Ensemble Mik Nawooj

“You gotta be more social, JooWan.”
Monday, August 15, 2016

For the third year, artists and managers were nominated by WAA members. Meet the three artists who were accepted into Launchpad 2016 program.

Tell us about your work.

To quote a portion of our mission statement—​
Ensemble Mik Nawooj creates new American indigenous art music based on the musical materials of Hip-Hop and by sampling compatible classical compositional techniques. The music is rigorous, nuanced, accessible, and free from the dogmas of the Western European concert music aesthetic. We have achieved this by going “deeper” into the materials of Hip-Hop, both the raw musical elements and its methods of organization (i.e. sampling). These materials were then hybridized with the rationales and instrumentation of Western European classical music.

More on what we do...​


How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist, and where were you?

10 years old. I listened to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in its entirety on a cassette tape with my mother and sister back in South Korea. I was deeply moved by its coherent structures and emotional power. And even more so, by the fact that Beethoven was completely deaf when he wrote it. Though, I didn’t pursue being a composer right away, I pretty much decided to do something like what he did. It was a profound and subconscious choice.

"If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?"

Three people I trust. Two women and one man.

What is the best advice you’ve gotten in your career thus far?

“You gotta be more social, JooWan.” - Christopher Nicholas (Executive Director, Ensemble Mik Nawooj)

Name an artist you’d love to meet and why?

Quentin Tarantino. In Pulp Fiction, he creates a narrative free from standard chronological form by borrowing literary structures. The movie starts at a diner with a couple who are about to rob the place, then cuts to a completely new storyline, and another... until the end in which he brings them all together. Tarantino gives subtle hints on how they’re connected throughout the film. The movie feels almost like a musical piece in which the themes are developed and juxtaposed in various ways. I remember clearly, after watching the film, realizing that this was a work of a genius.

This idea of “sampling” the rationales of other disciplines and applying them to create an alternative system in one’s own field, is precisely how I put my pieces together.

“If I weren’t doing this I’d…”

Develop a product or service which disrupts an existing paradigm and creates a new market. Then proceed to corner the aforementioned market in order to maximize the profit. And no, it’s of course not a monopoly. There’s Uber and there’s Lyft. I’ll just be Uber.

What are your 3 goals for the rest 2016?

Raise $1.5 million

Build a healthy board

Drink good wines which are naturally produced, affordable, and with no or very little sulfites.

What are you working on now?

  1. Producing The Future of Hip-Hop conference, which identifies and presents innovators and disruptors in the subfields of Hip-Hop (music, graffiti, and dance). The first iteration takes place on August 13th at Impact Hub in Oakland, CA.
  1. Writing for EMN’s third studio album which will be premiered as our first prototype Hip-Hop Oratorio in July, 2017 at Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.