by Tracy Darlington
The Washington Projects Interview
"We as Christians NEED to write, sing, paint, dance, and do anything else we can to express and rejoice in the truth that God created LIFE."
The Washington Projects are brother and sister team Jekob Washington and Rachael Washington. They are 2 of the 3 original members of The Souljahz, who recorded and released their first major label debut entitled The Fault is History in May of 2002 released on Word/Warner Bros. Records, immediately garnering worldwide press coverage that continually singled them out as "a smash act in the making".
The years that would follow are best described as the lost years. They were virtually operating without label support for a little over 2 years. Time & hardships affect every group in a different way, and in July 2006 the group known as Souljahz among their fans for over 8 years disbanded due to irreconcilable differences with their record label. Rather than go to court over the use of the name to finally be able to release a new record after a 4 year absence, they decided to use the name given to them by birth which no one can ever take from them. The Washington Projects.
Tracy: When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
RACHAEL: Well for me personally, I knew from a very young age. I used to love singing along to every Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston song on the radio trying to hit all of their high notes!
What do you know now, that you wish you’d known when you first started in music?
JE’KOB: I wish we would have known that in most cases signing a Record deal is more give than take. We learned a lot in the last 4 years, watching other friends & artists’ careers, as well as our own, get put on hold due to record label red tape. We don’t regret one minute of it, but if we would have known the ins and outs of the business sooner we would have avoided a lot of head and heartaches. But the lessons you learn through experience really stick with you, empowering you to never make the same mistakes twice.
Tell us about when you went to Iraq to entertain our troops. What was most memorable about your experience there?
RACHAEL: For me it was seeing the injured troops in the hospitals. Going there and being able to talk with them was amazing. They were so happy to see us, and even though they’d just been though the biggest trial of their lives they were smiling. It really made me change my attitude towards the small trials I go through daily.
You had so much recognition as the group SoulJahz. Is it a challenge now to be known as The Washington Projects?
RACHAEL: So far it hasn’t been too much of a challenge. The fans who knew us as SoulJahz usually recognize us for that. And the ones who’ve never heard of SoulJahz don’t know the difference. (Ha ha.)
Is there anything you’d like to see change about the Christian music industry?
JE’KOB: YES!! The Traditional thinking of folks that feel that every artist who claims to be a Christian in the industry must convey Jesus’ message in a particular way that suits them or their church. Rarely do we get flack for having “mainstream appeal”, but once in a while it happens. We thought the whole point of creating music intertwined with the message of Christ was exactly that, to reach a LOST world. We commend & need more artist like P.O.D., Switchfoot, The Washington Projects (Ha ha) and anyone else who steps outside the comfort zone and cozy little box of traditional thinking to do a great work for the kingdom of God.
How did the visit with your family in Hawaii help you recharge?
RACHAEL: I took a lot of time to just get to know myself. My heart, my dreams, my calling. I spent a lot of time just worshipping God. It was the first time I’d ever been on a worship team and it helped me to just give it all to God through worship. To just praise Him through the trials.
What’s the mission of The Washington Projects?
JE’KOB: In almost every way the world has perverted the very gifts God has given us to enjoy in this life. Relationships, love, fun, dancing, fellowship, etc... to the point that many people in the church today think it’s wrong to sing about, or express them at all. We feel our calling or mission as a group is to simply take these beautiful things back. To boldly represent Christianity in a mainstream music industry that teaches Lust instead of Love, Cheat instead of Be faithful, and Greed & Pride instead of contentment and humility, and to break the mold of traditional thinking in the church and Christian industry that teaches, “If the world accepts it and plays it ‘It’s not of God.’” God came to save the world, I accepted and was drawn to his message when I was in the world, and so many others do and will continue to until his return. According to Christianity, in this life there are only two things spiritually you can be, that is Saved or Not Saved. So at some point God and his message must appeal to and change us as sinners, right? God created LIFE, and all the amazing things that we enjoy in it. We as Christians NEED to write, sing, paint, dance, and do anything else we can to express and rejoice in that truth. Family, fun, friends, relationships, and all the ups-and downs in between, Jesus walks with us through all of it. After all, how will the world know we’re different if you don’t show them in our swagger.
What message do you hope people will come away when they listen to Commanders of the Resistance?
RACHAEL: Just that. Our mission in melody… We hope that people will listen to this record and hear our hearts. What we’ve been through and where it has brought us. And through that we hope that they will leave encouraged to break away from the norm, be different & make a change.
What was the biggest challenge you had when you recorded Commanders of the Resistance?
RACHAEL: I would have to say it was definitely a challenge choosing the songs for this album. We had A LOT of material to choose from. After all, we’d had a few years to work on it. (ha ha.) So it was a bit of a struggle trying to narrow it down since so many of the songs were close to our hearts.
What type of music would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
RACHEL: I’d love to do a full solo record of Love Songs one day. Stuff that helps people when going through relationship ups and downs. The gift of love is so amazing and I just feel so inspired to one day put together a real serious record on the gift of Love.
In your opinion what steps should people take if they want to get closer to God?
JE’KOB: First - Try your best to understand that to truly find God you must completely and utterly lose yourself. Second – Get rid of anything in your life that draws you away from God. To find God you have to break free from the chains that are drawing you back to the world. Third – Trust him.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
RACHAEL: For me it’s all about staying in the Word. It reminds me of where I need to be. Also, just talking with my savior. Taking the time each day, whether it be while I’m driving (with my eyes OPEN) (haha.) Or while I’m laying in my bed, just spending a lot of time thanking the Lord for everything He’s given me, and then taking time to listen and let Him put things on my heart. It’s also huge to have a support system of other believers in your life to help you along the way. I’ve been really blessed to always have that.
Do you any advice to someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?
RACHAEL: Just be open. Always have an open arms approach. And pray. Prayer is alive and real! Ask the Lord to give you the opportunity and He will.
If you could say one thing to this generation what would you say?
JE’KOB: No matter what you are going through Jesus Christ IS the answer. God is desperately waiting for you to come back to him. Lose this life to truly find it.
Is there anything you do to beat stress and keep in shape while on the road?
JE’KOB: Big Macs and Chai Lattes. It’s a fairly new diet.
I’m sure you have some fun road stories. Can you share one with us?
RACHAEL: All I have to say is that Jek likes to run into doors. Let’s leave it at that. (ha ha.)
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
JE’KOB: My fears are ugly feet, Cockroaches, and the puzzling idea of how cameras capture time and space.
When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
RACHAEL: Watching moooovies. I thinks that’s all I do… sing and watch movies. Ha!
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
JE’KOB: Cooooookie Crisp!!
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
RACHAEL: Bagels and cream cheese, snap peas and ranch dip, and tangerines.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
RACHAEL: I can only order a few things at Starbucks because I can’t have caffeine so usually I get a Decaf iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte with whipped cream.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
RACHAEL: This dude named Ernie Halter and the new Alicia Keys.
Where can we find you guys on a Friday night?
JE’KOB: Sleeping. We are not boring but more people desperately need to get some sleep. I don’t know if this percentage is accurate and I’d be willing to bet it’s not, but I’d venture to say that 95% of the bad things that happen in this world, happen at night around the time when people should be in their frilly shirts and pjs sleeping.
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
JE’KOB: Join The Family street team @ http://www.washingtonprojects.com/twpthefamilyhome.html
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.