To escape childhood trauma, Rose McGowan travelled to an imaginary planet. Now it's an isolation album
The actress and #MeToo trailblazer hopes Planet 9 will help people meditate and heal through COVID-19
Originally published on May 4, 2020
When Rose McGowan was a small child going through difficult times at home, she would escape the here-and-now by travelling to an imaginary utopian world called Planet 9.
"Planet 9 was beautiful. It would come out of a ceiling at school and it would kind of open its half shell and enclose me just like a solid orb. And I would be floating in the middle of it while still at school and pretending to pay attention to the teacher at the same time," says the actress and #MeToo trailblazer in an interview with q host Tom Power.
"I would wonder what sound frequencies were on the planet, and I would imagine all these different lights going."
As McGowan grew older, Planet 9 eventually drifted out of her memory — until several years ago, when astronomers said they discovered a distant planet in the outer reaches of our solar system. It was popularly referred to as Planet Nine.
"I was like, 'What? They found my planet?' And then, of course, my next logical conclusion was, 'I must make an album for my planet,'" says McGowan with a laugh. "I don't know how those two got associated, but they did."
'We can't travel outside, but we can travel inside'
The result is Planet 9, a spacey hybrid of hypnotic singing, spoken word and electronic music that includes trippy lyrics like "In a galaxy of newfound time / Do you skip stars on Planet 9? / Are you lonely on your planet? / Are you lonely on the fringe?" as well as more pointed thoughts including "Think who wins when you're quiet" and "I know your truth / I know their hate / I know their lies / I know your rage / I know the truth."
McGowan hopes the album will help people meditate and heal, especially in these trying times.
"I only decided 13 days ago to release it at this time. And I was thinking, 'You know, we're all stuck right now. We can't travel outside, but we can travel inside,'" says McGowan, who is riding out the COVID-19 pandemic on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, a place she's been visiting for 20 years. "And it's very much an album made for that, travelling inside."
Of course, McGowan is best known not as a musician, but as an actress with roles in the horror film Scream, the supernatural TV drama Charmed, and Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's double feature film Grindhouse. Behind the scenes, she was also honing her skills as a filmmaker, multimedia artist and writer.
Still, the actress and outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors emphasizes that she has no aspirations to pursue music as a career.
"I am not trying to be a pop star, I will not be performing this album," writes McGowan on her website. Rather, she worked with French electronic producers Punishment, Hot Sugar and DJ Falcon, as well as TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, to create a haunting cinematic sound.
This may come as a shock, but this Friday, April 24th, my album Planet 9 is being released on all platforms. I’m not trying to be a pop star, but I did make music that heals in a new way. Link is in bio. If you want to go to a better place, come to Planet 9. <a href="https://t.co/nOqKxW2XTN">pic.twitter.com/nOqKxW2XTN</a>—@rosemcgowan
McGowan says that when she was writing her autobiography Brave, people kept telling her that she needed to read other people's biographies and emulate them.
"And I went, 'But that's not my voice. Why would I do that? That makes no sense.' And it's the same thing with music. People always are like, 'You should do it like this,'" she says.
"I thought about it, and I thought about my skill set. And a lot of it comes from film. That's what I know. And so I applied filmmaking techniques to the album."
'I have a 350-pound weight off of my back'
For the past several years, McGowan has also been a central figure in the #MeToo movement, and was named among Time Magazine's Silence Breakers — the women named collectively as the magazine's Person of the Year in 2017 for speaking out about sexual assault and harassment.
More recently, she spoke publicly outside the courthouse where disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and several other charges.
She says the trial did bring a measure of closure, and creating Planet 9 also helped her find peace.
"I do feel a sense of freedom. I feel like I have a 350-pound weight off of my back. And it's beautiful right now. And Planet 9 was instrumental in my healing and why I wanted it out there," she says.
The album is being sold through Bandcamp, with 20 per cent of proceeds going to coronavirus relief efforts.
"It's really a healing album. It heals trauma, and it's so beautiful. And I really hope people come on that journey because again, if we can't travel outside, we can definitely travel inside."
Written by Jennifer Van Evra. Interview produced by Jennifer Warren.