Behind the Music

fabi reyna

Posted: 16 February 2021

Growing up in Austin, TX, Fabi often found that people like herself weren't being represented in music publications. After touring with an all femme punk band at the age of 17 Fabi decided it was time for a change. We sit down with her and get the full story of She Shreds and what's to come in the future.

Read time -  10 mins

How would you describe your job?

I always try to stray away from looking at what I do as a job, because I think that takes away from the love and the very intimate relationship I have with what I do. I think that sometimes a job can seem very distant and with that comes certain connotations, so I always try to distance myself from seeing it as a job to avoid that really. A lot of what I do is unique in the fact that I get to have ideas and then make them happen and watch them come to life in a way that I think can be quite rare for other jobs.

What I essentially do is look at the industry and that can be the guitar industry, the music industry or even in my direct community, and then I take a step back and think 'what do we need and how can we enhance and advance this industry, the guitar as an instrument and the artist playing it?'.

I feel not only lucky but grateful to be able to utilise the tools that I have available as a queer, woman, Mexican guitarist, and all of those elements feed into my work at She Shreds as the Owner and the Editor in Chief.

What’s been the biggest challenge being the owner of She Shreds?

The challenges are always changing, what’s a challenge today might not be a challenge tomorrow. I started this magazine when I was 18, and the biggest challenge then was the actual learning! I hadn’t gone to college and learnt all the logistical things that come with running a magazine and a business. That has been both a struggle and an advantage because I was able to create a path in a way that suited me, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to do things my own way rather than having to follow a path that already existed and then consequently do things that have already been done.

The struggles and the obstacles have also contributed to our success really. Of course, along the way I have faced some other difficulties, some considerably larger than others. The biggest and probably most consistent of which has been trying to communicate the She Shreds vision to others. How we want to be seen as women, non-binary, musicians, creatives and trying to be understood by the mainstream and the industry at large, as well as to be encouraged and supported for who we are. I think that all of these have had their own individual difficulties but have made us what we are today.

"I take a step back and think 'what do we need and how can we enhance and advance this industry?'"

How do you come up with articles to write about?

I would say that all of us at She Shreds are deeply involved in the music community as guitarists. We are constantly doing research on people in history that you might not know about and you find there's so much in this topic that teaches us about music and the way that it has been brought into modern day. Not only does this tell us about history it also speaks to us about the systems in the community, past and present, that might not necessarily benefit us and then it becomes about how to bring that up as a global conversation. Luckily for She Shreds we talk about music and that’s something everyone can relate to, so we start with a base of music and at the end of the article you're like 'wait a minute…'

So, for us it's finding who has the story where you're using the tool of music, but it's really the life lesson behind the story and behind the music.

What is your goal for She Shreds?

Well, honestly, the dream changes every day.  That’s one thing that I love about my role really, I’m able to take hold of the dream and to steer it into all sorts of directions, for example the other day I was on a call with someone who just randomly reached out to us and is from Mexico and we got talking about ideas for She Shreds, and it got me thinking like well let's start a Mexico division!

I don't want She Shreds to just be one thing ever. I want it to constantly be changing. I don't ever want to coast, and I think that for anyone who works with me that can either be really great or horrible because I'm constantly like 'we need to change'. Ultimately, I always want to make sure that She Shreds is changing and evolving with the times, with the people, with the musicians. As long as I'm listening to the industry and we are there then I feel as though I’m doing my part.

"I always want to make sure that She Shreds is changing and evolving with the times, with the people, with the musicians."

You say that you want She Shreds to constantly be changing, do you find that being reactive is an important skill you need to have in your role?

That’s a good question because it's true… it is important to be reactive but it's also not as important as you would think to react at that moment.

I'm always learning, more so during this quarantine period, that it's also so important to just let things sit with you and to make sure that you're not just reacting because you think you need to react, or because you're going to lose someone's attention. The more intention and thought behind something, even if it takes weeks of being silent and brainstorming, the more chance your work will have of staying with someone, and that to me is what matters.

So, whilst it is important for me to be reactive to the world it’s far more important to make sure that I react with intention and with authenticity and to make sure that really what you're saying is true and real to yourself not just to what you think you should be saying and doing.

What made you start She Shreds?

I started playing guitar when I was nine and I actually grew up in the time where people told me ‘no, you shouldn't play, you’re a girl, that's not for you’, especially in the culture of being Mexican American. For me music was my everything and to be told I couldn't do this thing that I love and that was my only outlet was pretty painful.

This experience impacted me massively when I turned 17 and consequently decided to move to Portland immediately instead of going to college. I went on tour with this all femme punk band, and it was on that tour that I started meeting this underground scene of women, who are supporting each other and creating spaces that were safe and inspiring, and I just started saying the words She Shreds over and over again.

Then when I got back home I really made the connection that the mainstream depiction of what musicians and guitarists were wasn't adding up to what I was seeing. Then, for whatever reason, I thought it would be a great idea to make this ‘thing’. I had no idea really of what it was going to turn out to be. When I started, my purpose for She Shreds was to connect and introduce a new audience, who may have previously been told guitar wasn’t for them, to the idea of being musicians and to the tool of guitar. Obviously because there was this gap in the market it just kind of grew and grew with the help of social media.

"As long as I'm listening to the industry and we are there then I feel as though I’m doing my part."

Do you think it helped She Shreds by not starting it with the aim to become a massive business and rather just to be a representation?

I mean I think that's the only way that something like this could really thrive you know? It's really in the details, how you discuss topics, how you invite people, being able to talk to and understand people who are the complete opposite and don't believe in what you do. Learning all of these skills is something that I wouldn’t have thought about really if I had planned this from a massive business perspective.

I don't think that it could have been any other way, if you look at movements like the riot girl scene and punk music, all those things are timeless because they were created out of a need and that’s what this is. Being a queer, woman of colour queer musician has been an important part of She Shreds because it means that a door of representation and opportunity has been opened for other women like me that wasn’t before.

What’s one thing you love most about your job?

I really cherish the moments where I can just be like everyone else. I really protect and value the fact that I have these decisions to make and I’m leading this, but I also just love being a friend and a guitarist, a musician and ultimately being like everyone using the platform.

I try to look at the platform as if it was something that I would want and I would need, and so, thinking about it that way, my favourite thing is just being apart of the community of people’s lives and having conversations and having the chance to meet people from across the world.

How do you discover new artists?

I'm getting closer to being able to put into words what it is about an artist that stands out to me. It's not necessarily ‘oh you've been playing for this long’ and it's also not necessarily ‘oh you write really good music’. It's kind of like there's a certain group of people, or maybe it's a generation or something, that are literally rewriting, redefining, and creating another all-encompassing community of players.

This new community can write and create and intuitively connect to the instrument and most importantly is the connection they have to their intuition.

For me it is really like the connection between skill, intuition and emotion.