JooWan Kim waits for his interview in the coffee shop, sipping tea from his own mug, with his legs neatly folded in the chair. His glasses and long black hair give him the look of a quiet intellectual, or a busy college student. Nothing in his appearance suggests that Kim is behind one of the Bay Area's most innovative hip-hop acts, Ensemble Mik Nawooj. The ensemble's shows combine a well-written classical score with legitimate hip-hop emcees.
Photo: Pat Mazzera Design: Raoul Ollman
It started by accident. In 2005, Kim was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and wanted to do something different for one of his shows. His drummer at the time introduced him to MC Kirby Dominant, and the pair collaborated on a song. After the show, Dominant suggested they should make an album together. "It eventually transformed my whole perspective on music," Kim says.
Five years later, after a few twists and turns in the music industry and a lot of soul searching, he was composing full-time for Ensemble Mik Nawooj, and running the label he co-founded, Golden Fetus Records. Kim recently spoke with SF Weekly about his musical projects and Ensemble Mik Nawooj's show this Saturday, Sept. 7, at Milk Bar.