Crystal Hernandez knows as well as anyone that personal struggles can make it impossible to pursue one’s passion.
The punk-rock frontwoman of Desert Crystal (formerly Nein Lives and Fight Like a Girl) wrote a lot of music and played a lot of backyard shows with her band until stopping rather suddenly in 2017. Music recorded years ago went unreleased—until Hernandez announced the band’s new name and a new single, “Wasted Day.” The accompanying music video premiered on YouTube on Friday, Sept. 2.
During a recent interview, Hernandez explained the band’s various names.
“Desert Crystal is formerly known as Nein Lives, which is formerly known as Fight Like a Girl,” Hernandez said. “I liked the name Nein Lives, but my former drummer came up with that band name. I hit him up and said, ‘Hey, I’m planning to finally release the music,’ and I asked if I could keep that name, but I never heard from him. Also, there are other bands out there with that same name, so I just decided to change the name again.
“We started in 2015. I was playing a solo gig, and that’s when I met with my first drummer, and then I contacted a friend who also played in a punk band back in the day. From there, we played shows here and there as Fight Like a Girl. Over the years, there have been changes in the lineup. All the songs are composed by me, but none of the shows have been done without the help of my friends.”
Hernandez explained what led to her hiatus in 2017.
“We recorded an album, and we were looking for artwork and looking into how to release music,” she said. “But at the same time, life happens. I was going through a dark time, and I had no motivation to go forward with my music. I felt like, at the time, I didn’t deserve to be in a band. My mental health had to come first, and after a year or two, I knew I had to get at it again. I got tired of having all these ideas for my songs and not doing anything about it, so here I am.”
Hernandez made a music-video teaser—and was surprised by the response.
“I wasn’t even expecting anyone to share my music-video teaser,” she said. “It may not be much to other bands or artists, but I was surprised that friends and family were actually sharing this shit.”
The “Wasted Day” music video feels like a big party. Hernandez and her friends play through the song while other people dance in-frame. The video also includes shots of Hernandez walking through the streets of Coachella with her guitar.
“Making the music video was fun; it felt like a fun school project,” said Hernandez. “I hit up Zac Kupcha from Circulation Media, and we talked about the ideas for the video. He was super-easy to work with, and it was just awesome. … The song is really old, so I don’t remember what it’s about. I wrote it at a time when I was hungover, and I was just thinking about things the night before. I was young and dumb and hungover.”
Hernandez is also a part of punk-band Labia Minora, and has spent time in other projects. I asked how her songwriting differs between endeavors.
“I’m not sure if my experience in other bands helped with my songwriting skills,” Hernandez said. “Some people are natural poets, and they can shit out any song, and it would sound really great. I don’t consider myself one of those people. I could only recall once coming up with a new song where both the music and lyrics came out naturally from the top of my head.”
Hernandez is working on re-establishing her live band lineup, but she wants to retain an emphasis on releasing music.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on releasing the album, (with) a few more singles along with music videos,” said Hernandez. “I have these ideas that I just want to make into a reality, and I just want to have fun with it. If anybody wants to play a show, I will try my best to make it happen. Right now, our drummer is Dave Febra, who is in Elektric Lucie; he has been helping us out. I want to keep him on, because he’s a badass drummer, but then again, I don’t want him to overdo it. I want him to enjoy life, too.”
Hernandez is happy about her new outlook on music, and is excited to pick up where she left off.
“I have all these songs, and I’ve always played guitar and sang, and I thought maybe I should do something about it,” she said. “I thought maybe somebody out there would enjoy my music.”