Written by Madeleine Cowley
12 Sunday 12th June 2011

Toying with ideas of identity Planningtorock manipulates gender roles within her music and visually, distorting her voice and employing headgear, facepaint, long bangs and prostheses.

It’s been five years since you released your debut Have it All, why was the follow up so long in coming?

For this record I wanted to get closer to the music, I wanted to make and develop my sound more. I made a lot of acoustic recordings in different countries, like in Iceland with Hjolli Jonsson and Pat Mahoney in New York, which was awesome - I got deep into mics and gear and different approaches too recording.

What were your sources of inspiration for W?

There were sounds and instruments that inspired W like saxophone and a lot of percussion, I collected these sounds like an archive and took them into the studio to make arrangements. 

You moved to Berlin ten years ago. How has living in Berlin as an expat influenced your sound?

I work pretty much alone so that focuses my sound living in Berlin. Shifting positions within a different culture has helped that focus and allowed me to develop an independent position for my music.

Why did you decide to self produce W?

Because I wanted to make particular music using exact sonic styles and I enjoy producing, it’s becoming a bigger part of my work.

Why did you want to manipulate your voice to the extreme?

The voice is an instrument for me and I wanted too push it to new sonic places. 

Can you tell me about the visual side of Planning to Rock? And the nose? Did you make it yourself?

The prosthetics came about because I wanted to make visual what I was pursuing in the music – I bought some nose putty at the theatre store and started adding it to my face and suddenly things started to happen, it was like the voice I’d created in the music was coming alive.

Planningtorock - The Breaks by DFA Records

How does your experimentation with gender roles translate into the music?

In a playful way I feel it goes beyond gender - you hear voices that are linked and expressive and hopefully they touch you – it’s not about him or her, it goes deeper and the connection is about feelings.

Can you tell me about your electro-opera project Tomorrow, in a Year concerning the life and work of Charles Darwin?

Olof (from the Knife) asked me back in 2008 if I’d like to write the music with him for the opera. At that time I was trying to finish my album and recording a lot so I suggested that due to the scale of the project we should bring more people on board to help - Karin and Mt. Sims joined and we wrote the piece together.

In the track 'Bolton Wanderer' from Have it All you describe your journey from childhood in the North of England to Berlin. How did it feel when the football team of the same name asked if they could play the song over the stadium tannoy before the match?

I felt honoured and a bit shy!

Why did you decide to cover Arthur Russell’s Janine on W?

A friend sent me the original version by Arthur Russell and it blew me away - the lyrics spoke to me it was like they were written for me - I love his music so much and it felt good to make this the first song I cover.


Hear more from Planningtorock at

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