“One day Matthew and I were going on a leisurely drive in the countryside and suddenly spotted this downed plane in the middle of a field. I wasn’t sure if it had just crashed, or if it had been there for some time. From the looks of it, it appeared as though it had just dropped out of the sky.
We stopped and approached it slowly, not sure if we were about to come across a dead body or a trapped person in need of help. My heart was suspended in my chest.
There was no one.
The plane was empty.
After a bit of sleuthing, we found this local news story about a student pilot that crashed the plane a couple months earlier– a teenage girl– 17 years old– who like me, loved skydiving and extreme sports. She was less than a mile from the airport. She survived unscathed.
Something about this plane gave me a nauseous feeling.
Deep down, I kind of felt like that teenage girl, dropped from the sky like Lucifer with no wings and no guidebook on how to navigate this ever-crumbling Paradise Lost. We returned to the scene and re-staged the crash with super 8mm film and smoke bombs.
The rest of the film follows this character– a fictional hybrid between my fantasy of the teenage pilot and my own inner teenager– through a stumbling post-traumatic haze, awkwardly trying to navigate her way back into society. For locations, we chose familiar yet unplaceable post-apocalyptic landscapes that echo this feeling of loss, amnesia, loneliness, and fossilized violence. We shot in the Florida swamps near my adolescent home, as well as some of my former haunts in New York City, places I used to call home, all of which feel like strangers to me now. Somehow this concept of home currently feels totally alien and unattainable. Somehow I feel like we all just survived a collective plane crash and are trying our best to “forget it” and “get back to normal”, yet deep down something doesn’t feel right. Something feels horribly wrong. We are like ghosts stumbling in a black and white film of our former lives, trying to re-trace the comfort of our old familiar haunts, seeking shelter and finding only set pieces. “Deep Hollow” is an ode to that personal and collective emptiness, to that private limbo, war-torn and battle fatigued, exhausted yet stoic and full of tender beauty.”
Directed, shot, and edited by Matthew Hoffman on Super 8mm film.
Since the breakup of the legendary underground cult duo Prince Rama, former frontwoman Taraka has thrown herself headlong into the dark existential world of her “inner teenager,” merging bastard elements of outsider-psych, post-edenic grunge, kaleidoscopic punk and post-adolescent angst to create her debut solo album.
A departure from Prince Rama’s sparkly dance-pop sound, WELCOME TO PARADISE LOST is a primal, electrifying, dirty and unapologetically life-affirming celebration of ennui and disillusion. Taraka’s disheveled anthems fuse a combination of lo-fi opulence with ecstatic punk ritual, like the vivid visions of the disturbed daughter of Kate Bush and Johnny Rotten who drank ayahuasca at the gates of Warped Tour ’02.
Welcome to Paradise Lost was conceived while Taraka (pronounced like maraca) was living in solitary confinement in a hot Texas gallery with a live serpent in an attempt to return to a pre-internet Eden. She was without a band, without a label, without a future, and had vowed never to make music again. Disenchanted with the world, she sat in her trashed simulated Garden of Eden smoking mapacho and listening to old school punk, grunge, and obscure psych records that excited her as a teenager in a small redneck town, learning to skateboard and discovering her first power chord.
One night she picked up an electric guitar and hit record. The songs started pouring out– pep rallies for total failure, hymns to binary code, love songs to walls– most recorded in one take, sometimes as she was channeling them in order to capture that primordial electricity of creation, a feeling of “making out under the bleachers with infinity.” Her pals Ryan Sciaino (Spank Rock, Prince Rama, Win Win) and Tim Koh (Gang Gang Dance, Conan Mockasin, Haunted Graffiti) later helped flesh them out, pimp them up, and eventually Welcome to Paradise Lost took form like the intricate layers of a fucked up Bosch painting, or collaged jingles for a lost 1970s cult children’s TV show that split off via the mandela effect.
Taraka realized perhaps paradise is nothing but another empty societal construction– a mirage-like prison of perfection– and the moment it is lost, we are left with the glow of some inner forgotten freedom. The kind of freedom once found in the piss puddles of a Beatles concert or the face of Buddha winking inside the mud of a fossilized Dr. Martens footprint in an abandoned mosh pit. There is a playfulness here, but a lurking poetry as well. Some of the first lines of the album begin with the fall of humankind: “I ate forbidden fruits and with their seeds I grew a silhouette…” and maybe this is where the magic of Welcome to Paradise Lost truly begins; not some shallow resurrection of past nostalgia, but a dangerous and sometimes absurd spiritual quest for freedom, rebellion, and that awkwardly honest place within us all that defies logic and authority so urgently needed right now.
Welcome To Paradise Lost
Release Date: Oct. 8, 2021
01 Once Again
02 Welcome To Paradise Lost
03 Sad Blue Eyes
04 Ride Or Die
06 Total Failure
08 Lucifer Exit
09 So Happy For You
10 Practice Makes Perfect
11 Bad Bonezz
12 Thank You
13 Deep Hollow
14 Old Gloves