Two paths

Athena Camille

Athena Camille describes herself as a "crazy, fun, singing, dancing Greek Filipino."

Athena Camille describes herself as a "crazy, fun, singing, dancing Greek Filipino."

Photo/Kent Irwin

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Who is Athena Camille?

“I’m that crazy, fun, singing, dancing Greek Filipino.”

Athena isn’t a stage name. Her father, a Greek immigrant, decided that his children would have the noble names of their heritage. Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, was his choice for his daughter. Camille grew up in Reno, spending summers in Greece. She considers her heritage influential on her style.

“When you approach American culture with an outside perspective, you think a certain way,” Camille said. “We get too focused on materialism, being rich. I just feel rich with love and family.”

Camille started singing and dancing at an early age, in ballet, jazz dance and other styles. She used dancing as a way to release the pressure of daily life. In school, she proved her prowess at her neighborhood rec center, where kids would hold impromptu dance battles.

“If there’s something I’m pissed off about, I want to vibe out to some music, or dance it out. That’s my No. 1 release.”

Soon, Camille started teaching all the styles she had learned and honed. Working in dance, while continuing to do it for fun, started to put considerable strain on her body. When her knees had swollen to an agonizing size, she finally visited a doctor. Once she was diagnosed with arthritis, her first thought was that it had been worth it to spend those years dancing.

“I still miss it,” she said. “I still have dreams of being in the dance studio.”

Her diagnosis led Camille to focus on music. Her older brother helped write music, as well as rap lyrics. He’d always been her champion, before tragically dying young.

For Camille, music is everything. She continued to make appearances at the open mic at Ruben’s Cantina, where she met her husband, who goes by the name YB.

“I thought, who is this guy following us?” said Camille, recalling her first impression. “He’s cute, though.”

The two struck a bond over their passion for music, dance, and hip-hop culture. They found that they had in common the untimely deaths of brothers. YB was living with the pain of his brother’s murder. They developed a professional and personal relationship immediately.

“With us, it’s not about money, guns and hoes," said Camille. "We experienced the death of people close to us. It makes us want to talk about real shit.”

Today, YB and Camille self-produce music from their home studio. They’re working on the release of a new single titled: “Rollin’ Down the Strip.”

“That’s gonna be the hit of the year,” Camille said. “Anyone who hears it will love it.”

Camille categorizes herself as different from other 21 year olds in that her work is designed to help support her family. Her father, who runs local restaurant Niko’s Greek Kitchen, contracted cancer after a series of unrelated surgeries. Camille is arranging a benefit concert to appeal to the community that loves him and his restaurant, which prides itself on treating its customers like family.

“Cancer ain’t cheap,” said Camille.

Camille says everything she does is to support her family. She tells of how her grandmother, back in Greece, was a gifted singer before turning away from the path of a recording artist to support her family. Camille feels that today, the two paths don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The goal, as Camille sees it, is to help create a tighter-knit community of local rappers and artists, who too often get carried away trying to outdo one another.

“The Great Wall of China wasn’t built by one person,” said Camille. “We gotta support each other to make it work.”