Style Record: Prince RamaAll photographs courtesy of Prince Rama, main image by Derrick Belcham with outfits by MessQueen Style Features Style Record
There’s nothing like a Prince Rama show. From the electric energy beforehand to the moment sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson take the stage to probably even a few days after, you’ll feel something that’s hard to put your glitter-stained finger on. From their hypnotic beats to their inevitable stage presence, Prince Rama has built a kingdom, and it’s ruled by style.
But it’s not just their unique fashion choices that influence the magic present in their style. Growing up the only Hare Krishnas in small town Texas, Taraka and Nimai’s personal styles have always been born out of a desire to simply be themselves. And it gets wacky. Before Prince Rama thrived on electric stage outfits and sparkle-powered makeup, they “never really gave a second thought to” their outfits, but, thanks to matters of the heart, their style transformed into something special, all from feeling, well, what they were feeling.
“Something shifted after we played this festival in Bologna in 2011,” Taraka said. “Me and Nimai had both just broken up with boyfriends and were feeling pretty rough. Instead of trying to cover up our puffy mascara-streaked eyes, we decided to just fuckin own it and exacerbate how psycho we felt. We smeared lipstick down our chins like blood and globbed silver glitter under our eyes so it looked like pools of glitter tears.”
There’s something to the raw honesty Prince Rama embodies, right down to their closets.
“A style should be an honest outward expression of your true inner nature,” explained Taraka. “If your body is a temple, then putting together an outfit is like constructing the wearable architecture of a personal sacred space.”
Amen, girlfriend. We talked with Taraka about Prince Rama’s style revolution, Monster Energy M’s and Nike swooshes and being in the now. Because, after all, that’s where your style is, always.
Paste: Tell us a little bit about your style and how it influences you and your performance on stage.
Taraka Larson: First off, your style should never influence you or your performance. You should influence your style! A style should be an honest outward expression of your true inner nature. If your body is a temple, then putting together an outfit is like constructing the wearable architecture of a personal sacred space. It keeps you in the zone and keeps your skin in direct contact with your inner powers like an energy loop. The moment your style starts influencing your performance you must destroy it and start a new one.
I remember reading about the Lakota tribe and how they made “warrior shirts” for protection during battle using certain animal hides in order take on their specific powers. They even took it one step further by including locks of hair from various people they scalped. Wearing these items was a way of paying respect to the dead by taking on their spirit and giving them new life in battle. I feel like playing shows is like going to battle sometimes. We don’t go so far as to kill anyone (except ourselves), but I do feel like we choose certain articles of clothing as an unspoken pact with the universe to take on their spirit and integrate them with our own. For instance, by dawning various extreme sports articles we are agreeing to take on some of that fearless “give no fucks” attitude and merging it with our own.
Paste: What do you think makes up an ideal stage outfit?
Taraka: A concert should be a direct and pure expression of your inner nature, so an ideal stage outfit should just be something in service to that. Nothing more, nothing less. If your true inner nature is wearing corpse paint and a dinosaur costume, great. If it’s just wearing t-shirt and jeans, also great.
Paste: How would you say your on-stage style differs from your off-stage style?
Taraka: But I thought all the world’s a stage?
Paste: How has your style changed since you first started performing?
Taraka: When we first started playing out, we were playing mostly basement shows and DIY warehouse parties. We never really gave a second thought to our outfits. Whatever we were wearing when we rolled in was what we wore. No make-up or anything. We were like—SO PUNK—lol. Something shifted after we played this festival in Bologna in 2011… me and Nimai had both just broken up with boyfriends and were feeling pretty rough. Instead of trying to cover up our puffy mascara-streaked eyes, we decided to just fuckin own it and exacerbate how psycho we felt. We smeared lipstick down our chins like blood and globbed silver glitter under our eyes so it looked like pools of glitter tears. We looked so fucked up. It felt liberating. It was the realization that the stage gives you special permission to be a pure honest expression of whatever emotions you are feeling inside. Even the negative ones. And the performance becomes an almost shamanic-like means of exorcising those emotions and transforming them into something beautiful. I mean, ultimately all the world’s a stage, but the concert just gives you a safe place to play around with your role in a more playful way. I think we are having more fun exploring that now.
Paste: Of course, being sisters adds another element to this. How has it influenced your aesthetic?
Taraka: My sister and I are very yin and yang. I think we naturally gravitate towards styles that organically complement each other because our personalities complement each other. Nimai’s like a secret sorority girl from some demented parallel universe and I feel like some long lost knight that fell out of a burning monster truck. Somehow it all makes works out.
Paste: Do you have any funny style stories from growing up together?
Taraka: Growing up the only Hare Krishnas in a tiny redneck town in central Texas, I just remember me and Nimai both really wanting to fit in with the sports crowd. Because the sports crowd was basically THE ONLY CROWD, you know? We tried out for every team imaginable (even golf!), but never made any because the truth was we both sucked. We still wanted to look the part though, so we asked our parents to buy us some Nike gear. Our parents were both artists and we never really had any money growing up, so there was no way in hell they’d buy us that crap. So we got really good at taking sharpies and literally drawing Nike swooshes and Umbro diamonds on all our socks and shirts. They probably looked so ghetto and busted, but we still felt badass wearing them. Looking back on it, we should have started a freakin normcore tumblr account right then and there. We would have been so ahead of the curve.
Paste: Will you talk a little about your aesthetic philosophy in relation to clothing?
Taraka: There’s no real deep aesthetic philosophy to this except that if you think of yourself as a vessel, your clothing creates the shape of whatever spirit you want to channel through that vessel. Anyone who goes out to Urban Outfitters and buys a Nirvana shirt and a flannel are acutely aware of this principle. I just don’t really get the whole nostalgia thing. Seems less about channeling and more about trying to make yourself into mannequin of the past. I always try to look at fashion as something to be of service to the Now. It is the thin seam lining your inner and outer environments, so it should always seek to join them together in harmony, not separate them. If you are into the 90s, that’s totally cool, but maybe try to synthesize that interest with wherever you’re at physically/metaphysically NOW in 2016 so that a new sort of aesthetic relationship can be opened up.
Paste: Along with the new album, Xtreme Now, comes a new concept for Prince Rama. Will you talk a little about the extreme sports genre and the style surrounding it?
Taraka: Gladly! I’m in love with the extreme sports style and could rant about it all day. It’s the ultimate nihilist fashion statement, yet so completely in service to the Now. The aesthetic is hyper-functional, yet so unconsciously ahead of its time in terms of color combinations and materials and incorporation of text. The gratuitous amount of branding and logos connects it to an ancient line of patronage; much like medieval knights dawning their family crest on their shields, only now the royal families are marked by Monster Energy M’s and Nike swooshes. I see extreme sports fashion as functionally linked to a longstanding shamanic tradition connecting humans to the supernatural. Whereas shamans go into dream states to cross thresholds into other dimensions, extreme sports athletes similarly have to enter into various trance-like “flow states” in order to cross extreme physical barriers. There are “squirrel-suits” that allow humans to come the closest to flying than any other attempt in human history using highly sophisticated sci-fi synthetic materials. Bottom line, of all the style-genres it inherently has to have the flashiest color combos, the most futuristic designs, and the highest caliber of smoke and mirrors to cover up for the fact that this might be THE LAST OUTFIT YOU EVER WEAR. Every time someone puts in a squirrel suit and jumps off a cliff, that could be it. It’s really heavy when you think about it. That gravity is woven into every neon thread.
Paste: Are there any specific artists who have influenced your style?
Taraka: Botticelli. Bosch. Matthew Barney. Bernard Wilhelm. Axl Rose. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Shane McConkey. Da Vinci. Isa Genzken. Carrie.
Paste: Any favorite places to shop or find one of a kind wardrobe pieces?
Taraka: We are blessed to have extremely talented friends who make most of our outfits and save us from the trauma of ever having to go shopping. Courtney Gamble (Messqueen) is a local Brooklyn designer we collaborate with to make most of our stage pieces. Steffy Yar Yar and Moves are some others. They’re all so rad.
Paste: The makeup present at your shows transcend just the stage. What are some of your beauty essentials?
Taraka: A positive attitude. If you’re in a wiggity wack mood, it doesn’t matter how much make-up you cake on yourself—you’ll never look good. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you gotta make sure your eyes are on straight. Radiate beauty from within. Sounds cheesy, but it’s like the #1 Ultimate Essential. The rest is just dumb shit you can buy at CVS.
Paste: If you had to sum up your personal style in three words, what would they be?
Taraka: 100% XTREME NOW.