In 2008, two teenage girls from Texas arrived at Summerfest for a Rush concert. Exploring the festival grounds before the show, they quickly reached a prophetic conclusion: “We’re gonna play here one day.” Eleven years later, thesesisters prepare to take the stage for their fifth Summerfest performance tonight at 7 p.m. on the Miller Lite Oasis Stage.
REYNA is a pop duo composed of Gabby and Vic Banuelos, supported by Patrick Ridgen on percussion. The sisters moved to Milwaukee in 2009, where they eventually kicked off their musical careers as Vic and Gab, an indie group that received substantial local acclaim.
In 2016, the siblings started a new musical chapter by launching a new group called REYNA; this transition marked a clear shift in their style and energy.
“We have more tools; we have more help,” Vic said of REYNA’s production style. “Everything is more intentional.”
Gabby and Vic felt that even their new name was more purposeful and emblematic of their personalities; REYNA is a play on the word ‘queen’ in Spanish, a nod to their heritage and a representation of strength.
Well before that 2008 Rush concert, Gabby and Vic knew they wanted to perform together. When they were very young, their grandmother would bring them to nursing homes to sing in a mariachi band for the residents. Just a few years later, around ages 9 and 11, they began writing songs on their own, and continued to do so throughout middle and high school.
So far, REYNA has dealt primarily in singles. The band’smost recent song, “The Way I Loved You,” came out less than a week before Summerfest began; this is the first in a series of singles that will make up an EP to be released this fall.
In the spring of 2019, REYNA participated in the Backline program, which is designed to provide select local musicians with mentoring and networking opportunities.
Although it emphasized industry networking, Backline also reminded Gabby and Vic that ultimately, it just comes down to doing what you love.
“You have to make sure that you’re writing music you believe in,” Vic said. True to these words, REYNA’s lyrics are built largely on personal experience and storytelling, providing their performances with a strong sense of sincerity.
Gabby summed up her approach to music in one concise statement: “Be authentic, be yourself and don’t give up. Don’t take no for an answer.”