Sometimes magazines are made because someone wants to speak but doesn’t know what to say – or worse – has nothing to say. She Shreds has a voice and a clear-cut message: despite doubt, women guitarists and bassists exist. It seems an absurd statement to make, but the prevalence of the constant disregard and exclusion of women musicians has ignited this magazine into existence. And the fire is fierce.
Now on their fourteenth issue, She Shreds is ever shifting with the tide, only recently celebrating five years of ‘pushing the guitar industry forward through inclusivity, visibility, education, and embracing alternate perspectives.’
Only last year, 80% of festival headliners were male. In the magazine Liz Pelly quotes the New York Times which headlined ‘Women Have Saved Rock Music Again’ as if they weren’t there already. It’s this downtrodden talk which would quash the dreams of any aspiring guitarist, but She Shreds creates a stage in which these artists can perform without being silenced.
The tenacity and vivacity of its editor, Fabi Reyna, motivates each page, filling it with riffs and articles but mostly interviews with new and established musicians. As anyone in the creative industry will acknowledge, the world is not kind. These are straight-talking mentors to hearken to, especially if you are fresh-faced to the scene, not worldly-wise, but down-to-earth and practical. These guitarists are instructive on how to deal with rejection, failure and being overlooked, as much as they are happy to expose the perks and triumphs within their trade. Their passion for their music is raw and honest, and not without practicality.
A one block colour theme throughout adds a feeling of consistency and togetherness, uniting the artists under one common banner. Interspersed with natural portrait photography, it presents its interviewees in realms of accessibility. They are not glorified on huge stages or cocooned in crowds of adoring fans, but spoken to mostly in the comfort of their homes or local haunts. For anyone else picking up a guitar for the first time, this image is relatable.
They will not hide behind the guise of quick ascension to fame and glory. That’s not the point. She Shreds encourages collectiveness, with each musician highlighting social awareness. Chilean gold and platinum album winner Francisca Valenzeula founded Ruidosa, an international music festival which ‘encourages women and non-binary folks to raise their voices.’ The interview with Renee Scroggins reveals her forty years of experience within the music industry with her band ESG, which now includes her own daughter Christelle. The affectionate way in which Molly Rankin of Alvvays speaks about her keyboardist and best friend Keri shows the deep-rooted connections bands can form. There is community to be found in music; it should not have borders.
This is why I love independent magazines, because they have the ability and the space to shine a light on something different. Or to show you a world which mainstream media overlooks or takes as novel. I still believe it is a shame that women have to be applauded at their success, as if it was totally unexpected. It must be normalised, rather than prized, because it isn’t a rare thing. There are girls and women all around who shred just as well, if not better, then the rest of them. The only thing that matters is their unity and their audience. It’s not playing the right tune, it’s getting enough ears to listen.