During a rare break between business trips, Fabi Reyna is busy brainstorming plans for a two-day music festival celebrating five years of She Shreds, the world’s only magazine dedicated to women guitarists and bassists. Unlike other major magazines focused on guitars, She Shreds doesn’t choose to simply accessorize the instrument with women’s bodies.
Instead, the quarterly magazine highlights current pioneers of the industry and shares their complex stories. And in 2016, She Shreds confirmed what they had long suspected: Half of all new guitar purchases are made by women. The research came from Fender and reflects the push that Reyna and her team have tirelessly advocated for since 2012.
Interviews with notable women and non-binary musicians — often independent and with cult followings — fill the graphically striking magazine’s pages. Some of these shredders are Portland-based, like Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Beyoncé’s Bibi McGill, but She Shreds reaches well beyond the Pacific Northwest to include internationally renowned artists, such as Argentine experimental musician Juana Molina.
Tabs, gear reviews and music theory tips further inform readers on how to best hone their craft. Yet even as the magazine celebrates half a decade in business and continues to collaborate with veteran businesses in the industry, She Shreds still embodies the DIY and community-supported spirit of Portland that originally helped it launch.
THE FOUNDING OF SHE SHREDS
When Reyna started the magazine, she was 20 years old and equipped with plenty of passion, but not much else. “I started from nothing — knowledge-wise or monetarily — but the community in Portland,” she explains. “Being able to gain the knowledge at my own pace was really important, and I don’t think that I would have been able to do that anywhere else but here. We [received] our first initial funding from throwing events in Portland, and I feel like in any other city, people wouldn’t be willing to play for free or donate money for your ideas. I think that’s something that’s special about Portland — it elevates you and helps you grow.”
When the Mexican-born Reyna relocated to Portland from Austin, new friends in the music scene encouraged her to start the magazine she’d always wanted. She had been regularly visiting Portland since she was 13 to attend the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, and after deferring college to tour with her garage punk band, she met other female guitarists who, like her, were excellent shredders that yearned for visibility.
With the help of her new community, Reyna organized a showcase of local women musicians to raise money for the first issue of She Shreds. The event, known as Shred Fest, was a success; one year later, in 2012, the revolutionary magazine was born.
SHE SHREDS IN PORTLAND AND BEYOND
After five years of growth, Reyna is looking forward to hosting another Shred Fest in spring 2018, but with a twist: “On the first day, we’ll do collaborations with rappers, R&B singers and hip-hop artists, and pair them up with guitarists to create a live band,” she explains. “And the second day will be your typical She Shreds lineup.”
Since She Shreds seeks to be inclusive and expansive, encouraging a blending of genres and techniques further upholds their mission. On a local level, Reyna has seen a similar shift since she moved to Portland in 2009. “The direction that the music scene is heading has changed so much [while] I’ve lived here,” she says.
“I feel like Portland is waking up in the representation and visibility that it’s lacked in the past. I’m in a cumbia-style band, and I notice a lot of other [people of color]-driven bands are being nurtured really awesomely by the community. That’s something that I think people who go to shows are advocating for, and maybe it’s also because a lot of different types of people are moving here, but I’m really excited about seeing those different communities.”
While Reyna is excited about the burgeoning diversity in Portland, she has her sights set on a bigger scene: “I want She Shreds to grow within Portland, but ultimately, I think that our mission is to grow internationally — that’s where we’re heading right now,” says Reyna. “Within the next five years, we want to have a lot of impact in a lot of different countries and states and cities, but we definitely take that which we receive here in Portland and continue to spread that vibe and message of building community throughout the music scenes all over the world.”
PORTLAND’S MUSIC SCENE
For musically inclined visitors looking to become immersed in the local scene, Reyna suggests scoping out all that North Portland has to offer. DISJECTA, a contemporary art center that shares office space with the magazine, is in the Kenton neighborhood, while the Mississippi district is home to beloved live music venue Mississippi Studios, celebrated vinyl house Mississippi Records and rare and vintage music specialty shop Black Book Guitars.
Visitors can find She Shreds at a variety of local outlets in Portland, including Tender Loving Empire and Powell’s Books. You can also visit the She Shreds website to locate the closest retailer near you and to stay up-to-date with news and resources.