Redefining trauma through the art of music
Electronic pop and R&B singer-songwriter Terra Lopez released her first full-length solo project as Rituals of Mine in 2020, presenting people with HYPE NOSTALGIA, a deeply emotional and passionate 13-track record reflecting on Lopez’s personal accounts of grief and trauma through a “pre-loss perspective.”
In creating this album, Lopez met with her emotions and faced the traumatic events she endured in the past five years as she aimed to process her trauma by reimagining it to be simply a part of nature. Lopez discovered there is a purity that lies within traumatic events, and it is that purity that can supersede the darkness attached to grief. HYPE NOSTALGIA looks deep into their past to create an expressional art-piece that reflects their process of grief and the discoveries that followed it. The duo wanted to “create an album that was not centered solely on grief but that carried the duality in which grief and joy could co-exist,” Lopez wrote on her Instagram page.
Having lost her father to suicide in 2015, and shortly after losing her best friend Lucas Johnson, Lopez reveals to her fans “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 of these years.”
HYPE NOSTALGIA reflects the emotional task of processing trauma. As a strong woman and leader of the LGBTQ+ community, while Lopez dealt with her past, she faced the challenges that follow this in the entertainment industry. Using art as an outlet for her grief, there was a moment in this journey where Lopez found herself at a halt. Carpark Records stated, “Art had always been her outlet, but it was no longer a coping mechanism that worked. Trauma had taken away her voice, leaving Lopez unable to sing for a year.”
The Carpark Records statement about the album reveals a genuineness that heightens the listening process of the record on a more sympathetic and impactful level. It allows listeners to look past the R&B undertones and heavy baselines that make up the dark, downtempo club vibe of the album and further opened the listener’s ears to a more sympathetic intake, allowing the audience to refocus on the bleeding emotion behind her lyrics and vocals.
With contributions from Wes Jones and Dev the Goon, the production of HYPE NOSTALGIA is first-class and exceptionally clean. Using hip-hop-inspired baselines and including samples from Lopez’s 1993 childhood cassette collection only adds to the personal value of this album as listeners find themselves tracking down the soundbites of these clips, embellishing the creative ambiance of the album as a whole. The overall organization of the tracks of this album is phenomenal as we follow Lopez telling her story.
Two tracks specifically speak about women’s empowerment as “Come Around Me” represents Lopez’s personal struggle as a gay woman of color in the music industry and where she finds herself today. “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,” said Lopez. “Free Throw” featuring KRIS is an exceptionally fun track as it highlights Lopez’s quick rap-like flow behind her vocals, similarly to what we hear from her in “Heights,” in which her rapid-fire speaking lyrical flow coincides with the rhythm of changing melodies.
Speaking of the inspiration behind the album, Lopez titles the heaviest track on the record “Trauma,” expressing perseverance behind the psychological effect of trauma itself, followed by the short two-minute “Post Trauma,” which reflects the embodiment of the sound behind grief, providing listeners with a feeling of distorted processing, what one might feel while grieving.
Lopez worked on her own vocal engineering on “Reflex” and “Expectations,” both reflecting her strong lyrical value and distant-sounding percussion in the beats. The last song on the album, “The Last Wave,” concludes this artistic piece together. Distinctly different from the other tracks, on “The Last Wave” people find Lopez entering a romantic place as she sings from deep in her heart to the rhythm of a beautiful melancholy piano. Lopez revealed the emotional impact this song, being specifically about her father, had on her in the creation of the 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.”
The overall individuality of HYPE NOSTALGIA projects throughout it as it provides listeners with multiple upbeat, dark, rhythmic and cohesive music, while also holding deep meaning and emotional value behind each track.