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.

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Punk-rock legends trace origins to Sac State

From trashy horror flicks and macabre comics to skin-tight leather and ghoulish makeup, punk-rock pioneers The Cramps were masters of sordid kitsch and sleazy pop culture. They were also among the most influential and enduring rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time.

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Lux Interior (middle right) and Poison Ivy (middle left) on the cover of The Cramps’ first release in 1979. (Universal Music Group)

Few better embodied their era’s provocative punk-rock spirit than singer Lux Interior, an iconic frontman known as much for his music as for his wild stage presence and larger-than-life persona.

This year marks the 40th since Interior and his wife, guitarist Poison Ivy, founded the band, which recorded eight albums from 1980 to 2003, released dozens of singles, and garnered a massive cult following over their lengthy career.

Of course, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy went by very different names when they first met in 1972 when both were art students at Sacramento State. Back then, they were Erick Purkhiser and Kristy Wallace, and they met when Purkhiser and a friend stopped to give Wallace a ride as she was hitchhiking back to her apartment from the Sacramento State campus. The pair bonded over shared interests in kitschy pop culture, flea markets, music and art, even taking classes together such as “Art and Shamanism.” They began playing music and soon founded The Cramps.

Purkhiser graduated in 1973, and two years later, the pair moved to Ohio and then New York. There, they married and became a part of the city’s thriving punk movement. Outrageous, spirited, sometimes offensive, and wholly unique to the American music scene, The Cramps became regulars at legendary New York rock clubs CBGB and Max’s Kansas City before releasing their first EP, Gravest Hits, in 1979. Their first long-player in 1980, Songs the Lord Taught Us, became a huge hit with audiences riding the first wave of punk music. The Cramps blended 1950s-era rockabilly with hard-and-fast, edgy garage rock to form a style all their own, a genre known as psychobilly.

Though the band never reached a level of mega-stardom like fellow American punk pioneers The Ramones, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, or Patti Smith, The Cramps are widely credited as rock trailblazers who influenced countless musicians and bands, from Tiger Army to The White Stripes.

Lux Interior passed away in 2009 after one of the longest and most impactful musical careers of the past century. He is survived by Poison Ivy and a legacy — in all its leopard-clad glory — that profoundly changed music culture in ways still felt today.