This week we’re handing over the keys for “State of Wonder” to the amazing Fabi Reyna. The founder and publisher of She Shreds magazine — and guitarist for Sávila, Willamette Week’s Best New Band for 2018 — she’s made an indelible imprint on guitar culture by making space for women guitarists and bass players. Reyna sat down with us to talk about why she started the magazine and also steers us toward some incredible stories about people on the front line of this culture change.
Before She Shreds, the guitar world was a little different for female musicians. Music can be lonely if you can’t connect with like-minded players — or even find a teacher to meet your needs. But Fabi Reyna set change into motion. Two years after “She Shreds” got off the ground, a survey commissioned by Fender Guitars revealed that 50% of people buying guitars were women. (Read the follow-up study here.) “One type of guitar is dying,” Reyna told us. “And I’m going to create the funeral for it.”
‘I Can’t Have Us Erased Again’ — 23:06
There have been so many moments in which women of color have pushed our creative scene forward, it’s impossible to talk about one time in which everything changed. But we wanted to explore some ideas that Fabi Reyna brought us about how women of color find community within Portland’s creative scene, so we spoke with a constellation of artists breaking ground across several disciplines.
- Osa Atoe spends her days running a successful ceramics practice on Etsy, but Portland music fans remember her as part of the groundbreaking punk trio New Bloods. The band’s music was a magnet for younger artists like Reyna who went on to launch their own bands.
- Latinx DJ collective Noche Libre is a group of friends, including our guests Emilly Prado, Diana Suarez and Jené Etheridge, who wanted a place to play music they grew up listening to. What began as one night of dance music at Holocene became a monthly event every third Thursday at Dig A Pony.
- Composer and vocalist Amenta Abioto and photographer Intisar Abioto are part of an astonishing family of creative women. They moved to Portland from Tennessee in the summer of 2010. Amenta’s music weaves opulent soundscapes drawing from crosscurrents of jazz and electronica. Intisar’s portraits of black life in Portland have received attention in The New York Times and elsewhere. Few artists have been as close to the subtle cultural shifts in the creative scene.
- One of the godmothers of Portland’s club scene, Anjali Hursh, aka DJ Anjali, has been throwing exhilarating Bhangra dance parties with her partner, The Incredible Kid, for more than 15 years. They get booked all over the world, but Portland is their home base. Years before Portland’s institutions were talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, Anjali was doing the hard work of creating events, toting her own gear and bringing the Bollywood sound to a mostly white audience.
Esperanza Spalding On She Shreds And Giving Back To Portland — 33:26
Among Fabi Reyna’s biggest fans is composer, bass player and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, one of the most innovative musicians Portland has ever produced. “By the time I met Fabi, I thought it was a big established publication already,” Spalding said. “But I didn’t realize how much she was doing. I didn’t understand how grassroots it really was.”
Listen to Spalding’s latest album, “12 Little Spells,” here.
The Makers Behind The Music — 38:41
One of the things Reyna wanted to impress on us is that women aren’t just playing guitar and bass. There are a lot of women also working behind the scenes, like the shops and studios where instruments are made. One such place is Ear Trumpet Labs in Northeast Portland, maker of specialty condenser microphones, prized by Elvis Costello, the Violent Femmes and Brandi Carlisle for their big-bodied sound, even when placed in front of loud amps. We met with Quinn Bleiler and Rodya Hutwagner from the production staff, and business manager Malachi Graham. We also visited effects pedal maker Catalinbread, a mad science lab for guitar nerds, for a chat with Stefanie Castillo and Anna Ridenour.