Same experiment, new Rituals: Alumna-fronted band Rituals of Mine gears up for national tour, major-label debut

Rituals of Mine
Dani Fernandez, left, and singer Terra Lopez (’07, English) have signed a major record deal with Warner Bros. Records. Formerly Sister Crayon, the electronic duo will release their major-label debut as Rituals of Mine. (Photo courtesy of Raoul Ortega)

When Dani Fernandez and Terra Lopez started writing music under the name Sister Crayon a year after Lopez graduated from Sac State, the electronic project served as a much-needed creative outlet, a rich learning experience, and an intense, grand – and definitely unorthodox – experiment. It still is.

Back then, a major-label record deal was the farthest thing from the young performers’ minds. Eight years, six records, countless concerts, and a name change later, that which seemed so far away is now a reality.

In August, the newly christened Rituals of Mine hits the road ahead of its major-label debut, Devoted, after inking a deal with Warner Bros. Records in spring 2016. The band joins Sacramento rock legends Deftones on tour through some of the biggest venues on the West Coast.

“When we first found out, Dani and I literally cried, just because it was so unexpected,” Lopez says. “We’ve been working for so long and so hard at this, there’s been a lot that we’ve experienced, that there were a lot of tears. Happy tears.”

Lopez (’07, English) has been writing music for more than 15 years. In 2008, when she linked up with Fernandez, the band’s beat producer, the two began crafting rich, haunting electronic melodies layered with Lopez’s introspective lyrics and stirring vocals.

Their style has evolved over the years, but they remain pioneers of a burgeoning Sacramento electronic music scene that they helped shape. Rituals of Mine/Sister Crayon is among the best-known electronic artists – along with bands like Team Sleep and Death Grips – to come out of the capital region. They mix organic instruments, including live drums, with computer-produced compositions in their recordings and live stage show.

It’s no easy feat: Lopez says some practices are spent entirely on learning new programs and interfaces, tweaking production, and figuring out new ways to build their sound and presence.

“We definitely always stuck out and didn’t fit in to a specific genre or sound, and I think that’s still very much the case,” Lopez says. “We’ve always strived to not be pigeonholed in a specific genre, and because we’ve been a little outside the box, we’ve been able to tour with hip-hop artists, metal acts, electronic artists, ambient artists, rock artists … just all over the map.

“If music is genuine, there doesn’t really need to be a genre.”

That is never more apparent than when looking at Ritual of Mine’s upcoming tour schedule: They follow up their August tour with one of the heaviest rock acts (and now label mates) to come out of the River City with a showcase tour supporting indie mainstays The Album Leaf through September.

Their major-label debut, Devoted, originally released in 2015 under an independent label, is being remixed and remastered by producing legend Tom Coyne, who has produced albums for the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd, and will be out later this fall.

In addition to her music career, Lopez works as a publicist for national public relations firm Terrorbird, promoting other bands and artists. She says her English education from Sac State helped shape how she writes professionally in the PR world.

In eight years, Lopez and Fernandez have traveled a long road: The two have endured personal tragedy, band members coming and going, and moves to and from different cities, and they have fought to find their place in life and in a music scene that is always evolving.

At last, Lopez says, this great, strange experiment is paying off.

“That’s what Sister Crayon has been all these years: an experiment,” Lopez says. “And luckily, we’re so grateful that people have responded well, listened, and kept listening. The process has evolved so much, just as Dani and I both have. We just want to learn as much as we can and hone our craft, and be better always.”

Rituals of Mine kicks off its tour Aug. 23 in Fresno. Catch them closest to Sacramento at the Greek Theatre on Aug. 26 in Berkeley, and watch for Devoted, out later this fall.

Hornet to take reins at one of the West’s biggest banks

Talk about capital gains: This week, The Sacramento Bee reported that Hornet alumnus Cort O’Haver will be taking over the top jobs at Umpqua Holdings Corp. – one of the biggest financial institutions on the West Coast with more than 350 branches – in January 2017.

In the biggest move of his career, O’Haver will take over as the organization’s president and CEO, as well as chair of its Board of Directors.

The former Sac State English major and current president of Umpqua Bank, O’Haver (’86, English) got into finance relatively late.

Once he did, he never looked back.

O’Haver excelled in banking school before moving into various management positions throughout Northern California.

Next January, he takes over an institution that has seen unprecedented growth in the past two decades. Check out this week’s story in The Sacramento Bee below for an in-depth look at Cort’s journey through the world of finance:

Sacramento State alum will take over top Umpqua Bank posts in 2017 – The Sacramento Bee

Unseen Heroes celebrate the region’s roots with Sacratomato Week & Festival

Sacratomato Week runs June 18-23 and will culminate with a festival at Sutter’s Fort. (Sacramento State/Jayla Lee)

Younger generations may not be aware, but Sacramento has a long history with tomatoes – so much so that decades ago, the city was nicknamed “The Big Tomato.” There was even a proposal to paint the giant water tower along Interstate 5 in South Sacramento to resemble a big red berry.

Fast-forward to the present, and that history is more than enough reason to throw a party.

On Monday, July 18, the third annual Sacratomato Week kicks off as a six-day love letter to all things tomato. Hosted by the Midtown Business Association and centered in the city’s Sutter District, the week features the area’s best restaurants and nightlife – including Biba, Red Rabbit and Paragary’s – boasting tomato-themed menus. The week culminates with the Sacratomato Festival at Sutter’s Fort on Saturday, July 23.

Roshaun Davis of Unseen Heroes
Unseen Heroes founders Roshaun (pictured) and Maritza Davis are behind some of the region’s most popular events and are producing the Sacratomato Festival. (Sacramento State/Jayla Lee)

When there’s a big celebration of local culture highlighting the people and amenities that make a particular area special, it should come as no surprise that Unseen Heroes are behind it. Since 2008, founders (and Sac State alums) Maritza and Roshaun Davis have been building Sacramento’s cultual identity one epic experience at a time. The couple are behind some of Sacramento’s most popular events – Gather: Oak Park, the Midtown Farmers Market, GOOD: Street Food + Design Market – and have branded and marketed some of midtown’s hottest businesses.

When it comes to commemorating something special, albeit a bit quirky, about Sacramento’s historical identity, the Heroes are a natural fit.

“Our goal for Unseen Heroes and for our city is to show love to our city and to give people a reason to stay, live here, and to be able to find collision spaces to meet one another,” Maritza says.

Sacramento’s history with the tomato goes back to the turn of the 20th century. River levees constructed in the early 1900s allowed for a profusion of fruits and vegetables to spring forth from rich Delta soil. By the 1920s, Sacramento was a center of the fruit and vegetable canning industry.

The city was home to some of the world’s largest canneries, including the Libby, McNeill & Libby cannery on Alhambra Boulevard that is now an office park. California Packing Co., known for its Del Monte veggie brand, operated four canneries in the city; and by the mid-1900s, Campbell’s Soup and the Bercut-Richards Cannery had both set up shop in “The Big Tomato.” As a result, though a hub for all things canned, Sacramento became known best for its love of the tomato.

One doesn’t need to know all that – or, frankly, any of it – to enjoy next weekend’s festival. Instead, patrons can sample special food items and drinks from local restaurants, mix something refreshing at the craft Bloody Mary bar, catch cooking demos from the area’s best chefs, and dance to live music within the walls of historic Sutter’s Fort.

It is yet another signature blend of local culture for which Unseen Heroes have come to be known. And if last year and their past events are any indication, it’ll be a lively, crowded affair.

Sacratomato Week runs July 18-23, and the Sacratomato Festival is from 4-8 p.m. July 23 at Sutter’s Fort. Check it out to get a taste of what the Davises are all about, and keep an eye out for their Made at Sac State feature profile and video — coming soon!