DFW Music News

Woman Crush Wednesday: Vera ‘Velma’ Hernandez

Velma isn't just behind the lens.
Velma isn't just behind the lens. Mike Brooks
Our crush this week is Vera "Velma" Hernandez, a guitar-playing punk scene fixture whose music photography is so rich in grit and punch that you can live vicariously through the sweat and blood that spill from her concert shots. Also known as "Vicious Velma," Hernandez may be tougher than the rest of us, but she says she's like Bart Simpson at heart. Here's why we love her.

Who’s your dream subject?
Portugal. The Man. It's my dream to one day be their tour photographer.

What’s your favorite photo in music history?

That changes often ... For the past few months I've been fixated on the photo of Einstürzende Neubauten that's featured in the cover of their Live at Rockpalast DVD. The composition, the harsh lighting, the shopping cart ... I love everything about it.

What’s one rule you particularly don’t subscribe to?

Speed limits. They're too slow.

Tell me your favorite personal tradition.

Going to FYWROK every Fourth of July weekend. It's like a family reunion for punks from all over; the lineup is always ace, the after-parties are wild and the sense of unity in our scene is rad.

What performer do you wish you could’ve seen in concert?

The Birthday Party-era Nick Cave.
click to enlarge They call her Vicious Velma. But in a good way. - KEVIN SPAGHETTI
They call her Vicious Velma. But in a good way.
Kevin Spaghetti
Who would you like to narrate your life?
The guy who announces monster truck rally commercials. It would get obnoxious after about 1 minute, then hilarious again after 3.

Tell me one one album you’d feel confident recommending to absolutely anyone.

Brandenburg, The Lines. Listen to "Cranes."

Describe your personality in one album and one fictional character.

Right now probably Wyldlife's Out on Your Block. Fictional character, probably Bart Simpson, ’cause people have told me that the junk I say is very cartoonish, and that sometimes I sound like him.

Who’s your woman crush in the arts?

Probably Leah (Lane) from Rosegarden Funeral Party and Sabrina from A Giant Dog. I have such mad respect for both of them. Love their vocal styling, and their music. Also, they're really kind and amazing people, and I'm stoked that I'm friends with them.

What's your oddest habit?

I tend to do a lot of things in threes. And I get scared and flinch a lot.

What was happening the last time you felt like your life was incredible?

I was on tour with my best friends watching them do what they love. Night after night, city after city.

What non-material things do you collect?

I guess photos ... I love going through old shows and reliving those rad nights

Do you have any unpopular opinions?

I HATE sneezing. It's the worst thing ever, gross. Oh, and hiccups. It's such a childish thing. Hate it. (But like, only for myself, it's stressful. Sneeze your heart out)

What’s the least punk thing about you?

I listen to A LOT of music that isn't punk. Portugal. The Man is one of my absolute favorite bands.

Which movie (or series) would you like to be trapped in?

Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I wanna be a part of the gang and get into wacky situations.

What would someone assume about your personal life if they went through your internet search history?

I don't know the lyrics to a lot of songs I love. '80s music is nearly religious to me. I should be better at skating for the amount of skate videos I watch online.

What are some things you do that make you feel like a good citizen?

I just try to be nice to everyone until they give me a reason not to be. Everybody should be kind, it's not hard to do, you'll feel better, and it makes others feel rad.

What’s the greatest thing you’ve created?
This one time I created a rad concrete structure with Dylan and Wil (Stamas and Farrier, from Rosegarden Funeral Party) in their backyard. Don't know how it stood for as long as it did, but it passed both the snap, yell and clap tests. Still pretty proud of it.

Name the smallest thing that makes you happy.

This really awesome necklace that Leah gave me that says "Vicious Velma" on it.

What's the wildest thing you’ve seen at a party?

I saw some chick try to climb a 9-foot iced-over fence in Philly, she fell — of course — into a mound of snow and just sunk in like a cartoon. She was OK.

What’s something you’ve been told about yourself that made you laugh?

Oh boy ... so I sleep laugh/talk a lot. And Leah, Dylan and Wil never fail to let me know the poetic things I say in my sleep. Example: "Gravel is just tiny rocks," "Sand shouldn't be wet, it's creepy," "We can be friends, just don't steal my shirt, man."

What’s one song you play when you feel like being sad?

White Lies' "To Lose My Life"

What question do you love to be asked?

I kinda don't really like being asked questions. They make me nervous, and the answers change a lot.
click to enlarge Hernandez posing in between shots. - KEVIN SPAGHETTI
Hernandez posing in between shots.
Kevin Spaghetti
click to enlarge The kind of scene that takes place in Hernandez's world. - VERA "VELMA" HERNANDEZ
The kind of scene that takes place in Hernandez's world.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio