WHO: Brisa Gonzalez (vocals), Papi Fimbres (percussion), Fabiola Reyna (guitar).
SOUNDS LIKE: The soundtrack to a bilingual avant-garde indie film yet to be made.
FANS OF: La Luz, Guantanamo Baywatch, Las Robertas.
As Savilá, Fabiola Reyna and Brisa Gonzalez make music as a form of therapy—for themselves and others.
"We're creating music from our hearts to heal ourselves," Reyna says, "and heal the people around us who kind of need that same discovery, regardless of what they're healing from."
Inspired by female musicians in from multiple genres—electronic, tejano, pop, world music, R&B and cumbia—and driven by their experiences and surroundings, Gonzalez and Reyna are on a mission to create music that is therapeutic and moving, weaving traditional and contemporary elements into their own unique sound. Hypnotic surf riffs flow from Reyna's guitar as Gonzalez's soothing vocals glide from English to Spanish between percussionist Papi Fimbres' restrained drumming.
It's passionate, captivating and has an underlying darkness that creates depth and mystery. But it also has an unexplainable calming quality, mixed with a slight heaviness.
Reyna has been in bands pretty much since her mother handed her her first guitar at an early age. Born in Cancún, Mexico, she graduated from high school in Austin and made her way to Portland immediately after. Prior to forming Savilá, she made a name for herself with She Shreds, the magazine she founded that's dedicated to changing the way women guitarists and bass players are viewed in the music world.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, was born and raised in Portland. She's used music as a tool to help bring her closer to a part of her culture that was absent growing up.
"I felt very isolated being raised in a very white community where the only other Mexican woman I knew was my mom," she says. "So it's really beautiful for me to create music that helps me connect to my roots."
The duo started writing songs together five years ago. In the early days, it was just the two of them with rotating percussionists, including Marian Li Pino from Seattle dream-surf band La Luz. They solidified themselves as a trio last year when they locked down influential Portland percussionist Papi Fimbres, whose facility with Latin rhythms—most evident from his local cumbia orchestra, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical—made him the ideal third member.
So far, Savilá have only two recorded songs online, but they've already opened for the likes of Deerhoof, the Thermals and Bomba Estéreo. Their first album should be out sometime in March. But right now, they are really focused on raising the profile of Portland's growing community of musicians of color.
"We really want to continue to collaborate with other artists that we align with creatively, spiritually, politically—and especially with other women and people of color," Gonzalez says, "We're hoping to be a part of the movement that's happening right now through art and culture that will hopefully be bigger than us."
SEE IT: Savilá plays NXT LVL X She Shreds J20 Rally After-Party at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts, 15 NE Hancock St., with Sassyblack, Fuck U Pay Us, Guayaba and Blossom, on Saturday, Jan. 20. 7 pm. $15. 21+. Go here for tickets.