving to Berlin was the big catalyst for me. I moved there in 1999. Peaches was a round, there was so much avant quart punk-y things going on, people taking what they had a making amazing shows and and I think it blew me away and gave me an opportunity to try.
I had no idea who I was…there was so much I had to learn about myself. Berlin gave me space and inspiration to take music seriously, but I had been making music since I was 17, but very privately, almost like a hobby, and had day jobs…
What were some of your early inspirations in music?
When I was a teenager growing up in the north of England, everybody was listening to The Smiths, and I was listening to Erasure. Gay music. Gay melodies, electronic pop. I remember thinking why does everyone listen to the Smith’s, it’s so depressing? I had the biggest crush on Andy Bell bac then...I loved the fashion, Yazu, Orchestral Maneouvers in the Dark…very dramatic, minimalist, dance electronic pop. Bronski Beat.
I remember seeing them on Top of the Pops and being blown away. I grew up on the ass of a village, a tiny town, I met my first gay friend when I was 20. I lived a long time without having a sense of who I was and finding my people.
We both grew up in small towns too, and often it’s the gay music that speaks to you and connecting you…
With fashion as well. I also like New Order as well. Quiet raw, poppy electronic music.
Speaking of fashion, you’ve done collabs with fashion houses like Chanel recently… what is the starting point or inspiration behind those?... For me it’s always the walking that inspires the mixes…
The Chanel commission came directly through Michel Gaubert… lifelong friend of Karl Lagerfeld and also did sound design for Chanel. He liked my first record and used my music a few times, so I just wrote him and said “if you ever need any music let met know” and he was like “well, actually…”
We had 10 days to do it. That’s the thing about Fashion…it was a challenge in a very perverse way. Michel gave me a brief and basically used the soundtrack to the film Donkey Skin as inspiration very dramatic and lots of strings. Then there was an 80’s art pop thing… I used that as a backdrop.
It was really fun to make music for a fashion show because it’s not about me in that moment, which is a nice break. And from a producer perspective, it’s a real pleasure to see what I’m capable of, I love it.
And it’s money. I’m very lucky that I can live off of what I do. I have to be careful, I’m not loaded or anything, but i’m very lucky to have a job that I love.
As DJs ourselves, there’s this glamorous idea of it, with releases and art work and touring, but we still need those money gigs to fuel our lives. Otherwise we’re regular people in our apartments…
I also have a lot of musician friends...I made money out of touring and now the biggest part of your income is gone and it’s no joke. It’s crazy how the music industry makes so much money and how the people making the music don’t make anything. It’s cruel. I’m making so much work all the time, but all the time breaking even. I’m the lucky one that can just about live off of what I do, there are friends of mine that couldn’t and had to take a job on. It’s real.
There are people who have no choice because they’re artists.
Absolutely, they’ll fight for it, it’s unbelievable. Some of my friends were on Instagram like “I have no money, I can’t pay my rent, can you please send me some money so I can make some music to live…” I think it shocked a lot of people… the fantasy that you have a massive loft apartment… like, no, I have 45 square metres to work with.
Tell us about Chromatica and how that happened. The gays are losing their shit.
They’re not alone. I’m also losing my shit. Basically I met Blood Pop ions ago in Berlin before he became who he is not. He’s such a cutie, such a massive being he’s like 6”4 or something he’s a giant. We were in some kind of club and he came up to me and said “I really love Planningtorock” this massive cutie, and I was like, who the hell is this? And we stayed in contact ever since. He went on to work with Lady Gaga and become this incredible producer as well… I made a remix for Romi and he wrote me and said he really loved it “I’m working on this project… would you…” and I was like “don’t even would you… of course I will!”
Getting Lady Gaga’s vocals, holy shit, so beautiful, sometimes I would just listen to them in a loop. The best part was telling my mom because my mom’s a huge lady gaga fan.
I’m like “mom, I made this remix for lady gaga” and she’s like “ah! OMG, I love Lady Gaga. I do love you, but I love Lady Gaga.”
I had to pinch myself, but also wanting to do something really good, but also something that I really liked. Whenever I make music I just make what I like. I was given this advice a long time ago by a friend who said “if you’re going to make music just make something you really like because if you like it, somebody else is gonna like it and if nobody else likes it, at least you like it.”
It’s such a weird thing when artists say “I can’t bare to listen to my own music”, I’m just like “if you don’t like it, why make anyone else listen to it?” a lot of the songs I’ve written are about my own biography and they’ve pulled me through a lot of stuff and made me understand and grow and learn.”
Tell us about the EP!
My wife’s parents live on an island off the Estonian coast line and it’s tiny and uninhabited and the minute we landed there they put us in lockdown. We couldn’t leave. I was like OMG, I have so much work today, I was still doing the Chanel stuff… and my wife’s family built a farm house out of logs, and above that there was a room and they said to build a studio up there. It was all wood, great for acoustics, I was sleep in the main house, Rina my wife would make a little fire in there because it was cold and this is wehre I wrote most of the EP.
And obviously love was the inspiration…
Totally. It’s kind of dedicated to Rina basically.
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Tell us about the artwork.
Joyce Lee, a fantastic illustrator living in Seoul Korea. It’s so dirty and pretty, who of my favourite words. Everything is hand-drawn. We fleshed out ideas and then we finalized them. For me it was really important, especially with Gay Dreams Do Come True… the EP is about myself and my wife, but also wanted to share about my community and my friends. We’re never alone in that sense, our friends really help us out, really helped me out, so we made a portrait series. For Kiddie Smile’s EP we made a portrait of my friend Krishna and their boyfriend Ren, and then for Atrix remix we made a portrait of my friend Amber and their partner Mad Kate as she likes to go by.
The artwork for the new track… a non-binary boob balloon, hell yeah! Bring it!
Have you found since lock down and connecting through the internet, have you found your online queer community has grown?
For me when I was writing Powerhouse, my online community was so important to me and helped me so much … queer friends sharing stories and supporting me it was so crucial. I know that the internet and social media has a lot of bad sides, but we have to also admit there are good sides as well.
Toronto is still coming out of the Pandemic in terms of nightlife and dancing together in general, but one thing I experienced this summer was Pride in Montreal, and all the queer kids who took it back and we danced in the woods, in a field, abandoned buildings… it was beautiful. All the kids had were so gendre fluit, so friendly, so cool, it was amazing to see the community come to life… are you looking forward to this again? The dancing community?...
So much has happened in my life. Me and Rina met in early 2019, fell in love, I left Berlin, moved, and then Covid happened...The fun thing about putting my life into my music is when I do it live, I’m sharing it live with everybody. This is what I’ve been up to. I cannot wait…
Her Heart is my Home now 29.10.
Artwork by Sasha Katz pic.twitter.com/38F94OmRsn
— planningtorock (@planningtorock) October 25, 2021
But also we’ve had to communicate online, I just can’t wait to all be back together again. I went to a wedding last week in the middle of nowhere and so many people were so rusty and didn’t know how to small talk or communicate.
There’s so much we took for granted. It’s been so hard for the queer community especially, we depend on it so much… in lockdown, we didn’t really get to see our queer mates. Rina and I would talk about it. She’s a maxillofacial surgeon, and her workspace is quite straight, and I’m working away on my own in the studio and we’re deprived of queer context. The world is so straight, so straight all the time, so we need it.
Key Change in Gay Dreams Come True - where did this come from!?
THANK YOU for bringing that up (laughs) I’ve longed to do a key change my entire fucking life. And finally, i was like, this is the song to do it. It’s so high for me, I’m terrified to do it life. I literally need to stand up, undo my jeans it’s the only way I can get those notes. I’m so proud of that key change.
You can only imagine what that’s gonna be like live! Have some helium ready for me.
ok, Lightning round! Favourite setting to play a DJ set?
When if your favourite type of DJ set up/party to play?
I like afternoon DJ sets because I’m such a day person, all my DJ friends love the night, I like to be in bed by 10:30, always have. A nice outdoor afternoon.
My favourite gig I ever did was at Disco Loco in London and it finished by 6pm and that’s my kind of gig. It was a kids festival also, they’re hardcore.
What is your favourite room inside the Berghain?
I like the panorama bar because they have a coffee machine there. There’s nothing more civilized that sitting with an espresso inside Panorama Bar.
What is your favourite breakfast food?
Breakfast is my favourite food. My favourite meal of the day, I like a traditional English, vegetarian if possible.
All About Love (Jam got up and showed it to us from their bookshelf) by Belle Hooks. It’s one of those books that’s endlessly giving.
Last TV show you’ve watched?
I’m currently watching Sex Education because my friend Krishan is writing for them. He’s amazing, I love it.
Do you have any pets?
Two cats Julia and Robert and Trixie the dog, she’s 14 yrs old and blind and deaf, and my wife has two horses.