Photo Credit: Jeffrey LaTour
We sat down with Terra Lopez of ‘Rituals Of Mine,’ an indie synth-pop/R&B duo from Sacramento, California and got chatting about her colorful career, trials and tribulations and the struggles of being an artist through these dystopian times.
How did ‘Rituals Of Mine’ come about, and do you find it easy to differentiate yourself from ‘Sister Crayon’?
Terra: I started ‘Sister Crayon’ as a joke project, an alter ego which quickly started acquiring fans, and I really wasn’t expecting that. Eventually, ‘Sister Crayon’ developed into a whole band which went international. It was fantastic. It just became very apparent that through the evolution of the project, it was changing, and I started focusing more on myself, so I felt the name sister Crayon didn’t represent what we were doing anymore, What I was doing. In 2017, we changed the name to Rituals of Mine, because I felt that we needed a fresh start.
How would you say the sound that you’re creating right now has changed from your last EP “Sleeper Hold”?
It’s very different, actually. ‘Sleeper Hold,’ I felt was a great bridge from our last album devoted to our new record, which will be coming out. The new album, to me, is a lot more refined, a lot more beat heavy. We’re diving more into the R&B genre, which I’ve always loved. I’m just exploring new elements of my voice on this new record.
Can you tell us a little bit about the ‘This is What it feels like” art installation? What narratives and themes do you find yourself exploring nowadays?
In 2017, it was an idea that I had, which I very quickly wrote on a napkin, and it was during the time the #MeToo movement had just started(or maybe just before it began). I was feeling very overwhelmed by hearing my friend’s stories of street harassment, harassment in general, and assault. I’m the type of person where I will always try to come up with a solution, like,” What can I do to fix this problem?” So the art installation idea came, even though I had zero experience with art installations. I came up with the idea to try to help create compassion. I felt if men could experience what women go through daily, it might change their behavior. That was definitely the intention behind it, and it grew to something I least expected.
I think social justice has always been a part of who I am, so I think anything I do, whether its music or art is very political, and that’s how I’m always going to be. The new record touches upon depression, grief, loss, and kind of just what I’ve been going through for the last four years of my life. So, it’s all combined into those feelings along with current political feelings.
Based on what you said with the narratives in the art installation and what you’re going through in life right now, do you think the music fills in the gaps to what you want to say?
Music has always been very therapeutic for me. Doing music allows me to express myself in ways I can’t with language.
Do you have any other artistic avenues outside of music?
Yeah, I do. I want to do so much. I’m in the process of writing a book, and I’m also restarting this podcast that I began in 2017 that I had to stop due to touring.
Are there any artists you find yourself going back to in these crazy times?
Yeah, honestly I’ve been listening to the new ‘Four Tet’ Album, it’s really good. I love electronic music. That’s always been my thing because it’s easy to listen to and to work to. So if I’m writing, I can write to that, and it’s not too distracting. It just makes me feel more positive. Apart from this, I’ve been into this artist called ‘Nico Turner.’ She’s also one of my best friends, and I’ve been listening to her non-stop. Kris Esfandiari is also one of my best friends, and she has a ton of projects; ‘King Woman,’ ‘Sugar High,’ ‘Kris,’ ‘Nightcrawler.’ So I’ve been listening to all her stuff. I’ve also been listening to the new ‘Jay Electronica’ record and a lot of rapper ‘Saba.’ I love Chicago footwork, Detroit footwork; I like Teklife, any folks from there. A lot of Ryuichi Sakamoto when I write. His classical pieces are just beautiful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?
Ooh, that’s a good question. Um, I think the best piece of advice I ever got was from ‘Tricky.’ We went on tour with him maybe two years ago, and he pulled me aside after the show at our merch table in front of the fans and just spoke to me for Thirty minutes about how I need to keep doing what I’m doing. It was crazy! He said that I’m the next ‘Massive Attack’ and how I’m onto something, and that I just have to keep going, and, “People might not get it at first, but they will. Trust me!” Luckily, I had a friend recording the whole conversation, so I go back to it from time to time when I forget or when I’m losing some confidence. For him to see anything in me was really meaningful.
Coming to the current situation regarding Coronavirus, how has it affected you personally, and the artistic approach you have to your work? Are you planning for the future in any way? Do you find yourself writing more in this time of isolation and social distancing?
The virus has deeply affected my project. We’ve had to cancel a bunch of shows and festival dates this entire spring. My bandmates are completely out of work. They work at a music venue that has had to cancel every single event through May—it’s a very scary time, just worrying about my bandmate, worrying about what we’re going to do. It has definitely made me think out of the box. Yesterday, we recorded a live stream that we’re going to release within the next couple of days so that we can connect with our fans. The world is quite literally on pause right now, which I never thought would happen. Before all of this, I always wished that I had more time to focus on Ableton, or writing a book, or writing songs for this project, and I just felt that I never really had time. Right now, we’re in this very strange, interesting time where we do have time. Time sort of feels limitless right now, and so I’m trying to embrace it and see it as positively as I can. I’m trying just to be as creative as I can just for the sake of creating, and if something comes out of this that I release, that will be awesome. I think for me, it’s about getting back to just creating. It’s an exciting time where we are forced to pause, in a society where that’s just not what we’re taught to do. Especially in this industry, we’re being forced to stop and truly think of our next move, and who we are. I’m trying to take that time to redefine or transform or just maybe stop for a second cause I never do.
What would you say the highs and lows of your journey are?
I think anyone in the industry can easily say that this industry is such a roller coaster. The highs for me personally have been touring with the incredible bands that we had the opportunity to. ‘Garbage’, ‘Deftones’, ‘Tricky’, ‘Built To Spill’ and so many more bands. Touring the world has truly been such a dream, and I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been able to travel if it wasn’t for music. Also, collaborating with all of the people I’ve met over the last decade doing this, it’s really truly how I connect with individuals. Signing to a major record label was a high. It was very interesting to sign with Warner Bros., and also signing with Carpark Records (where we are now) is so exciting to me. They’re an incredible label that I truly feel so supported at– so those are some of the highs. The lows are the constant No’s. We’ve had so many no’s and so many failures throughout this experience. Including rejections and bad shows, booking agents not understanding who we were. The experience at Warner Bros. was also a low, but the good thing is that when we got out of that, we had our music intact with us, and they didn’t shelf us, which I’m actually grateful for. Some songs we recorded at Warner Bros. but didn’t release will be on the next record.
A silver lining and one thing that I’m hoping for with this Coronavirus is that it truly does shed light on the life of artists and the realities that many artists face, because as you probably know, a lot of artists are losing work right now. A lot of artists are just feeling hopeless right now, and we depend on touring and depend on this work to sustain us. If anything, we as a society should start treating our artists better and start seeing just how on the margins artists live.
Can you tell us about ‘Bitchwave,’ your Record Label? Can you let us know about any upcoming stuff that we should keep our ears open to?
Yeah, we’re actually working on some stuff for the end of the year. The situation now has somewhat put a halt on some projects. Really were focusing so much on the Rituals project at Carpark, but hopefully, we want to release some work in the fall and create a space for artists that don’t normally get that space.
It was great talking to you Terra, and we hope that in the future with the help of Carpark, we get to bring some of you guys down to India!
Oh definitely! I would love that, so let’s try and make it happen! Stay safe, and it was great talking to you guys!
Words by Adithya Mathews & Akhil Hemdev