Prince Rama may not be from this planet. Or this dimension. But, as the band told us in an email curiously missing a time stamp, it is most certainly from "The Now."
The group, comprised of sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson, formed in a Florida Hare Krishna community and slowly gained a cult following (maybe literally) as it released a series of trance-psych albums on Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label, as well as ephemera like "group exorcism videos disguised as VHS workouts."
One year ago, the group released its seventh album, Top Ten Hits Of The End Of The World, a concept piece that focused on "this meta-space linking pop music and the end of the world" after Taraka began looking up various dates the world had been predicted to end and the #1 hit singles that corresponded to those dates.
The result was a full LP where the sisters invented 10 different pop bands that died during the apocalypse and channeled the ghosts of each to perform the various songs, including tunes by groups like the fictional Metaphysixxx and I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E.
This is history though. We're focused on the now, the present, the atoms that vibrate around our rosy, autumn-whipped cheeks. Now. Say it: nowwwww.
But what's the opposite of now? Infinity? Forever? Both? The band may have the answer in Never Forever, a short film-cum-iridescent journey-cum-brain sizzler that is debuting for the first time online at The Creators Project and can be watched above.
Never Forever is expanding Prince Rama's apocalyptic record and using its songs to soundtrack this original film, directed by Astral Project's Lily X. Wahrman. The 18-minute rock epic takes notes from Jodorwosky and Donna Summers and spirals viewers into a mindspace that could only be dreamt by the oddest of collisions amongst neural synapses.
There are Abercrombie models lifting marble blocks, a jacuzzi of blood that resurrects the lost faces of pop star avatars, two identical motorcycles driven by two blond identical twins with ripped t-shirts that read "FOR EVER," and so much more.
Watch the video above, but don't get too lost in the void. If you need some grounding back on planet Earth, read our interview below with the band about how this work came to fruition, and how we can notice the sounds of "birds and sirens and sex and drones of electricity and neighboring dogs" pulsing through our walls. You are here, you are there, you are now.
The Creators Project: I like that you made a long video in an age where all digital content is getting sped up to serve our attention spans. Do you think there will be more long-narrative music video/films in the future? Or will such an art form continue to dwindle?
Prince Rama: I think music videos will evolve to a point where they are embedded holographically within the songs themselves, so that as your brain is translating the music as auditory information, it will simultaneously be reading it as visual material as well, projecting a unique holographic map of imagery onto the brain that is tailored to the memories and desires of the listener himself.
Never Forever hints at the potential of video as a means to access these various virtual realities, but since we sadly don't have access to the technologies which could make interneural holographic encoding possible, we resorted to the long-play music video.
What have the responses to the full film been so far?
One kid in Moscow ran to the bathroom and tried to claw his eyes out. Another was inspired to take up weight-lifting.
What is the best way to watch this movie? Do certain settings, contexts or states-of-mind enhance the experience?
The best way to experience Never Forever would probably be inside a sauna with the images projected three dimensionally onto the steam. By the time the end of the movie comes, everyone will be at their wits end with overexposure to the mind-numbingly extreme heat and emerge with a new body essentially, having sweat out all the toxins of their past.
If this isn't possible, create a mental sauna, strip naked and collapse in it, letting the images burn into your pores and infuse each cell with new strength and horror and being. Bring popcorn.
Who made the animation and graphics? I like them because they're antiquated without being kitschy or seapunk-ish. What computer systems were used to make the graphics?
Our friend and insanely talented video artist Will Rahilly
was the wizard behind all the animated constructions. He used a combination of a program called Cinema 4-D and After Effects. He does some similar animation in his own video work, you should definitely check him out if you get a chance.
When was this project conceived, and how long did it take to finish the film? Did your Kickstarter campaign fund the entire project?
Astral Projects first approached us about making a movie in late spring of last year. They shot a Kickstarter video and we conducted the campaign half remotely while living on a black metal utopian commune off the coast of Estonia.
We'd never done a Kickstarter before and it totally exceeded our expectations-- it was extremely humbling. We were able to fund almost all of it through Kickstarter and whatever it didn't cover we pitched out of our own pockets. Although the shooting itself only lasted 5 days, the editing went on for nearly 8 months before its final premiere at the MoMA PS 1 VW Dome in early June.
How did the collaboration with Lily X and Astral Projects happen? Will you work together on other projects?
We toured with Sun Araw in Australia last year and got to know Tony really well, who was playing sax with them at the time. He and Lily approached us about collaborating on a movie together and we were like, SURE OK TOTALLY. I remember not really knowing what the hell to expect... We had seen "Icon Eye"
(the Congos / Sun Araw film) and loved it, but we weren't too familiar with Lily's work before.
One day, they sat us down and asked us, "What is every wildest fantasy you ever wanted to see fulfilled in a movie?" And we were like, "Well, ok, first off we need 12 Abercrombie models lifting marble pyramids that sweat beads of mercury, a jacuzzi of blood that resurrects the lost faces of pop star avatars, two identical motorcycles driven by two blond identical twins with ripped t-shirts that read FOR EVER, live exotic animals, a miniature model of Stonehenge made from red velvet cake and leopard printed fake nails..."
All the while, Lily is just taking notes and nodding and saying "Uh huh, yep, ok..." I remember walking out of that meeting shaking our heads in total disbelief and thinking "Yeah right like any of that is gonna happen." Then lo and behold, as soon as we walked in the first day of shooting, we were aghast to see a crew of 50 people on set with lights and blood and dollies and lasers and a live miniature pony and zombie dancers and we were like "Holy Jesus it's happening!"
It's been a totally inspiring experience for us on so many levels to see so many people come together like that. We feel so grateful every step of the way. Lily totally took the reigns and conjured some sort of magical pegasus with wings comprised of some of the most talented and creative people we've ever met. Would definitely work with her (and everyone involved) on future projects again in a heartbeat.
I heard that the film was originally called "Scorpion Tornado," why did you change the name?
Well in a nutshell, we ended up cutting the scorpion tornado scene out so the title didn't fit any more. We couldn't secure Bill Paxton as a lead actor, and making a tornado movie without him would be total career suicide.
What films/movies/pop culture influenced the content of this video?
Forever 21. Ryan Trecartin. Thriller. Extreme sports. Kenneth Anger. Alejandro Jodorowsky. Liquid Sky. Zombie Aesthetics. The Apple. The Big Apple. Matthew Barney. Monster Energy. Fun Fun. Stonehenge. Kate Bush. Lao Tsu. Muscle Milk. Nietzsche. Hooters. Billboard Hot 100. Charles Manson. The Unarians. Abercrombie and Fitch. Holograms. Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Meshes of the Afternoon. Donna Summer.
Will you be showing the film while you perform live?
We'd rather let it be its own beast. We have done quite a bit of touring this year where we screen it before we play, which works well to set the mood and present an aesthetic environment for the performance to portal through. Doing both simultaneously was a bit too distracting.
I heard that the New York premiere of "Never Forever" at the MoMA Dome was accompanied by a lecture you delivered called that “Pop Music And The Apocalypse.” What topics were covered in the lecture?
The lecture was at a different screening at The Clocktower Gallery in NYC based on some conceptual blah blah blahs I wrote while we were first brainstorming for the film, so the two feel tenderly connected in my brain. Both the lecture and the film share a fascination with this meta-space linking pop music and the end of the world.
My interest in this connection began a few years ago when I started looking up various dates the world has been predicted to end and the #1 hit singles that corresponded to those dates. The findings were jaw-droppingly eerie.
In a nutshell, I think pop music provides the quintessential "lure of utopia" that makes an apocalypse possible, be it microcosmic or macrocosmic. It is a destruction of the self through the promise of self-perfection, a self-induced amnesia that cannibalizes memory and immortalizes nostalgia, a black hole formed from the collapsed stars of collective memories into which we pummel ourselves time and time again with reckless ecstasy.
Pop stars are the brightest keys to unlock the darkest of eternities, and it is all happening in the infinite tail-eating serpentine prism of NOW -- Never Forever.
What does the future look like? Is it more retrogade than most would expect?
We don't believe in the Future, only one Forever Now.
How will the world actually end and what comes after life?
Stop reading this and look around you. Notice the smells and the subtle patterns of air on your skin. Notice the sounds of birds and sirens and sex and drones of electricity and neighboring dogs pulsing through the walls. See the colors on the screen melt together and the slight reflection of your face as you scan over it. Count to 10 backwards. This is the end. And you are the beginning.
Never Forever will see two screenings at a the CPH:DOX film festival in Copenhagen soon. You'll be making more than one trip by attending.