You know Vero Sanchez as the bass player of Hunter Valentine and the Coolest Cucumber on season three of The Real L Word, but did you also know that she began her music career as an 11 year-old mulleted hip-hop artist? Maybe you would've, if Vero’s screen time on TRLW hadn't been limited to interviewing about everyone’s story but her own.
Since the show's end, for Vero it’s been onward and upward; Hunter Valentine released a new album, Collide & Conquer, toured it in multiple countries, and Vero has some solo projects in the works, like a new album and a clothing line, which will probably be pretty fucking hot.
We caught up with Vero soon after she touched back down in New York, having just wrapped up the Collide & Conquer tour in Japan.
What have you been up to?
I've just completed the "Collide & Conquer" tour with Hunter Valentine. Holy Mother of patience! I've never done anything like this before. It's been a drama series within itself. We drove around the US and Canada for the past three months and played about 65 shows including one in Japan! I'd like to consider this a lifetime experience. It was epic and absolutely intense at the same time. Our fans have multiplied enormously and meeting each and everyone of them took a primal role on this tour. I think my face has frozen into a huge smile from all the photographs.
On the downside, we had some complications with our van, gear and Laura's ankle was injured badly. She taught herself instantly how to play with her left foot and rocked out the majority of the tour this way. It was a challenge not being home with my loved ones when Sandy hit. However, we've made it back in one piece and everyone here seems to be stronger than ever. I'm excited to have my own bed and and space for the time being.
It must be tough spending that long on the road, in terms of getting personal space and time.
There were five of us sharing a van, hotel room, bathroom and stage. I'd like to say it's "Rock & Roll" but at times I've thought to myself, fuck Rock & Roll, now I'm in survival mode! Here are some of my basic thoughts regarding tour: "Hmm..when we stop for gas, do I use this time to go to the restroom or smoke a cigarette. This is my side of the mirror, step the hell back before I smear this on your face. I wish I could turn this 'Baconater' into a chimichurri skirt steak with mashed potatoes. I need to fart right now. Should I warn them or see if they notice." Luckily, they never did.
Let’s talk about The Real L Word for a sec. Did you watch all the episodes?
I don't have cable but I did manage to watch the whole season. After the second episode I was hooked and became just like every other viewer out there; plastered to the screen crying or laughing. But also being weirded out because I just lived this not long ago and now I was reliving it with the rest of the world.
How did you feel about your own portrayal?
I don't know why but when there's a camera rolling, it sometimes helps instigate drama. We are all responsible for every action and word that comes out of our mouth so I kept that in mind. Even when I felt I had nothing interesting to offer I told myself, "It's okay, just be yourself." Although I had very little face time, it turned out there was a whole world out there who wanted more of my story. That was well worth the experience of being on a reality TV show. Your recaps labeled me the 'Coolest Cucumber' (don't think I wasn't paying attention) and because of my portrayal in TRLW, I've met so many people that come to me for advice. Good lord, I hope I don't disappoint.
Oh so you read the Autostraddle recaps, then?
You guys are too much. Good Lord, I just fucking loved them; they’re hilarious. In my opinion, reading the recaps is much more entertaining than watching the TV show.
On TRLW you were kinda this cool cat that popped up every now and then to diffuse band problems, and I was left wanting to know more about you and your life. Were there any parts of your story cut from the show that you wish TRLW would have kept?
There were actually a quite few touching moments throughout filming. I had my mom surprise me from Argentina. She stormed into our rehearsal room, shocking the crap out of me. That was definitely a tear jerker moment considering I hardly ever get to see her. Along with my mother comes another person I rarely get to see, my girlfriend Katie Murphy.
I would have liked to have seen that. How did you meet Katie?
I met her on my first tour with HV last year, The Lady Killer Tour. Her band, Sick of Sarah was one of our touring bandmates and there I was, checking out their hot lead guitar player every night. Had I known she was also checking out HV's awkward bass player, I would've not made an ass of myself with the obvious stage stalking. Little did I know that this tour crush would end up in one of the strongest relationships I've ever had. She lives in Minneapolis and I live in New York. She tours, so do I. She's 29 and I'm… yeah you know. But here's the thing, we've set three phones on fire so far and when we do see each other (once every 3 months) it's all at the same time familiar and brand new.
TRLW spent a decent amount of time filming when Katie came out for her birthday. We always get nervous seeing each other every first time and having cameras around, didn't help remove any butterflies. We may not have kept the camera rolling after hours but that part of our relationship we wanted to keep between us. However, all of our hot steamy make-out moments that were cut I'm sure exist somewhere in the archives.
You guys sent us some backstage footage from the Lady Killer tour, it looked like a blast. I recall there being some wrestling...
Yeah the Lady Killer tour was pretty wild. Wrestling after that show seemed to put things into perspective with who's on top. I was the new girl on tour and although I have a prior undefeated food wrestling belt, I was afraid of tearing another ligament. I believe Laura got a bloody lip that night from Vanity Theft.
You could've really messed up your rock stance.
I NEED my rock stance.
Someone else I enjoyed watching on TRLW was Somer. Do you miss playing with her?
I had a connection with Somer and wished things could've been different, but her heart was elsewhere. Somer was torn between HV and her own projects, something I definitely can relate to. I also put my own band aside to play bass with HV but I'm slowly working on balancing both bands because they are very meaningful to me.
Tell me about your own band, and music.
I'm a singer-songwriter and play guitar/ukulele with a four-piece band. It all began with hip-hop. I was 11 years old when I wrote my first rap; mullet, flat chested and rocking pink chucks. As years went by I began performing and the music gradually evolved into what I call gypsy folk-rock. Storytelling and writing dark ballads with pretty melodies is mostly my thing. I've always been inspired by singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Chrissie Hynde and Ray LaMontagne, just to name a few.
I would really love to hear one of the songs where you rap.
Well, I just finished a song called "Girls Tale" and was actually looking for some feedback. Feel free to give me a buzz and I'll give you a private performance. However, I will be posting it soon on www.reverbnation.com/veromusic.
Have you released any recordings?
In 2007 I released an album named Christopher, under my prior name Mahogany. I soon after changed to "Vero". Now I'm about to hit the recording studio for my next album which should be released by next fall. Music is pretty much my everything. I will always continue to explore different avenues and that's what helps me continue to grow as a musician. Bass is by no means my primary instrument, so when I joined HV last fall as their bass player, I guess I sort of surprised myself.
How did that happen?
One day Kiyomi came up to me while I was bartending and asked me to play bass, which totally caught me off guard. I said, “Kiyomi, I don’t play bass” but she insisted that she had a feeling I was the right person for it. She asked me to check out their music as they were going on tour the following month and that totally overwhelmed me. But I was challenged, so I went home fixed up my old shitty bass and practice my ass off. Kiyomi believed in me and kept pushing me hard. She told me that the person I needed to win over was Laura. When the audition day came I had the songs down and I showed Laura my boobs. The rest is history.
And you played on the new album, Collide and Conquer?
Yes, I am thrilled to have collaborated with the girls. We all brought songs to the table and co-wrote other songs together. It was different for me to write songs for somebody else's voice. When I showed them "Lonely Crusade", Kiyomi took to it and perfected it with her own style. I was impressed with how hard they worked and how determined they were to make every song the best version of itself. You can still hear the original Hunter Valentine grit but I feel this album has a thicker more mature sound.
What’s your favorite thing about living in New York?
I'm a native New Yorker and live in the East Village. My favorite thing about living here is the community of friends I have. Everyone is a struggling starving "something" but we all have a way of inspiring and helping one another without any hint of competition. It's a beautiful thing. Well, either that or the hot dogs.
What do you get up to when you're not doing music and bartending?
Besides talking to my girlfriend and drinking plenty of coffee, I'm working on launching my online clothing & accessory store, Gaucho NYC by summer of 2013. My dad's a tailor so I've always had an anticipated eye for style. I've been working on this idea for about three years and a lot of thought has gone into making sure that each piece is one of a kind and ready for stage. I call it the Rock & Roll, Urban Cowgirl look.
I’ve just realized that we’re about to run out of time. Any final thoughts?
A good friend of mine once told me that if you take an orange and roll it into the middle of a street, no one will notice it. But if you take an orange, roll it into the middle of the street and film it, everyone would say, “Hey that’s the orange that I saw on TV." And that’s what I feel kind of happened. It’s kind of strange how someone can struggle to be a "successful" artist their whole life. They struggle to get any kind of recognition and respect but it doesn't really matter how old you are, how many people know your full name or how many Facebook likes you get. What matters most is not giving up or comparing yourself to others. Be honest with your art. At the end of the day that's true success.