Interview with Rahel Haile and DonChristian Jones.
Camp and Street
Friendship, Collaborative Creativity, and Self-Affirmation
Jazmine Sullivan’s “Brand New” is playing in the background and I’m chilling on a vintage couch in 27-year-old Rahel Haile’s sunny yellow studio apartment atop a highrise in Harlem. The view is gorgeous: the Queens skyline and Bronx projects nestled in the background, the Harlem river in the foreground. Haile tells me she prefers this view to the one most New Yorkers covet: the Manhattan skyline. Haile is right at home in Harlem, she’s from the Bronx nearby but spent idle childhood hours in the neighborhood she’s put down permanent roots in as an adult. A consummate host, she offers coffee to the room at large. Fellow Camp and Street crew member 25-year-old DonChristian Jones, who met Haile at Wesleyan University, is seated near the window in an all black onesie. We both jump at the chance for an early morning caffeine injection. Haile heads to the kitchen as Jones lights a Marlboro Black. Smoke fills the air in small eddies that snake through wintry morning sunlight.
Mask Mag was lucky enough to grab facetime with these two as part of an interview with Camp and Street, a down-ass crew of artists, producers, singers, and visionaries – a number of whom connected at Wesleyan but mostly call New York home. Our interview took place just before singer and crew member Rahel dropped her new album, Alkali. Like most of what Camp and Street puts out, Alkali is both a collective effort and a labor of love. Rahel’s debut album, which was produced by The Drum’s Jeremiah Meece, includes collaborations with DonChristian, Le1f, and others.
Do you think of Camp and Street as a collective?
RH: We were discussing what it is exactly that makes us a crew. It really is about having a shared frame of mind – being on the same page about not just taste in music and what we like, but also our politics. How we carry ourselves, who we are, and our intentions. It’s more than just the collective exchanging of work – it’s also about being real human beings with each other.
DCJ: It’s a feeling. We’re more than just a collective or a record label. It has more to do with our personal relationships with one another and the different ways we interact and collaborate with one another. We’re all very different as individuals, but we are like-minded in the ways in which we make things. We’re very genuine and earnest and we’re not making work that people are telling us to make. We’re simply making work that we want to make.
So I think, you know, everyone probably has some Camp and Street in them. It’s just a matter of…
RH: What you gon do about it?
DCJ: Laughs. What you gon do about it.