MEAWW's Basement Tapes: Rituals of Mine's 'Hype Nostalgia' sees Terra Lopez grapple with overcoming loss
After forcing herself to continue creating music and performing despite her pain, Lopez finally slowed down, sought help and rediscovered herself
Indie-pop, electronic and alternative R&B duo Rituals of Mine return with their third album, 'Hype Nostalgia', which releases on September 25 on Carpark Records. 'Hype Nostalgia' reckons with the emotional rollercoaster Rituals of Mine’s vocalist Terra Lopez has been riding the past few years and reimagines it.
Rituals of Mine started off as Silent and Clementine in Sacramento, California in 2010, led by Lopez with Dani Fernandez playing MPC and SPD-SX. The duo was later joined by keys player Genaro Ulloa and drummer Nicholas Suhr. Declaring a desire to not "be shy anymore," Lopez rebranded to Sister Crayon, allowing her to adopt a different alter ego. Later in 2010, Sister Crayon contributed a cover of 'The Bewlay Brothers' to Manimal Vinyl's tribute to David Bowie titled 'We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie'. Their self-titled debut EP followed, with their full-length debut album 'Bellow' dropping in 2011.
In 2015, Lopez lost her father to suicide and six months later her best friend passed away in a water accident. She went from being a high-functioning depressed person to dealing with the most crippling mental health experience of her life. In the interim, several more EPs followed before the band dropped their 2016 album 'Devoted', additionally announcing they had signed with Warner Brother's records and would be changing their name to Rituals of Mine. After parting ways with Fernandez in the fall of 2017, Lopez reclaimed Rituals of Mine as a solo project. By 2018, Lopez began the healing process and found therapy and medication that worked for her. Drummer Adam Pierce, who joined as a touring drummer in 2016, would become an official member in 2019. Rituals of Mine's EP 'Sleeper Hold' followed soon after.
This tumultuous period paired personal trauma with the creative process, something that can be equal parts traumatizing and cathartic. With 'Hype Nostalgia', Lopez wanted to create a soundscape from a pre-loss perspective, revealing how the darkness she experienced was just a microcosm of her being. 'Hype Nostalgia' essentially asks the question: If you could recreate a time before you experienced the most extreme grief of your life, would you do it? For Lopez, this train of thought reflects the culmination of the last few years. Speaking about the loss she endured, the singer shares, "Those two events within that six month-period, forever changed me, and I'm only now starting to feel like I've processed it after all these years." Processing events like these can be hard enough on its own, but for Lopez, this coincided with a tour, signing to a major label, and working on new music. She never slowed down and neither did her emotions.
Though art had always been her outlet, it was no longer a coping mechanism that worked. Trauma had taken away her voice, leaving Lopez unable to sing for a year. It wasn’t until 2018 when she decided to go to therapy and began taking medication for the first time that she could process the trauma she had experienced, not only in the recent years but also the intergenerational trauma she discovered in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). But for all that darkness and the healing that followed, 'Hype Nostalgia' is more than just a record about loss. It's a journey to self-rediscovery that exists beyond loss.
Sure, there are heavy elements to the record: dark synths, future R&B undertones, propulsive bass, and moody lyrics, but the softness of Lopez’s vocals elicits a quiet confidence. The self-assured lead single 'Come Around Me', the most straightforward song Lopez has ever written, confronts being taken advantage of as a gay woman of color in the music industry. For Lopez, this song bears her hopes that by offering a glimpse into her own experience, she could help open the door for listeners to confront their own mental health challenges, her music serving as a touchstone as they find their own way to process and heal.
Lopez enlists musician Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman, Nghtcrwlr), to tackle the same subject on the anthemic 'Free Throw', meditating on the fake support that comes from their male counterparts in the music industry. The bedroom pop-tinged 'Exceptions', which is the album’s wildcard, finds Lopez confronting her former bandmate leaving the project and the idea that people outgrow each other. As 'Hype Nostalgia' reflects on Lopez’s own journey in reconciling with the darkest parts of herself and her life, she wants it to be something that can help listeners with their own mental health. "I just want to help other people," Lopez says. "That's what really helped me stay focused throughout all of this."