If you could recreate a time before you experienced the most extreme grief of your life, would you do it? For Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez, she did just that. With her latest album HYPE NOSTALGIA – her first as a solo artist – Lopez wanted to create a soundscape from a pre-loss perspective, revealing how the darkness she experienced was just microcosms of her being.
HYPE NOSTALGIA reckons with the emotional rollercoaster Lopez has been riding the past few years, and reimagines it. In 2015, Lopez lost her father to suicide and six months later her best friend passed away in a water accident. “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,” Lopez says. 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.
Almost half a year after its release, Lopez has enlisted friends and heroes to reimagine tracks for the victory lap known as HYPE NOSTALGIA (Remixes). On the self-assured lead single “Come Around Me,” the most straightforward song Lopez has ever written, she confronts being taken advantage of as a gay woman of color in the music industry. “None of this fake shit when you come around me,” she sings breathlessly. And on the remix EP, it gets separate treatments from producers Baltra and Stund. Baltra’s uptempo, yet heavy, rendition kicks off the EP, while Stund’s house mix contrastingly closes it on a celebratory high note. Tune-Yards contributes with their take on “Trauma,” the heaviest track from HYPE NOSTALGIA, and increases the tension with urgent percussive elements.
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. Kareem Ali pitches up the vocals for a drum and bass track that maintains the track’s wildcard status even on the EP. “Tether,” the album’s opening track and mantra is handled by the album’s producer, Wes Jones. Jones adds a four-on-the-floor beat and amplifies the already dreamy feel of the track. 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.”