Sacramento duo, Rituals of Mine, emit a passionate and full-throttle stage presence that turns a light on in your heart while waxing and waning through the dark. Through a hypnotic batch of soulful tracks on their recent release, ‘Devotion’, which focus on heartbreak, loss and love, it is clear to feel the seamless and palpable synergy between Dani and Terra. I caught up with Terra to discuss their recent tour with legendary producer, Tricky, their upcoming projects and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Rituals of Mine?
Rituals of Mine consists of Dani Fernandez and myself (Terra Lopez). Live, we have our incredible drummer Adam Pierce.
Congratulations on the release of your studio album, ‘Devoted’. It is quite raw and lyrically powerful. Tell us about the creative process within shedding light upon your personal experiences throughout your music.
The recording process for Devoted was truly unique to us in that we recorded and created the album in a way that we had personally never done before. Dani and I flew out to St. Augustine, FL to meet up with our producer, Wes Jones. We flew out to this tiny studio called RBR Studios with a dozen or so half-written ideas – nothing very solid. Normally when we head into a studio, we have played the songs live many times so they are well worn in. But this experience was very raw – with us creating and recording off the top of our heads as we went for 2 straight solid weeks. We lived, breathed, slept in the studio. It was a very isolating environment which was beautiful because it led to zero distractions and a very intense focus. I was personally going through a raw breakup and dealing with the many emotions that naturally come with that so for me, it was pure therapy creating this record. I clung to these songs and for a while, these songs were my sole purpose for waking up in the morning.
You recently toured with the legendary Bristol mastermind, Tricky. Have you been a fan of his artistry for quite some time?
Tricky has absolutely influenced me since I was a teenager. When I first discovered his work, Portishead, & Bjork, my mind really cracked open and I finally understood that all the weird ideas and sounds I had in my head were okay to have, in fact they were vital. Tricky’s work and endless ability to experiment and be so brave truly inspired me to be the same way and to be unafraid to make mistakes because touring with him has shown me that you cannot make mistakes if you’re genuine and if you pour your soul into the music you are making.
How do you perceive music affects you and the world around you?
Music absolutely has changed my life and has truly been a source of therapy for me since I can remember. It’s been the one thing in my life that I could go to every time and immediately feel healed. It’s just pure and genuine and I think that music probably gives that sense of solace to many people. I imagine that is why we are so invested in music – why we create it, sacrifice everything to be able to create it, etc. It’s absolutely affected my life in the most positive of ways and has helped me immensely with depression, anxiety, etc.
If you were to sit under the table and listen to any two human beings speak to further influence your artistry, who would it be and why?
Jeff Buckley and Bjork. If the two of them could somehow have gotten together and spoken about music, creating, life, etc: I would probably put that on repeat every single day. I can’t imagine two artists who have influenced me more and I just find their philosophies on life, creating, music, art, passion so motivating. Those two weren’t/aren’t human to me – they are on another level entirely.
Tell us the story behind Terra and Dani coming together. Have the two of you known each other?
We met back in 2007 after her sister (who is one of my best friends) told me that I had to meet Dani. Her sister saw how I lived – which was I literally played and made music for hours in my bedroom every single day and she said that Dani was a conga percussionist who would probably really vibe well with me. As soon as we met, I shoved my old MPC 1000 in front of her and basically forced her to play house shows with me. I don’t think I ever asked her to be a part of this, I forced her. We immediately had a bond that I had never quite experienced before and it’s been that way ever since. She is family to me. We’ve been through it all by now, ups and downs- highs and lows. I think that is what makes our musical bond so strong and so effortless. We’ve literally gone through everything imaginable.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about your personal favorite pieces and the artists behind them.
I’ve never talked to a publication about my tattoos! I have 18 of them. Every single tattoo is very meaningful to me, which basically just means that I only get tattoos during difficult times in my life. It’s very rare for me to get a tattoo when I’m happy haha. I have but the majority of my tattoos are during difficult times and I think it’s because I can control that pain and that emotion during getting tattooed. It’s a very sacred and symbolic time for me. Some of my favorite tattoos represent very close and influential people in my life. These tattoos are not wholly elaborate but rather they are statements and very significant for my life. My father passed away last year to suicide and the very next week I had a two week long tour. I felt that I needed to have his name on me before I stepped on stage again and so the day before tour, I got his middle name “Lawrence” tattooed on my right arm. Sadly, 6 months after my father passed away, one of my best long time friends Lucas Johnson passed away in an accident and that very night of his death, I went and got his writing/tag name “222” tattooed onto my right inner wrist. I can look at any time and do every day at these two pieces and feel love and light and that means everything to me.
Some lighter tattoos that I have are literature related. I am a huge reader and have been always and so literature resonates with me as much as music does. I have one of my favorite e.e. Cummings poems tattooed on my left inner arm that covers my entire arm pretty much. I also have Rainer Maria Rilke’s two chapters about love and the difficulties of love tattooed on the left and right side of my chest “Bows and Eros”. My favorite author, Fernando Pessoa is tattooed on my right arm as well.
I tend to feel very intensely for those that inspire me and I oftentimes find myself getting either the artist’s name or work on me. I joke and say that I have a lot of dead guys on me- which is true. I have Elliott (for Elliott Smith) name on my right ankle, Jeff Buckley “Buckley” on my right arm, the cover for Sigur Ros’ ‘Takk’ record on my shoulder, Bjork’s “Undo” on my right wrist. All little reminders of what inspires me, why I create. Those tattoos are time capsules and represent significant moments in my life.
Lastly I have some Native American tattoos on me to represent my grandmother and Shoshone tribe (which I am). A red feather out of actual red rock ink and a stone.
Oh! And two friendship tattoos (one in which is for Dani – a tooth.) I have three missing teeth so I’m a bit fixated on them and she and I got matching tooth tattoos last year. I also have an ampersand for my best friend Michael who originally got that for his ex girlfriend so I got it to help change the meaning (once they broke up).
Any overall theme of mood that you’re trying to capture while writing songs? Or is it more so momentous and personal?
It’s very personal and we write songs always based on mood. Mood is the number one element to our work so I think usually whatever intense, emotional mood I am feeling in that moment is when we write. If I’m not feeling that way, we won’t write.
I caught your show at Webster Hall. Outstanding. Tell us about the energy you feel within the moment you step on stage.
That show was so beautiful and so definitive I feel. It was very powerful – the energy from the crowd and everything. I get into such a zone before I step on stage – I’d say probably about 45 mins before I step on stage I shut down and shut everyone out and I don’t talk. I just put on headphones and listen to music, stretch and visualize the show coming up. It helps me focus and prepare to work whatever it is that I need to work out during the show. I am usually a ball of nerves before I step on stage but as soon as the first note hits, I become stoic almost and usually am able to just get lost in what we are doing.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
Just thank you so much for the support. It means everything us to. We just want to keep working and creating and keep building so thank you all for supporting that!