From One Extreme to the Other: An Interview with Prince Rama

Prince Rama isn’t simply a band without a genre – they are truly from another dimension.

Their newest album, Xtreme Now, was conceived during a month long excursion sisters Taraka (vocals, guitar, and keyboards) and Nimai Larson (drums, vocals) made to Vȫrmsi, a remote island off the coast of Estonia. While there, Taraka had two near-death experiences.

“I had a whole plethora of audio hallucinations I guess you could call it, for lack of a better word,” she said. “I felt like I could hear everything in terms of sound and song. Time and space sort of became very jelly in this way.”

[jump] Prince Rama, in the style of Animal Collective and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti, tackles heady issues like danger and mortality in abstract melodies and synthesizers. Xtreme Now is an effort to usher in what Taraka called “the extreme genre,” which she feels the world is sorely lacking. She clarified that “extreme” need not only mean things like bungee jumping and motocross.

“I look at the word extreme as not just a sort of descriptive word for sports or something,” she said. “It can be a totally normal experience, where you're doing your laundry in a very extreme way, like your awareness is very intensified.”
The Larson sisters' background is as unique as their sound. The two were raised on a Hare Kirshna commune in Florida, an atypical childhood that has produced two wholly original, if not peculiar, musicians. Their trip to Estonia came about because one of Taraka’s old film professors from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was making an experimental film loosely based on black metal and utopia and invited the sisters to come along. Taraka said that the island they lived on was like a “crazy, ancient Viking homestead,” and that the month they spent there left them totally cut off from the rest of society.

It was there that Taraka had her near-death experiences, episodes she said she can’t describe because to verbalize them would be “like pornography or something.” The realizations she described having during the near-death experiences aren’t far removed from what someone might experience after a particularly potent LSD trip. But, whereas most people would leave it there, Taraka made a record.

“I realized that there's something about pop music where you can make this sort of portal with it,” she said. “You can take these little shards of this prism and make these little collages in this way. It won't  capture the entire experience, but in presenting a shard of the prism, there's like this hope that it will reflect the other aspects of the prism within it.“

Part of Prince Rama’s appeal is the band’s uncanny ability to stitch big, juicy hooks into their songs. This is what drew Animal Collective’s Avery Tare to their sound, who signed them to his label Pawtracks before it was disbanded (they are now on the off-shoot Carpark Records). On “Bahia,” a track that draws from the legacy of electronic music godfather Giogio Moroder, the hook is a massive explosion of sound. 

Taraka compared the process of creating these moments in Prince Rama’s songs to something akin to a religious experience.

“I think a lot of people like to look at pop music as this secular thing, but I totally beg to differ,” said Taraka. “I think anything you put that energy into, that has the power to reach on a really grand scale and to graft itself into so many peoples' brains, must be spiritual.”

For those on the outside looking in, Prince Rama’s music doesn’t require much context for its imminently danceable “now age” sound to be enjoyed. Whether you know the eccentric intricacies of the Larson’s minds or simply latch onto one of the band’s numerous hooks, the outcome is still likely to be some (possibly profound) booty shaking.

As Taraka said: “You can't capture the whole ocean. But you can throw a bait out and see what happens.”

Prince Rama with Dinner and Stevedood plays the Starline Social Club on March 30. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com.
 

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