By 18, Fabi Reyna had mastered classical guitar and toured with punk bands. At 21, pissed off at an industry that glorified rock douchebags and amp-straddling bikini babes, she launched She Shreds—the world’s only print magazine devoted to female guitarists and bassists. By 23, she was convincing corporate insiders of women’s vital role in the guitar world.
But that’s, you know, the past.
“I just want to grow and grow and grow,” says Reyna, now 26 and celebrating She Shreds’s fifth anniversary this year. “The magazine is just the way to get people in. My interest is to redefine an entire industry.”
Reyna doesn’t have the capacity to think small—about anything, really. A conversation with her bounces from barrier-breaking guitar gear swaps to plans for a nation-spanning multimedia survey of the cultural underground. And, refreshingly, she actually does all of this.
Born in Cancún, Mexico, and raised in a Texas border town, the guitarist adopted Portland at 18. She never wanted to be a writer, had no clue when it came to magazines. But in 2012, she found the oppressively white, dude-centric aura of the music industry deafening to her and her community—women, musicians of color, and queer creatives who rarely saw themselves in music media. Her answer? A magazine, created by and for her own.
The result, 14 issues in, is a lively, perspective-smashing read that skips from bios of women of color who shredded through history to Q&As with luminaries like Corin Tucker to gear reviews, song tabs, and earnest travel guides.
The magazine has also moved the dial in the guitar industry itself, which is finally processing that 50 percent of new players are women. Brands like Fender consult Reyna. In 2016, Guitar World discontinued its tacky “Bikini” Gear Guide issue after call-outs from She Shreds.
The magazine’s success had drawbacks: “I didn’t play the guitar for about four years,” Reyna admits. That shifted in 2016, when she teamed with two fellow Mexican Portlanders for blissed-out cumbia-inspired trio Sávila and launched DJ collab Reyna Tropical. A flurry of accolades followed, including a Willamette Week Best New Band nod for Sávila in March.
It’s all part of Reyna’s overriding vision.
“Women speaking out and making music goes hand in hand,” she says. “A guitar can act as a tool to reach so many people. It’s a tool for expression, period.”
Sávila opens for La Luz May 19 at the Aladdin Theater.