Rituals of Mine Break Down Their Downtempo New LP “HYPE NOSTALGIA” Track by Track
Terra Lopez opens up about the doomed relationships, generational trauma, and music industry bullshit that inspired her latest record.
Terra Lopez’s journey from the foundation of her ambient pop group Silent and Clementine to the present moment has been anything but linear. After a number of lineup and name changes—they released music as Sister Crayon before settling on Rituals of Mine—2020 sees the moniker now belonging to Lopez alone, who’s releasing HYPE NOSTALGIA as the shapeshifting project’s first venture into solo territory.
Which makes sense, considering the context it was written under. After reckoning with generational trauma, ill-fated relationships (as well as the long-distant kind), and all the frustrations of navigating the music industry as a queer woman, NOSTALGIA—despite its downtempo demeanor—is utterly cathartic. Over tranquil beats supplied by collaborators Dev the Goon and Wes Jones, Lopez opens up about past and present traumas in a way that feels empowering to listen to (perhaps never more so than when she teams up with Kris Esfandiari on “Free Throw,” a tag-team takedown of the music industry).
With the album finally arriving today, Lopez went in-depth on some of the ideas and experiences which shaped the album, from the recent loss of her father to the much-needed closure she felt when wrapping up production on the LP, all in a way that feels—in her words—“100 percent genuine.” Listen to the record and read on below. The record’s out today via Carpark—grab it here.
The opening of this song gets me every single time. This is one of the very first songs we wrote for the album. My producer, Wes Jones, sent me this idea to check out without thinking that we’d use it, and I wrote to it almost immediately. I love footwork and was drawn to the snare hit and those deep bass notes—I knew that this had to be on the album. I remember sitting in my room humming the lines “You used to love, you used to” while listening to this song. I knew that I wanted this to be more of a vibe than a full song—I approached it more like a house track where you usually hear a couple lines repeated. It was important to me that the track itself had space to breathe. This song feels like a rebirth.
2. “Come Around Me”
This song almost didn’t make it on the album due to a lost session file. I was so determined to have this song on the record though that I told my producer that we’d just use the MP3 demo version, but he wasn’t having it. Luckily, our co-producer Dev the Goon is a wizard and went into the next room in the studio and within thirty minutes had recreated an even better version of the instrumental! We were all blown away. The lyrics came fairly quickly—I wrote the chorus first and it set the tone for the rest of it. It was important to me to have listeners hear what I had been through since our last record and where I’m at now. I’ve been through so much shit and I’m still here, but because I’ve been through so much, I’m not going to settle for anything less than 100 percent genuine. If someone wants to be in my life, they’re going to have to show up. Consistently. And I’ll do the same. I wanted a no-frills, straightforward song where I could be fully present with the daily stressors that I deal with.
This is probably my favorite song we’ve ever written because it came so naturally and is like nothing we’ve made before. Which was also scary because it was so out of our wheelhouse sonically. It’s such a bedroom-pop song that evokes pure nostalgia for me. I had just had a big falling out with my long-time bandmate. We had grown apart, outgrown one another, and needed to go separate ways, and in a lot of ways it was the biggest breakup I had ever had. The song is about acknowledging my part in the breakup, realizing that I don’t have to shift blame and reconciling with the fact that people just grow apart sometimes. For a long time I believed that friendships could truly last forever (and maybe they can) but I had to face some heavy realizations about a few friendships that summer, and this song was the direct result of that.
The writing process for this song came in pieces. I wrote the first verse and then got stuck on the chorus, so we planned a night studio session with Wes and I where we workshopped the chorus until we came up with something we loved. The different melodies throughout this song get me so excited. I love the twists and turns of the phrases and the overall fluidity. “Heights” is a gentle, vibey diss track that you should listen to on night drives.
While working on this record, I was reading a lot about intergenerational trauma and how the cycle of trauma and PTSD can truly be genetic. I became obsessed with this idea because it resonated so deeply with me as I never quite had the words to how I have always felt when it came to my family, our histories, and my own traumas. The phrase “Trauma could never figure me out” is a direct reference to how, despite the circumstances in which I was brought up around, I have persevered. I continue to preserve. I am actively breaking the cycle.
6. “Post Trauma”
How do you embody the sound of grief? We took a stab at it and came up with something that gives me chills every time.
7. “Free Throw”
This song was the very last song that we wrote for the album. Kris Esfandiari and I have been long time friends and have wanted to work together for years and we finally made it happen. Collaborating with her and Wes on this was so much fun. The energy in the studio that night was frenetic. We wanted to create a direct, heavy track that addressed all of the bullshit that she and I have experienced in the music industry. Being queer women of color, we have a lot of stories of fellow music peers fucking us over, ex-management making wrong moves, etc., so we wanted a space where we could air it out but not names.
Dev the Goon sent me this track and I fell in love immediately with the strange bass line and the distant percussion. This track is pure vibe—I’m obsessed with it even after all this time. It’s also one of the first songs that some of my vocal production from demos made its way onto the final version. The background vocals on the chorus are from the original demo. We tried re-tracking them, but it didn’t feel right. Sometimes it serves the song better if you choose vibe over technical logistics.
9. “65th St.”
I didn’t know how to approach all of the heaviness from my past traumas. What do you do when you have had so much happen to you but can’t find the proper words to explain it? This song was that for me. The first verse addresses how it felt to get the call from my step-mother that my father had just taken his own life. It was news that I could never have anticipated even though it felt like I had been holding my breath and bracing myself for this very news my whole life. And that’s kinda how I’ve felt about everything in my life, at least when it comes to my family. I am in a constant state of anxiety, worrying about those that I love so much because I know that loss could be imminent. It’s probably a very dark way of viewing life, but it’s just been my experience—so how do you change that? I look at my family history, the absence of information, and within that absence try to locate who I am and why I am the way that I am. The concept of breaking the cycle is rooted in a real way on this track.
This was one of the earlier tracks that Dev, Wes, and I wrote together on a writing session in St. Augustine, Florida. My girlfriend had just moved to Montreal for a year for grad school and I was living in California and navigating things long distance was heavily on my mind. We wrote the song in one session.
We were at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach and during a session break, Wes pulled me aside and showed me this ambient instrumental idea he had made. My body had an immediate reaction to it. We turned the mic on in the live room and I improved over it and this is one of the takes. Six months after losing my father, one of my best friends passed away in an accident. I wanted to create something solely for him, to honor the impact he had and continues to have on my life. “222” was what he went by, and now that he’s gone I swear I see the numbers 222 at least once every single day. The sample at the end is a recording of myself when I was four years old.
12. “Hope U Feel”
This song is for the team that makes up Rituals of Mine: Wes Jones, Adam Pierce, Dev the Goon. It’s my way of thanking them for believing in me all these years. It means more to me than they will ever know. I know that one day we will win. Just working with them is success to me. The outro is a sample of my father and I when I was four years old. Every single time I hear it, it makes me cry. It’s my way of telling him that I understand now that he was proud of me, despite him never saying it. I get it finally.
13. “The Last Wave”
This was the very first song that we wrote back in 2017 in St. Augustine. It was another idea that Wes had made that he nonchalantly showed me and I asked him to record. I went into the live room and improved for about thirty minutes. Afterwards, I sat down and wept for the first time for everything. It was a release that I didn’t even know I needed. I knew it was going to be the last song on the album. It feels fitting. It feels like closure.