"What's the worst that can happen if you're really direct?" asks Berlin-based Jam Rostron -- a.k.a. Planningtorock. Originally known as Janine, from Bolton in the U.K., Rostron is officially changing her birth name to the gender-neutral pseudonym she's used for years and releasing her new album, All Love's Legal (available on iTunes).
Focusing on issues of "gender and postcolonial, transnational feminism," the record makes her political agenda more explicit than ever. "I just thought, OK, why wasn't I more direct?" she says, referring to her playful (though notably obtuse) previous release, 2011's W. "Then I had to be honest with myself and admit there were a lot of things I feared. But, to paraphrase Nina Simone, 'no fear is the ultimate freedom.' "
That's why, three LPs in -- and with the help of some gender-blurring vocal pitching -- All Love's Legal features songs like "Patriarchy Over & Out," "Misogyny Drop Dead," and "Let's Talk About Gender Baby" (the last of which lifts its name from a lyric by Rostron's pals and frequent collaborators, the Knife). So yes, the tunes read a bit heavy and, well, direct. But with its undeniable house and disco beats (Rostron was inspired by sounds "born out of black, queer culture") and its very topical title track, All Love's Legal is less of a soapbox statement than it is a set of strange, celebratory anthems. Here, it's the politics of dancing that win out.
Listen to "Let's Talk About Gender Baby" below: