Initially formed in 2009 as Sister Crayon, the acclaimed Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo Rituals of Mine — singer/songwriter Terra Lopez and percussionist Adam Pierce — have received attention and praise for a sound that possesses elements of 90s trip hop, footwork and downtempo R&B, and for years of relentless touring up and down the West Coast, playing house shows, DIY venues and basements with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree, and others. Adding to growing profile, the act’s first two albums — 2011’s Bellow and 2013’s Cynic — were released to critical acclaim.
2015 was a profoundly harrowing and difficult year for Lopez: her father committed suicide and several moths later, her best friend Lucas Johnson tragically died in an accident. Reeling from the grief of such inconsolable and unexpected loss, Lopez in a period of deep reflection felt the need to reassess her life and her work in Sister Crayon. She decided to put the Sister Crayon name to rest, moving forward with a new moniker — Rituals of Mine. As Terra Lopez wrote at the time, “It was a mantra that I repeated under my breath on a daily basis when the loss I was experiencing felt too heavy at times. Music, the act of creating, performing, touring, writing, singing, experimenting – all the rituals we have created to get through life.”
After years of obscuring her own story and emotions through metaphorical lyrics, Lopez felt a sudden confidence to write much more directly about her experiences and life as a queer woman of color. Lopez began fleshing out the material on what would become her Rituals of Mine debut Devoted with her longtime collaborator and producer Wes Jones, who helped turn her heartfelt writing on her trauma and personal growth into urgent and pulsating electronic tracks. Lopez then enlisted Adam Pierce to play drums, knowing that their background in metal percussion would provide an intensity that could match her own.
Last year was a very busy year for Lopez and Pierce. They opened for a handful of dates for The Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill’s co-headliing tour, including a Chicago area stop last April. They also opened for Garbage during the multi-plantium Grammy Award-winning band’s US tour. They also went on their first UK tour with JOVM mainstay Geographer and The Seshen.
Building upon that momentum, the duo’s latest effort, the Wes jones and Neal Pogue co-produced follow-up to Devoted, Sleeper Hold EP features the urgent and fiery anti-Trump Administration anthem “No Time To Go Numb,” and the glitchy, Timbaland electro R&B-like “Burst” and the EP’s latest single “Heavyweight.” Centered around a sleek and modern production featuring glitchy electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Lopez’s soulful yet plaintive vocals. Unlike, its immediate predecessors, the song is much more mournful, as it carries the enormous weight of heartache and grief — but while continuing to be driven by Lopez’s commitment to unvarnished and unfiltered emotional honesty, at all costs. “I made a promise to myself that I’m no longer going to play small or hide behind metaphors, that I’m going to really lean into self-confidence, self-reliance and take up space,” Lopez said in a statement to Billboard.
Interestingly, the recently released video for “Heavyweight” is a gorgeously shot, contemplative yet surreal and intimate visual inspired by the effects of grief and trauma on the mind, body and soul — particularly Lopez’s own, after her father’s suicide and the tragic death of her best friend. Lopez was approached by Pitch Her Productions, an organization that focuses on promoting womxn-identified filmmakers. Pitch Her Productions then paired the act with Ecuadorian-born, New York-based artist/filmmaker Domenica Garcia. Nearly the entire cast and crew of the video were womxn-identified and are womxn of color.
“We wanted to create a video that depicts the weight that grief imposes on anyone that experiences it; the ways in which we have to deconstruct, contort and carry grief with us in our day to day,” Lopez explains in press notes. “At the start of the video you see three womxn holding their cumbersome grief and traumas, having to learn how to move in the world with it. As the video goes on, you see that same grief and trauma decrease in size as the womxn learn how to navigate their world with it. That was the theme we wanted to focus on: we will all have to experience grief at some point in our lives, unfortunately. So, how do we learn how to cope? Grief never leaves you entirely but if you do the work and learn to move through it, you can see beyond it one day.”