by Greg “Gargs” Allard
Prince Rama is an avant garde, Now Age band that originated in Gainesville, Fla. as Dasi more than a decade ago and is now based in Brooklyn, NY, where it has enjoyed great success charting on the Billboard New Age charts several times and has released numerous albums to critical acclaim. Just following a six-week tour of North America and with the release of a new album just months away, I got to chat with the dark-haired sister, Taraka Larson (Nimai is the lighter-haired girl), for the second time, who proved to be as thoughtful to the mind as she is talented to the ear.
Gargs: Your music and art as Prince Rama is truly a spectacle to experience.
While I was driving up I-95 last year, my shuffle played one of your old Dasi songs and I enjoyed it so much that I played a couple of your albums on the way to my destination.
Your music as Prince Rama, has really evolved tremendously but I feel the same substance that attracted me to hearing Dasi seems to be there intact. Could you talk a little about how your music has both changed and stayed the same?
Taraka: Dasi huh? Wow, I probably would have just swerved the car clear off the road to make it stop. Ha– kidding! I haven’t listened to that stuff in almost a decade. Is it still listenable? I could say a lot of b.s. about it, but if you really want to know the real honest-to-god thing that attracted us to creating Dasi, it was the high school dream of becoming Blink 182, and I still love Blink 182 and want more than anything to just make music people can skateboard to.
Gargs: In an interview I did with you almost four years ago, you described your music as Now Age. Could you expand on that concept a little? And I encourage you not to be brief while staying in the now.
Taraka: Now Age is just a fancy way of saying “Nothing”, or “leading a blind rabid dog through quicksand with no rope and no way out to then be licked clean on the other side of the black hole.” I don’t want to describe my music as anything in particular because then it could potentially harm the relationship I try so hard to cultivate with it that I described before. The Now Age is a personal manifesto I first wrote for myself to help me forget every aspect of my flesh and approach everything with that pure unadulterated divine amnesia that has no recollection of the past, no care for the future… it is there I find the purest music to lie, and that’s the music I want to devote my entire life to making.
Gargs: Cool. Who is responsible for the art on your album covers, in your videos and in your shows. To me they are amazing but I think that to anyone that would have be at least interesting?
Taraka: Well, I guess it just depends on what album you are talking about… Our first two albums we made all the artwork ourselves, then Architecture of Utopia was a painting made by Paul Laffoley, Shadow Temple we did ourselves, 15 Minute Exorcise and Trust Now were created conceptually by us and shot by our cousin, Corey Towers. Top Ten Hits of the End of the World was conceptualized by us but shot in collaboration with our friend Samantha Casolari and designed by Jo Cutri.
Gargs: How do you think that music and fashion goes into the creation of form in the universe?
Taraka: Music creates the world and keeps it going. And fashion should be a concrete visual manifestation of that music. Nothing should stand in the way of the song. Sometimes you see people wearing things to try and dampen the song. Others wear things that amplify it. Some people wear loops or records skipping. If you try to watch the way you listen, you’ll understand what I mean.
Gargs: I really like the term “ghost modernism.” I know that Don Henley once called the times we live in to be a “post post post post post post modern world,” and I really liked that but I think that “ghost modernism” brings even more illumination to the subject matter. Could you tell us what you mean by that?
Taraka: Well, I can’t quite take credit for the term… I originally learned it while working for the infamous visionary architect Paul Laffoley– he used it to describe the artistic movement following post-modernism based on the visual principles of kitsch. I just applied the term to music and it was eerily fitting– The sonic landscape of the post post post post post post post modern world is littered with the detritus of past musical movements and guided by the phantom limbs of its revolutionary leaders. Recent technologies have made the graveyard all the more accessible to the living. The linear trajectory of time and all of its cremated entrails are sprayed across the vast fields of the Internet, offering residents of this age a unique opportunity to experience multiple times simultaneously, never having to fully commit to one era or the next. The Internet thus serves as a portal to commune with the spirit world, offering an opportunity to experience both past and present in real time, almost morphing into a means to remember. Music of the ghost-modern era has consequently thrived on this artificial platform of memory, becoming an extension of an ever-expanding archaeology of reference points and nostalgia. A new system of “zombie” sonic and visual aesthetics is created based on a half-resurrection of relics of past tastes. Anyone who has listened to the Strokes knows what I’m talking about. (winks)
Gargs: Impressive explanation, Taraka. The way you describe this reminds me of how it feels to listen to someone who is long gone from this world — like say, John Lennon say or Niko, but getting the feeling that they’re still here. It is a quite a mystical experience, really, that I think most people take for granted.
Could you tell us more about the fashion incorporated into your act and how you guys dress when you’re walking around the “real” world?
Taraka: What do you mean by real world? Fashion should be a visual extension of the music, it is literally the shell of the sound, the walls in which sound resonates, so it should always be in a reciprocal relationship with your inner and outer song. Materials that engage in the world of light and shadow and subconscious fantasy should be employed so that this thread between “real” and “unreal” is nothing but a constantly unwinding spool, connecting the two like a mobius strip across your body.
Gargs: What is your latest musical project and what are you working on now?
Taraka: We just finished recording a new album loosely about extreme sports and the mystical experience, so we’re just trying to finish mixing and wrap things up with that. We’ve been working with these really amazing producers, Alex Epton and Ryan Sciano, also known as Win Win, XXXchange, and producers of Spank Rock. It should be released later 2015, early 2016 and we’re concocting all sorts of visual art projects to be looped into it! Were extremely extremely excited!
Gargs: Exciting. How did the tour go?
Taraka: We literally JUST came off a six-week long tour across North America with Dan Deacon which was totally amazing. What a sweetheart– and absolute joy to watch perform– wish we could be back on the road again already!
Gargs: I really enjoyed the 17-plus minute video of “Never Forever.” Could you tell us about the concept behind that?
Taraka: Thanks! Honestly, we can’t take too much credit for the concept behind it. Our two friends, Tony Lowe and Lily Wahrman, approached us soon after Top Ten Hits of the End of the World came out about doing an apocalyptic psych-opera to accompany the album and we agreed. We had no idea what kind of magic we were about to get into — and it was truly some kind of magic… truly a collaboration of many fantastic creative minds. I had written a manifesto called “Apocalypse Now: Pop Music and the End of the World” which I gave to them to read as we were formulating the concepts for the movie, and I feel like some of the themes seeped in there– especially ghost-modern concepts like the Pop Star as Virtual Reality Automatron having to blindly escape the dark underworld of Zombie Aesthetics and finding salvation via twin blazing motorcycle riders named “For” and “Ever”… but ah! I am already saying too much! This might just be my own skewed interpretation of it. So much of Never Forever was about fucking concepts and letting our dreamworlds run amok in a glittered wilderness like sweating Abercrombie models on the treadmills of eternity…
Gargs: It was fantastic — kind of like dying, going into your astral body, having an LSD flashback, and then going back into your body again and wondering if I just saw what I think I saw.Share on social media