PRINCE RAMA

30 Mar

It’s no easy task to describe either the music or the general approach of Prince Rama. Resisting easy categorization, even our attempt to pigeonhole the music on their unforgettable, most recent album – “Trust Now,” their second release on the Paw-Tracks label – as “skin-pounding electronic new-age space gospel” falls immeasurably short and quite off the mark.

Despite the fact that their previous Paw-Tracks album (“Shadow Temple”) actually rose as high as #3 on the Billboard New Age charts, Prince Rama are stated advocates of “the now-age” – and we’d be lying if we said our level of experience in said field rises above the sub-dilettante level.

What we can’t lie about is the fact that Prince Rama’s music – a heavy, heady and heroic mixture of rhythm, chanting, singing and raw emotion – moves us in mind, body and spirit. Such a broad, general statement attached to such a singular, distinctive sound provides little insight for the uninitiated. To them, we can only say: Get initiated.

We now trust you will enjoy this interview with one-half of Prince Rama, Taraka Larson, in advance of their appearance at Austin Psych Fest 2012. Trust!

What is the earliest memory you have of realizing the relationship you have with your sister would not only be a central one in your life, but a musical one as well? Are there ways in which your own musical preferences have confounded one another over the years, or do you feel you’ve largely been on the same page, so to speak? Do you think there’s a level of comfort in Prince Rama as sisters that allows you to explore and create your music at a more ambitious level? Or do we presume too much? Our apologies if you’re actually fueled musically by your mutual hatred.

Ha! Wow, that’s a complex question! We are both really different people, and always have been, but I think that’s why we work so well together. We very rarely step on each other’s toes because we’re usually dancing in totally different sides of the club. That said, I think taking dance together when we were younger and choreographing elaborate ballets set to “Cats” was one of our first steps towards being collaborative partners. Deep down we each know we’re the only ones who will ever truly understand just how insane the other really is!

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Thinking terribly broadly American music in the past handful of generations, there’s seems to be a void in ready examples of sisters making music together, while one can casually consider a dozen or more examples of brothers making music together. Would you hazard a guess on why? (We heard the Scissor Sisters aren’t even sisters.) However, there exists a strong lineage of sisters making music together in the arenas of gospel and folk, so … is it cool if we say “Trust Now” is one of the most intriguing and inspiring gospel-folk albums we’ve heard in many a moon?

Ha, gospel folk album … that’s a first! But I mean, no one can prove the Hanson brothers are really brothers – they might be sisters, too. So there’s another example. I have no idea why there aren’t more sisters making music. Why haven’t the Olsen twins put out an album yet?

What is the significance of the title “Trust Now” from a musical perspective, and does the title hold any influence on how the album is sequenced? Which part do you feel you struggle with more – the “trust” or the “now”?

Both “trust” and “now” are the two most vital ingredients to making music in my book, and I probably struggle with both equally. Making music involves taking risks, rendering yourself vulnerable in a place of danger, touching the dark unknown forces within yourself and bloodily embracing the chaos with open arms … it can be terrifying! That is why there must be an element of trust. The “now” is the most dangerous realm you can possibly put yourself in because it doesn’t really exist … “now” is a mere prism of all possibilities taking place in the past and future that shatters the moment you try to put a face on it. So by trusting “now” you are trusting the invisible, the faceless, the everything, the nothing, the void … “Trust Now” as an album was sequenced mostly as a psycho-physical experiment in carving a space for both words to exist through sound.

We’ll admit to it taking about twelve seconds for us to fall in love with “Trust Now,” and we’re curious about the placement of the album’s two opening songs, “Rest In Peace” and “Summer of Love” – is there anything in particular that led to those titles? Any particular reason they live next to each other on “Trust Now”?

The whole album was structured as a ritual of sorts, beginning with a death and ending with a birth. In this case, the opening track, “Rest in Peace,” was written about the death of our grandmother and the closing track, “Golden Silence” is about the birth of a new love, a new relationship. Both are celebrations.

Regardless, the two songs account for twelve-plus minutes of really wildly ecstatic music – and, for us, really heavy, in the best possible way. Can you recall any two songs on any album that you love that you think of as inseparable, or at least belonging together?

The first album that pops to mind is Amon Duul’s “Collapsing.” The sequence on that album blows my mind every time I listen to it … it is like watching a really well-edited action film. Each song transitions into the next with a bang or an explosion.

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you are well into recording a special fan-club only album with a certain purple-hued musical mystic from Minnesota, entitled “PrincePrinceRama, Mama!”?

Huh?? This is the first we’ve heard of it.

What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Beatles album and why?

Gotta say, we’re not really that into The Beatles. George Harrison is cool, but The Beatles themselves are pretty overrated. Currently jamming out to white noise static on the Indiana radio.

How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Have you had an opportunity to see the line-up and if so, are there any bands that you’ve not seen perform before that you’re anxious to see?

Heard about it through some friends a long time ago … pretty “psyched” about going this year, pardon the pun. We’re anxious to watch everyone.

In his excellent, scholarly account entitled “This Ain’t The Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk,” Steve Waksman, Associate Professor of Music and American Studies at Smith College, says the following about the 1976 song that gives his book its title, as performed by Blue Oyster Cult (including, of course, the beautifully named guitarist, Buck Dharma):

“The lyric is spare but suggestive and the verses are especially elliptical, each one ending with the assertion “This is the night we ride” … they mock the suggestion that the late 1960s was some golden era never to be reproduced or recovered … Resources of the past became the means to counter the orthodoxies of the present and to create a new synthesis …”

Your thoughts?

BE HERE NOW, BRO.

What’s next for Prince Rama?

See above.

Prince Rama

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