The third Planningtorock album, All Love's Legal, is exactly the kind of tether-testing, mind-opening and ideas-instilling record 2014 needs. While you could say the Berlin-based Boltonite is doing no more than sermonising to her own choir, Jam Rostron's project packs concise lyrical nerve and musical gusto that serve the gender politics and social manifesto with which she busies herself as a nifty pill to swallow.

The underlying theme here is straight-forward and is best summarised in the lyrics to the title-track: "all love is legal/you can't illegalise love/love is the one thing that gives life its purpose." This notion is addressed to any entity or tenet that seeks to wage a war on what Planningtorock considers to be basic human rights. And the timing, you have to admit, is impeccable: this record is coming out in an era where certain countries treat homosexuality as their biggest enemy and, even here, a UKIP counsellor actually attributes inclement weather conditions to the government's decision to legalise gay marriage. Planningtorock taps into these current affairs armed with a disco beat and a few ideas of her own.

"What is happening in the world right now is frightening and shocking," Rostron says, "but in a way it's always been that way. It feels like suddenly things are coming to the surface and there's a kind of awareness that has happened. I'm not sure why that is and I also find it amazing that this record and title seem to be coming together at a time when that awareness is occurring. It was completely unconscious, actually, it wasn't a planned thing, in that sense. It's a bloody interesting time for global politics, isn't it? And also for very important social issues and how society is dealing with them. When you look at the whole Pussy Riot thing and how, ultimately, the Russians decided to release them and how that actually ties in with the Olympics, you see how everything is so strategic. It's a really exciting time, a really scary time. To an extent, I guess it depends on what communities you move in, but I feel we are living in a time with hyper awareness of these issues."

Over the last couple of years, Rostron has concerned herself with gender identity and gender politics. How people treat each other on the basis of their gender and how actions are perceived in conjunction with it are matters which have affected her and her friendship group. 'Human Drama', the mighty single she's chosen to launch the album with, very quickly gets you humming along to "gender's just a lie," the track's through-line hook.

Another way of addressing this in her music has been to intentionally pitch-shift and distort her natural singing voice so that it is difficult for the listener to determine whether they are listening to a man or a woman. At times, her processed vocals are reminiscent of Ricky Barrow from The Aloof and often there's an altogether other-worldliness to their essence.

She recently further corroborated her interest in gender politics by changing her first name from Janine to Jam, as it is less gender specific. On her previous album, W, as well as on last year's single, 'Misogyny Drop Dead', there are various references to 'Jam' and I ask her how the decision to adopt it as her first name came about. "Well, people close to me and friends have been calling me Jam for a very long time so it's a big part of my life", she says. "And then I also wanted to have a name that wasn't gender-defined so I just thought this is a time to go public with that. It was quite strange when people would refer to me as Janine because no one really calls me that. It felt a bit like I was an imposter or something. Everybody calls me Jam, Jammy, Jammers or whatever and not Janine so I thought, ok, I'm just going to incorporate it. I think it fits perfectly because a big part of my motivation was to have a non-gender defined name." Which underlines some of the concepts behind the new album, I suggest. "Exactly!"

And what about the act name, Planningtorock? "It's a very old name," she chuckles. "When I first started making music, which was fucking years ago - I was literally about fifteen or sixteen and I was making music with a friend and we were trying to think of a name. My friend came up with Little Wing and I came up with Planningtorock, because that is what, at the time, I thought we were doing. We spent a lot of time on our own together, if that makes sense, hidden and planning to eventually rock. I didn't think of the word 'rock' so much. And then I went solo and started doing my own thing and really liked the name so I just kept it. I mean, it's really daft, you know, but on the other hand it's just taken its own identity."

For Rostron All Love's Legal holds a new direction and a new consciousness, which she feels was absent from her previous albums. She attributes the change to, 'Patriarchy Over & Out', a track she wrote after finishing touring W. "The whole thing was a great experience but left me feeling a bit disillusioned, actually," she tells me. "I was disillusioned with making music, with what music was for me and what I could do with music. There were certain things that I had intended to do with W which just didn't happen for me. Like trying to deal with certain issues - political issues. And I didn't do it directly because at the time I didn't think it was the way to do it. Or I didn't find the way. So a lot of things sort of went under the surface, it was perhaps all too ambiguous. I went too much around the houses, I think."

I ask what she considers to be the mot direct she actually got on W. "Well, I just don't think I did at any point," she says after mulling it over for a moment. "I hinted at a lot of things but I just didn't get direct at all. In retrospect, I was quite disappointed in my - I wouldn't say mistake, but I think in my misunderstanding. I kind of think I missed an opportunity. I was in London and I remember being with my friend and going 'fuck, that didn't work'. I was thinking - what can I do with music? What's the purpose of making it? There so much music being made nowadays, which is brilliant, but there's an absolute saturation of it so what can I do with it? There was also a feeling that some of my real life was not connecting with my music. Which is kind of crazy because it's all I do. So I really started thinking about issues which I'd been thinking about in my real life, whatever that is. And patriarchy was definitely one of them. So I just took that topic and thought I'd try and write a song about it."

How did you go about that, I ask. "I considered, lyrically, how can I attempt that? And I thought, ok, write about patriarchy itself, what do you want? And I just want it to go away. I want it to get out of the way. It spoils things, it ruins the world. It's a really stupid fucking idea. Always was. Let's get rid of it. And that's how I started and it was the most breakthrough moment for me. I mean, it took me a while to get the lyrics tight enough so that, you know, it felt like it was direct but not confrontational or hostile. I also think that titles are great opportunities. They are like mini-statements - headlines - and they can provoke. So, yeah, I had written that and also developed Human Level [her own label] as a platform and made the decision that I wanted to cut out a space to release my music on my own terms. It's very hard to do it that way but it felt very important. So that all came together with that 'Patriarchy' 12" single."

With Rostron, a conversation is a discussion. This must be the first interview I have done where the artist I am speaking to canvasses me for my opinion on the issues I have quizzed them about. At several junctions during our meeting, Rostron wants to know what I think about what we're discussing, with genuine interest and an attentiveness to the response. But she also often refers to conversations and discussions she has with her circle of friends, where ideas are explored and notions are dissected. She is not a unilateral preacher, unanimous in her own opinions, but an interactionalist, who is open to other's views and suggestions. This, for her, is the only way to learn and grow. And so, I ask her who was the first person that she shared her new direction with. "I have some particular friendships whereby we share our thoughts and think about these issues, especially gender," she replies. "But I'm just trying to think if there was a particular person and - to be honest with you - I think I did it a little bit in secrecy. Not deliberately so but more in the sense of: I have to work this out for myself, first, otherwise I'm not making music anymore."

And after that? "Then I remember telling my friends Olof [Dreijer] and also Hermione [Frank, aka rRoxymore] that I wanted to start this label and that I wanted to make this 12". Hermione plays in my live band so we had a strong friendship already and I really like her electronic music and she was kind of trying to find a way to put it out so I said: why don't we start with that? We can split a 12": [rRoxymore's] 'Wheel of Fortune' on one side and 'Patriarchy Over and Out' on the other."

At the time, Olof and his sister, Karin, were readying the release of The Knife's Shaking The Habitual, which also deals with - amongst other things - gender, so these ideas must have been particularly close to his heart. "Yeah and I think Olof thought it was a natural progression for me as well," Rostron nods. "We were all talking about these issues and about ways to change and explore issues that affect our everyday lives, gender being one of them. It was natural sharing, I guess. These things were running in parallel and also overlapping. Olof and I have a studio together in Berlin where we have made this space, two studio rooms and a social room, where we can work and also help other friends who want to make music and work there. We wanted to create an environment, a safe space where you can talk about these issues and support each other and give each other confidence."

'Patriarchy Over & Out' was followed by the stupendous and simultaneously stupefying 'Misogyny Drop Dead', which was released on International Women's Day last year. On it she sings: "de-genderize all intellect/funky idea, touch more than that/misogyny drop dead and dump the script." Sonically, it is one of the most bonkers tracks to emerge in recent times, yet something about it draws you in for repetitive listens. Flitting and flatting between funky house and an African tribal vibe, you don't exactly know what you're listening to but therein lies its charm.

"All these tracks sort of started with an attitude," Rostron muses. "'Misogyny' started with those pan-flutes and then this funny bass-line. I'm not the kind of musician who is obsessed with a certain genre of music. I'm like a magpie, I just like a lot of stuff and I'm not one of those people who knows everything about house music or that sort of thing, I don't think like that. So I just started this bass-line and thought it was hilarious. There was something jittery about it and it was slightly off but, together with the pan-flutes, it concocted this sort of place for a certain attitude. And then I started writing the lyrics, misogyny drop dead, and that combination, for me, puts that topic in a really unknown zone. I felt that that was a brilliant place to put it because it's quite a heavy and dark topic. Misogyny is quite a scary phenomenon. So I've put it in this strange dance-y zone, a strange sound collage of things. Even when I hear it, or when I perform it I'm not sure exactly what it is, it's like its own creature somehow."

The track further cemented Rostron's intentions, en-route to crafting All Love's Legal, which was still in its nappy days this time last year. "The funny thing about this song, though, is that after 'Patriarchy Over & Out' I remember having a conversation with my manager, Katie, and thinking about my next move and I was just starting to record more music and I said to her: I don't think my next track would be that political. At the time I didn't think I was going to focus on making political music. And then when I wrote 'Misogyny Drop Dead' and she asked me what my next track was and I told her the title she was like: 'Bloody hell!' [laughs]. My manager is really supportive and has been amazing but that was a funny moment. And that was the point where I had to consider: why do I concern myself with what people are going to think about me going down a political route? It's interesting to liberate yourself from rules or expectations."

A further foundation of All Love's Legal was a re-working of The Knife's 'Full of Fire' which, not content with being just a remix, turned itself into a whole new song, 'Let's Talk About Gender Baby, Let's Talk About You and Me'. Appearing first as a double A-side with Hannah Holland's remix of The Knife's 'Raging Lung', the track then ended up undergoing a further reincarnation as a Planningtorock song on the new album, with a shortened title, 'Let's Talk About Gender Baby', which takes the line most relevant to this project from The Knife's original. "Yeah, I think it's the most relevant line," Rostron agrees. "It's an amazing lyric that's just buried at the end of 'Full of Fire' and I wanted to do something with that. It is just a genius lyric, especially with the reference to Salt-N-Pepa. Also... to take a topic like gender which is so complicated, I mean - I love it as a topic because there's so much you can do with it. So many places to go with it. I wanted to give it that light feeling, that openness. I loved it!"

Does she think of the track as a remix or as a song in its own right? "Well, we talked about that a lot, actually, because when I was doing it Olof was in the next room and he could hear the bass-line and he came in and said - what's that?! And then we were just dancing together to this bass-line in the studio. I like music overlapping. I'm not bothered about this is mine, this is yours. I like the idea that 'Full of Fire' was its own entity and then from it came this whole other thing. It can just keep going. I quite like re-works, you can enjoy it without having to label it. I just kept working it and thought it would be great to turn it into a modern disco track and that's how it evolved on the album as well. And Olof and Karin were totally open to that stuff - let's just keep it going, you know? Who knows, maybe rRoxymore can do her own version of it next or whatever! But it can just keep going. I think that lyric, though, is just fantastic, and it's really fun to perform."

With gender being something on which she's really focused her mind with this album, I ask whether she's done much reading about gender and queer politics by way of research for it. "Yeah, totally. That was a big part of the record," she says. "My studio was filled with books, borrowed books, printed out and photocopied essays, stuff like that. And that's an on-going thing for me. You need the language, access to people who are thinking about this shit all the time, decoding it, analysing it, pulling it apart and bringing something new to it. [she takes out a book] This book - I've decided to bring it to all my interviews - it's called 'Do The Right Thing' and it's from a feminist collective in Malmö and it's absolutely amazing. It's basically a little handbook that talks about inter-sectionality, gender, feminism and something I've been very interested in which is strategic separatism, with separatism being used as a way to address discrimination. So this book was in my studio all the time and I had access to certain words, or new words to add to the mood-board and also to equip me and to inspire me in my head with these issues, you know? You can get really cul-de-sac-ed with them. The way that gender is in society and all of the other bloody norms on top of it, can make you very disillusioned sometimes. And then you read an essay that's just pulling it apart, giving you terms and words that help equip you to deal with it and do something about it. So I did read a lot around it and I continue to do so."

The most spine-tingling moment on All Love's Legal is 'Steps', a song whose simple lyrical refrain goes round and round and whirlpools into a heart-wrenching orchestral sobfest. Earlier, we were discussing the line 'let's talk about gender baby' being an important one on this record but the centre-piece line on 'Steps' is, perhaps, just as equally engaging: "oh sometimes my heart is on the ground/and it's me who is walking all over it." Rostron's reaction to the gush about the song (the highlight on the album) betrays a mixture of pride and surprise. I ask her where the lyric came from: "It has a few lives but one of its main lives and where it comes from is a few very close friends of mine. Life is hard to live but a few of my friends suffer from depression and living for them is particularly hard. They're not very good at living, you know? There's a sort of self-destructiveness to them. But, for me, it also has a life in the relationship you have with yourself, this idea of walking on your heart. I use it a lot in my mind as a metaphor for certain moments. When I say 'heart', you can take it in terms of a romantic notion but not necessarily. Sometimes you just feel that you've let yourself down... It's really hard to explain. But it makes me cry every time I listen to it, which is pathetic. I wonder if I can perform it without welling up. But let's move on or I'll start bowling my eyes out on you."

Do you consider yourself a romantic? "That's a good question! I don't know, what is romantic to you?," she throws the question back to me. I say that, to me, romance is, perhaps, appreciating the love that you've got and, therefore, cultivating it. "Yeah, well, in that sense that's definitely something I would go with... definitely," she says. "It's difficult to talk about love because it's such a big topic but I think it's one of the most precious tools we have, you know? And it's also a fantastic vehicle to create empathy and to understand and deal with differences. It's a great political tool. I have the highest respect for it but I also think it is a very complex thing. Not in the commercialised form of it but on a human level. There's moments in your life where you experience it, you know, like the deep bonds that you have with some people, in your friendships, and it's like a very particular kind of love."

Finally, I ask Rostron whether she is nervous about how her more political material will be viewed by people outside her close group of friends. "So far the reactions I have had to the record have been overwhelming. I mean, I am sort of waiting for the catch. It feels like people want this now. I remember being interviewed in, like, 2006/2007 and talking about feminism and people almost being too scared to print that word. What, you call yourself a feminist? There was quite a bit of hostility towards that. And I was rejected quite a lot because of it. And with this record, the feeling is so different. Political ideas seems to be embraced. It feels like people actually want to talk about things. I mean, I don't make populist music. I don't make music for a market but it's the only thing I know. It's the way I operate. I've always done it that way and I can't imagine doing it any other way. Of course, I am aware of the industry but I have always been fortunate enough to do it on my own terms. It's way more satisfying. And it also serves its purpose for me because then I can explore things in a particular way. The whole Planningtorock thing is kind of funny because it's never hyped, you know? It just rumbles on, doing its own thing parallel to everything else. In the beginning I found that a little... sad. But now I think it's brilliant, it's still there rumbling on. When you're making music mostly for yourself and for your friends, you can't imagine beyond that in terms of what people's reactions are going to be like and I would never presume, either. I'm ready for anything. I know they're quite big topics and it's quite a lot to ask of people, I think, especially if people are not used to experiencing music in this way. But, if people really embrace it and go into the detail and take it on board, then that makes me really excited.


All Love's Legal is now out on Human Level.