Terra Lopez — leading lady of the band Rituals of Mine, the label Bitchwave, and the art installation called THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE — is a powerhouse who is changing not only the music industry but any community she touches. Her passion for elevating women and fostering growth in the community is making a huge impact across the nation. In today's culture, it is so necessary for people with platforms to use them in way that sheds light on important issues. We sat down with Lopez to talk about the important work she is doing.
So you are an extremely busy woman — tell me a little bit about your projects.
I like to keep busy, stay busy. I've always been like that, even as a kid. I want to create as much as I can while I'm here on earth, I guess. Life is way too short. I think about legacy and death a lot, so it's important to me to do as much as I can while I'm alive. I sing in an electronic project called Rituals of Mine. I've been singing for over a decade. I created my first art exhibit last year, called THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE. It's an art installation where men can experience what it feels like to be a woman in today's society by being on the receiving end of harassment/gender-based violence. It's been a super powerful project so far, and I'm in awe of the impact and growth in only a year. Last year, I also started a label called Bitchwave with my friend Lauren Ross — it's a label/movement geared towards uplifting women, women of color, and queer-identified artists. I also work as a music publicist for Terrorbird Media, which is seriously the best company I've ever worked for — 10 of the 14 staff members are women and it's a beautiful, supportive group of people.
So besides being a kick-ass activist and businesswoman, you are also an incredible musician. How would you say RItuals of Mine has evolved with you over the years?
The project has evolved SO much over the last decade. I first created Sister Crayon [Rituals of Mine's original name] in 2008 as a solo thing — basically as an alter-ego of sorts — so that I could express myself the way that I really wanted to. I'm such a shy person offstage, so I needed that alter-ego to really come out of that. Over the years, the project has evolved and seen many different lineups and band members and our sound has elevated due to that. I want to constantly be evolving and challenge and push myself so that I am never making the same art. I do that by creating with other people, by testing out my own limits as a performer, and by being open to change. The lineup and next chapter of Rituals of Mine is changing for 2018, and I'm really excited for it and inspired to show fans the next phase of what we are doing. We will be debuting a lot of brand new material, merch, and so much more. It's important to me to never stay stagnant in anything I do.
Why was starting Bitchwave so important to you? What motivated it?
Lauren and I wanted to create an environment that was supportive to artists. The music industry can be really ruthless, and I have had my fair share of experiences of labels fucking over artists — I have been there, believe me. We want to help artists that we believe in and help them reach their goals in an organic, positive way. We just want to lift up voices that we believe in and allow artists that freedom to express themselves the way they want. We also are passionate people who are activists and so of course, Bitchwave is a movement that helps promote queer artists, equality, and women of color. It's embedded in everything we do.
You also created THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE, an auditory art exhibit intended to help shift society’s treatment of women by providing attendees the opportunity to experience being on the receiving end of catcalling. What have been the responses you've been getting from men or women? Do you think this project is accomplishing what you set out for it to do?
TIWIFL has far exceeded any expectations I ever had for this project. It continues to have such an incredible impact on people — it's amazing. This project is so much bigger than me — it really has nothing to do with me. It has a life of its own because it's helping educate men and it's resonating. I see the change and the impact firsthand when men come out of the exhibit in tears and want to talk about it, when men come up to me and ask what can they do. My only intent with TIWIFL was to start a conversation, and it's doing that and much more. It's finally showing men a glimpse of what we as women go through on a daily basis, and it's creating compassion, and it's stirring something inside men and women. It's time that society treats women better, and sadly the only way I have found to be effective is to literally place men in women's shoes and put them face-to-face with the reality of what women experience. Men are altered by this exhibit, whereas women walk through and shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, this represents my daily life." Some women thank me for finally allowing their voices to be heard. Some women burst into tears because it's triggering and it represents their own experiences with harassment — that kills me, but also motivates me to keep doing this work. I won't stop until I see this culture shift.
Find out more about all of Lopez's Projects here:
Firs photo by Jeffrey Latour
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Janeth Ann Gonda is currently the events and promotions manager at BUST Magazine, a singer, dancer, writer, and event planner living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently the lead singer in the Gypsy Witch Rock Band Espejismo. After working in the Brooklyn music industry for several years she created her own event space Barranquilla Studios. Janeth has hosted hundreds of bands and fans alike and is an active member in the NYC music community.