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She Shreds…it’s a killer name for a magazine that kicked off some real change in representation in the music industry. Mexican-born and Portland-based Fabi Reyna is a guitarist and the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief—the result of being fed up with women’s roles in music magazines (you know the types: wearing clothes as thin as the guitar strings they’re not playing). She Shreds was started in 2012 as the world’s only print publication dedicated to women guitarists and bassists, a platform where “people can listen, see and experience what it means to be a woman who shreds.
Of course a player herself, Fabi has created a space for others to see themselves within the industry they’ve long been contributing to. The magazine’s mission is growing, its reach spanning—not so much turning music on its head as holding a mirror up to it. Guitars, Fabi says, come with diversity and disparate cultures. Her advocacy has opened that conversation up and given voice to the women who’ve been there, as well as those who’ve wanted to be but didn’t know how.
Why did you decide to start with a magazine?
When I was learning to play guitar and desperately seeking some kind of guidance, support, or community, I would go to my local grocery store and open an issue of whatever guitar magazine was available. At that time the only women in these magazines were tall, thin, usually white women in bikinis and without any suggestion that they were guitar players. It was discouraging to not see or find myself anywhere within what was considered "guitar culture." I felt like I was being told this just wasn't for me. That type of media encouraged other people, mostly boys and men, to treat me as such too, and I actually remember being close to giving it up. So when I came to Portland to attend the Rock 'n' Roll Camp For Girls, it changed my life to feel supported and accepted by a community, but also to learn about the historical and contemporary impact women had in music.
On the one hand there was this mainstream mentality that men and boys dominated the ability and desire to play musical instruments, which meant the exclusion of girls and women. And on the other hand I was witnessing and learning about the exact opposite. The biggest issue was no form of mainstream media at the time wanted to acknowledge that. I felt this deep need to change it and show the world we as women, LGBTQIA, and women of color existed, were powerful, and should be a valued market in the guitar industry. I felt the only way I could make that point was by being present alongside all of the mainstream "men only" guitar magazines on newsstands. So that's what I did.
What's it been like to grow She Shreds from a magazine into what it is today?
It's an entire rollercoaster of emotions. This is my precious baby, and while I feel like I need to be protective and keep it close, I also need to give it space and let others have an impression on it. I make mistakes alongside it, and I succeed with it, but I have to remember this is something that has become a tool and a space for people all over the world, and at the same time — because of that global impact — I need to ensure it stays sustainable too (that's definitely the hardest part by the way).
It started as my passion project dedicated to helping my immediate community see their maximum potential. It’s since developed a national voice with the ability to shift decades-old practices and prove that women are more than 50% of guitarists. Now we're focused on ensuring our people, our community — as close and as far as that may be — is here to stay and has the tools and the support to grow and evolve. For me, it's always been about making sure cycles that have historically held us back are really and truly broken — permanently without a chance of going back.
How does collaboration impact the culture of change?
The idea of the one is a myth. Every great mind and every historic event has occurred because of the help and support of some kind of people(s) and/or community. We can do things on our own, but to create real and tangible and permanent change, you need others with a vision aligned with yours and who are able to pick up where you can no longer move forward. Everything I do through She Shreds or otherwise is thanks to collaboration. I've been able to see and open doors I never thought possible because of working with others. If as people we can live in a culture rooted in the belief of collaboration over competition, then we can create change beyond what we even know is possible.
Who do you hope to collaborate with in the future?
Joop Joop and Hey Sis World.
What do you want attendees to take away from the Art of the Collab Design Week Portland event?
To support one another and continue passing on opportunities to their communities, collaborating with the mentality that if your community thrives then you will, too.