Prince Rama: Interview
“We need gushes of blood, we need zombies on motorcycles, 12 Abercrombie models, muscle men with glitter sweat.”
It gets to the idea. It just reminds me of that guy who predicted two apocalypses in the same year…
Taraka: Harold Camping. After the first one failed, he had to recalculate really quick.
Nimai: That guy’s an idiot. [laughs]
What’s funny is that he lives across the bay, in Alameda.
Not surprising. Didn’t he die?
I don’t know.
Nimai: Maybe he committed suicide.
Taraka: No, I think he had a stroke or something right after his second one because he was so stressed out. So, the world did end for him.
In this context of apocalyptic vision, did channeling that through Top Ten Hits At the End of the World relate to this vision?
Yeah, definitely. We were already channeling so many apocalypses, just on a micro scale in our lives. A lot of shit went down in our personal lives during the making of this album: Relationships ending, moving out of houses, people dying. So there were so many micro-endings which were channeled. In that, there is a clarity that comes out of that, or this idea of what an apocalyptic vision is. It becomes this idea of foreverness.
The thing that is so interesting about a lot of apocalyptic visions is that it is not all chaos and destruction. I feel like the apocalypse is this frame to enter into perfection. This is why pop music appealed so much to me about this. When thinking about what an apocalyptic vision would be, it would be pop music, because for me, pop music is this ultimate framework [onto] which people can project their own inner endings. On so many levels, if you just look lyrically at a lot of pop songs, they talk a lot about loving someone forever, or, “I’ll be with you forever,” this idea of infinity existing within things. That message goes on after these people die. So then people will be singing Elvis karaoke 50 years after he’s passed away channel that sentiment of him, and still embody that message of infinity every time you sing or listen to it.
What triangles symbolize is a sort of code: That’s all that symbols are. They are these portals that you can link up this world with more abstract realms. So, by putting the triangles together, it’s creating this diamond realm in between the two worlds, where terrestrial forces meet heavenly forces and link up.
In a lot of ways, too, pop music encourages the ending of human beings, but in this way that’s not destructive. It’s actually this advancement towards the perfection of the human being. Especially now, in 2013, we have all this technology for recording and making things so hi-fi that they don’t sound like they’re even made by humans anymore. You can make things so perfect, that it’s taken the human element out of it completely. So it becomes this vehicle for perfection that actually transcends human. And these pop stars have to be superhuman people, for we project so much on them, they become these supernatural beings. That’s a really big part of being a pop star: Having a supernatural element. You can’t be human and be a pop star. You’ll die. People who were pop stars and committed suicide did it because of that struggle between being human and supernatural. It’s like Kurt Cobain couldn’t reach that state of being supernatural, he was all, “I wanna be human, this is not human enough.”
I think a big part of that was he was still very much a twee kid at heart, and that has that humanistic element of reversion to it.
Though in that context, I understand that you see apocalypse not as an end, but a change.
It is just a change! Apocalypse literally translates from Greek as “lifting of the veil” or “revelation.” So that’s what it is: Taking this veil you have over reality and just lifting it.
It’s a good point. In that respect, from your piece, you have said that originality is dead. Would you say that you reject the overall concept?
I don’t reject the concept. It’s a misdirected or misinterpreted concept. When I think about originality, I think of being in touch with the origin, and in that sense, I definitely believe in originality. But this idea of originality, that you are creating something entirely new, and that no one else has ever done this before, I don’t think that exists. I think that’s a misconception of what originality really is. It’s a really self-centered way of looking at originality.
Speaking of which, I’ve found that a lot of pop culture has this very specific self-centered element to it in recent years. Do you think that, in order for change to be acquired, that has to be dismantled?
Yeah. To me, when you have a veil over your eyes, and all you can see is yourself, it’s a very myopic vision. So yeah, when that veil is lifted up, that sense of isolation is taken out.
Speaking of that self-reflection, the aesthetics that you point out in this is very much scaled on reflecting light. Under McLuhan’s interpretation that light is considered pure information, would you consider your aesthetics a deflection or evasion of information?
Well, just as much as light is considered information, you’re not going to see that information without darkness. So that contrast is really important. You could have a room of pure light, and yet you’re not going to get any information from that in the sense of discerning things from other things. You need both.
So it’s more of a way to shape things.
I think it’s just participating. It’s a matter of being engaged. With the light from your environment, a lot of times you’re not as aware. You’re taking a lot of information, obviously, and you’re creating a scheme of your surroundings from that. But you’re not necessarily participating in that. Whereas if you…[examines herself] Well, I’m not actually doing a good job of wearing reflective materials right now. But it’s more of the idea of taking light in and then just reflecting it out, and it creates light patterns. All of a sudden, you’re very aware of these light patterns, and all of a sudden you’re very aware of the light of the light that’s coming in, whereas you might not have been before. It’s actually more of a game of just trying make yourself more aware. I’m not necessarily saying people should wear more sequins and stuff. It’s just more that anything you can do to make yourself more aware of how you’re engaging or participating in your environment.
She was just writing things down, going, “Uh huh, uh huh.” And we said, “Dude, I don’t know if this is really going to happen.” Even up until the first day of shooting, we didn’t really know if this was going to happen. Then we got there on the set, and we thought “Holy shit…”
Speaking of awareness, I noticed that, in your manifesto, you separated consciousness and awareness as two separate elements. Isn’t consciousness a form of awareness?
I use the word awareness because there’s not a better word to use. But what I’m actually interested in is conscious unconsciousness, or unconscious consciousness, if that makes sense. It’s not that they’re mutually exclusive, rather they come together at this one point to become unconscious consciousness. Because when you’re too conscious, then you just become one of those people that’s very aware of yourself in this way that’s maybe selfish and rude. You’re still thinking too much. However, in a concert, that moment when you’re at your favorite band’s concert, you’re dancing, and the lights and fog are all going, you’re totally in the zone, you’re aware of everything that is going on around you, but you’re not thinking about it. That’s what I’m interested in. It’s almost like trance. It’s like in meditation, if you’re too conscious or aware of being conscious, you’re missing the point, because you are thinking about it too much.
Well, I got a couple more questions, but they seem kind of silly, like how the Hyparctic Song could work in the vacuum of space…
That’s a cool question. The thing is, the Hyparctic Song isn’t actually based on any song. It’s that idea that resonates. Your ears are producing frequencies every time there’s a frequency coming in, and what you’re actually hearing is that resonance between what your brain is producing and the informations that’s taken in.
So it’s a reverse sound, as it were…
It’s more of a resonance, this sound that you’re producing just by your own vibration, and what’s being produced in your external environment. Like that moment when you hear something, and you think, “Oh my God, YES,” that epiphany moment. That’s the Hyparctic Song. It could be anything. It’s different for everyone. So, maybe in a vacuum… I don’t know. But the thing is, the Hyparctic Song isn’t necessarily sound. Light is just sound sped up, for example. So, the Hyparctic Song can be something that you see that really strikes you, and you feel that moment. So, as I said, in a vacuum… I’m not sure. I’ve never been in a vacuum. I’m curious. I’m sure it’s possible somehow.
Now, I feel you may have inadvertently answered this, but couldn’t the Hyparctic Song, by nature of its apotheosis/deification, be considered an icon?
Well, no, because the Hyparctic Song isn’t concentrated. It isn’t this [grabs and bangs a water bottle] this water bottle, it’s the way this water bottle makes me feel. It’s the reaction of me responding to this. It’s not the statue of Buddha, it’s me reacting to it. So it’s not the icon in and of itself. It’s more of this effect it produces and the affect that it produces.
[Photo: Michael Collins]