Coming at the middle of their brief west coast tour, Ensemble Mik Nawooj will provide students a free show at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center Nov. 8. In hopes of providing a more educational music experience, Long Beach State student musicians and dancers will be joining the performance.
“It’s music that brings people together,” said Christopher Nicholas, executive director of the group.
The artistic balance of EMN is made up by composer and pianist JooWan Kim, lyricist and MC Sandman and co-producer Christopher Nicholas. All three individuals come from musically educated backgrounds.
Originally from Busan, South Korea, Kim received his composition degrees from Berkley College of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He founded EMN in 2010 after he invited Nicholas to join him in his project of creating a new style of composition he began while in graduate school. The name, Mik Nawooj, is Kim’s full name in retrograde.
Beginning his track record with a hip-hop group called “The Attik,” Sandman shared stages with acts like E-40 and Mr. FAB in his early career. A veteran to performing, the Oakland native has rocked stages from the Bay Area to New York and regions overseas. He joined EMN in 2013.
Hailing from Miller Place, New York, Nicholas co-founded EMN with Kim. In 2016, he directed the second album campaign for the group, which received national recognition from media outlets around the world.
“[Our target audiences] are the concert-goers who are tired of the same old repertoire,” Nicholas said. “Our goal is to render new concert music aesthetic that’s rigorous and accessible to the public.”
Since its founding, EMN has attracted numerous classical musicians and MCs in the Bay Area. Each member of the group has drawn off their own personal influences to contribute to the act’s formation and development.
“When I heard N.W.A.’s ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ I felt like I was in a rapture,” Kim said. “I was dipped into the river of hip-hop … at that moment, I knew I had to examine the underlying structures of hip-hop and create concert music.”
In their creating process, Kim first lays down instrumentals that a larger band also performs. Then, Sandman and a classical singer record their vocals. After both sets are recorded, small electronic layers or extra vocal layers are added if needed to give their music more depth.
“I try to bring what I like about [jazz, choral music and Euro pop] into the recording studio when I co-produce … the recordings,” Nicholas said.