It is no secret that throughout history, the music journalism field-and the music scene in general-have been oversaturated by men. Despite the advances women have made in gaining respect in the scene, the patriarchy of men in bands and music zines showing little respect for their female counterparts shows that much progress must still be made. Even as punk bands still show disrespect towards women and political candidates insult female journalists on television, women from the music and arts scenes in Washington, D.C. and beyond are giving women an opportunity to voice their thoughts and empower others to seek the change needed for our culture to progress.

In response to this trend, friends Paula Martinez, Farrah Skeiky, and “Crucial John” Scharbach founded Strawberry Dreams Fanzine as an outlet for all people who identify as women. We discussed with each of them how this project came to be and the messages they hope to share.

What inspired you to create this zine?

John: The whole idea actually came about from my friendship with Paula. We were talking one day about how much other feminist zines, and just zines in general, inspired her, and I suggested we do something similar that reflected contemporary culture and our own personalities. I’m really interested in tangible paper zines and graphic design, and I had ideas for content and how to make everything look consistent and interesting. Farrah was a friend of ours who was really motivated with the idea and joined up pretty quick after we told her about it. We just started, but we are all very excited. It seems like a lot of other people are too.

Why was it so important for you to give more women a voice in the music scene?

Paula: It’s important for me to give women a voice in the music scene because I am a woman in the music scene. I’ve been a woman in the music scene since I was a preteen. More often than not, growing up, I’d be one of the handful of girls going to shows/hanging out/being at band practices, and it was pretty uncomfortable at times. It’s easy to tell when people don’t respect you and don’t take you seriously, and it hurts. I don’t like feeling silenced. Trying to give myself a voice while also giving other girls a voice is an essential for me.

Farrah: As women in the scene, we have to work harder to create and amplify a voice for ourselves. Our sincerity and authenticity is in question more often than the males. This is especially true for non-cis (non-cisgender) women in the scene. There’s an expectation that we act cool and generally “shouldn’t” make a big deal about things that upset us, especially if those things are seen as exclusively female issues. So we have to take the incentive and create those opportunities instead of waiting around for an invitation.

I really enjoyed reading Paula’s opening article. I think it really set the tone for the change you are hoping to bring to sexism in music scenes throughout the country. Is that something you would agree with?

Paula: I mean that’s something I wrote out of very sincere frustration one day, but it’s me being completely honest, you know? I would hope that people read it, and it makes them really think about the way they treat us and it does bring a change. I’ve had many girls so far tell me how relatable it is, but I’ve also had guys tell me it’s bitter/harsh/off putting. Ideally though, guys would read it and react positively and not defensively, but we don’t live in an ideal world.

It’s apparent from this first issue that it the zine is about much more than music. Who are some of your “non-dude” role models, and what are some of the lessons they taught you?

Paula: My grandma is my biggest role model. She was a very independent person. She taught me a lot about not listening to what people have to say and being yourself at all times. She supported her family for most of her life and demanded respect from everyone she met. My mom is a big role model too, but she teaches me more about compassion and patience.

Farrah: My younger sister. My roommates. Paula. Morgan Hungerford West of ACreativeDC. Victoria Milko. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. All but one of these women are women I know, most of them are my age or younger. I think most of the younger women I meet today are smarter and more ambitious than me. Hopefully less cynical. I am excited to live in the world they will shape.

Another article I really enjoyed was Sharee Norton’s piece about her “60th Year.” How did you get her involved?

John: The first writing we got for the zine was Ayqa’s “a letter to my 20 year old self by my 20 year old self,” and after reading that I thought it would be an interesting idea to get similar writings from women at age 40 and age 60. I was at my friend Andy’s house when Paula showed me Ayqa’s piece, and I talked to Andy’s mom about the idea. She was really interested in contributing. Andy and I went out to dinner and by the time we got back to his house, his mom had finished the writing. She said writing it out was very therapeutic.

Are men allowed to submit content for the zine?

John: At this time, we think it’s important to keep the content exclusively female.

Farrah: Most zines that exist in this scene are either entirely male or mostly male. While I don’t think it’s intentional, I do think there are plenty more spaces where male voices are welcome, and Strawberry Dreams is more focused on anyone who identifies as female.

Will there be different themes for each issue?

John: It all depends on what people submit. We just want to showcase a wide range of ideas, opinions, and expressive methods from females all over, and if a theme pops up around submissions at the time of doing an issue, we have no problem structuring it in that way. Music is a common touchstone for all three of us, but we want to branch out and shine a light on a multitude of creative outlets.

Paula: I would love to get to a point where we can have themes to each issue, but like John said, right now it’s all about what people submit.

Have you received any submissions yet for your next issue, and do you know when it will be released?

Paula: We have received some. They’re wonderful, and I hope to receive more! I think we’ll start putting together the next issue in late/mid-August to have available through September.

In addition to Instagram, will you or have you launched a website or other social media pages for the zine?

Paula: I’m not really keen on social media, for the most part I use Instagram. Farrah and John are much better at those things

Farrah: We will at some point. We want to focus on creating a few more issues and we are already getting a great response with our current outreach

For more updates on Strawberry Dreams Fanzine, be sure to follow them on Instagram, or send them an email at [email protected].

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.