If anything, through the illusory character she’s created, Janine Rostron, a.k.a. Planningtorock, unearths a deeper truth, her masculine, monstrous vocals giving life to an androgynous, mythical creature designed to draw outside the lines of gender. After releasing two albums (2006’s Have It All and this year’s W), an opera (Tomorrow, In a Year with the Knife and Mt. Sims), and an array of stunning video work, she’s become even more alluringly enigmatic and deeply revelatory.
BULLETT: What secrets are important for you to keep as an artist?
PLANNINGTOROCK: My methods and my humor. But to be honest, I don’t think in terms of concealing and non-concealing. It’s more about what I give, what feels right onstage. I never feel like I’m concealing. I suppose the process of making my music is pretty private. I spend a lot of time alone.
What does hiding your gender allow you to accomplish as a performer?
I’m not hiding my gender. I’m expanding it. I’m moving it around.
How does one expand gender?
I make visual what my gender feels like to me. It’s a visible expression of gender, and I’m customizing it.
Sometimes you wear masks during your shows. Does it obstruct your ability to communicate sincerity?
Not at all. Sincerity actually comes more easily with the mask. My performances are pretty raw, very live. When I’m onstage, every part of me magnifies larger than life, and that includes my identity.
You’ve said, “The internal worlds of women are not that well represented by society.” Can you name a few contemporary female musicians who are fighting against this?