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A Meeting Of Minds: A Listen to PlanningtoChanel by Planningtorock

Photo by Goodyn Green

Is anything simply black and white in life? Not often. But in terms of fashion, unequivocally. I’m talking about the instantly recognisable sheer class of French House Chanel. Last March, in the otherworldly, glass-topped setting of Grand Palais in Paris, the audience were effortlessly transfixed by the Autumn/Winter 2020 show. The approach was straightforward: surreal lighting, and paired-back sets topped with sensual misty air. As the theme was French cinema from the 70s and 80s, it signalled a need for a slightly relaxed attitude from the models where they chatted, smiled, and at times giggled. Solidarity was the theme that arose. For this fresh vision, a requirement was a modern, innovative soundtrack. Cue Planningtorock. Cue PlanningtoChanel.

Berlin seems an ideal base for the Bolton born artist Planningtorock, also known as Jam Rostron, who is not only a visionary creative but also a socially conscious, fiercely proud non-binary, genderqueer musician too. You can list their hats in the world of electronica: writer, composer, producer, and director, where their touch has enhanced operas, film scores, remixes, and more. Four albums deep, their left-field dance music is spelling binding in itself, but, especially in last release Powerhouse, expresses a personal and biographical look at their world.

Karl Lagerfeld was a known supporter of Jam and had included pieces of their work before. This time the urge was to dig deeper and for Rostron to collaborate with sound director Michel Gaubert resulting in the slickly produced EP of three cohesive songs and their maxi versions. Of this Planningtorock states,

I love working with Michel. He’s a such legend with a brilliant ear for music and a very big heart! Creating the music for the Chanel show was such an exciting challenge. From the inspiring references that Michel gave me I set out to make music that had a sense of urgent elegance that was then punctuated with dramatic pitched queer voices driving the drama.”

Strings and Chanel complement each other; this is where our journey commences with Drama Darling. But there is a twist. Running throughout the whole soundtrack is usually pitched voices that are communicating with each other in an exceptional language. The beat comes in with the string riff repeating, creating a cool simplicity. Check out the accompanying video for the track where you will observe the most sophisticated speaker that I have ever come across. Jam elucidates,

“Usually when I direct a video for a Planningtorock song I know what visual I wanna go for because my songs are about me and my story. Drama Darling was different. This track was not about me but rather about me facilitating Michel Gaubert’s musical vision for a new Chanel show. So I came up with the idea of the PlanningtoChanel speaker. It seemed to encapsulate precisely all the elements of lovely this collaboration. My music, Michel’s sonic vision and Chanel’s iconic chic.”

We come onto Jam Fam where there's energy in bounds, but the flow means that it could be part two to Drama Darling. The fashion brand is unquestionably classic but manages to be future thinking and modern, which is why Jam Fam is a supreme fit. The disco loving song is retro yet futuristic. Currently, I’ve heard it aired in a number of mixes where it lifts the atmosphere like a little firefly; it’s massively fun. From Tallinn With Love presents a deeper techno feel with a unique brass sounding effect. You can unpeel multiple layers, but the strings tie it together in a neat bow. In the second part of the release, you receive the bonus of the three tracks in their extended state; more to relish.

Jam is graciously donating a portion of the earnings made from all future releases to anti-racist organizations. Starting with PlanningtoChanel, there will be a donation to the Marsha P Johnson Institute, which advocates on behalf of black Trans people in the US. The collaboration with Chanel is forward thinking, a union of two art forms confidently moving forward together hand in hand. Planningtorock marches to their drum, and we are filled with anticipation to join their next inventive beat.

Article by Beverley Knight

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