As a music student I felt pretty stifled by the contemporary concert music aesthetic so, to piss off my composition teachers, I created a novelty piece that featured a chamber group and rapper.
Mission accomplished – they were not happy. However, to my surprise the audience and the press loved the combination of hip-hop and classical. My MC at the time suggested that we make an album together and I spent the next six months writing this weird music that I had no idea about. I got seriously into hip-hop, listening to classics like Wu-Tang, Nas, and Dre... etc..
But it was Straight Outta Compton that really converted me. At that moment, I realised that hip-hop wasn't just a clever structure or new way of organising sounds but a profound necessity of the expression that makes something an art.
I like to say Dr. Dre baptised me into the river of hip-hop and I was reborn as a free musician. That was the beginning of this whole journey.
In 2010 I founded Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN) with my best friend Christopher Nicholas and together we have pushed back the boundaries.
It’s this that we will be bringing across to Edinburgh in August when we present The Hip-hop Orchestra Experience, which has a 19-piece chamber orchestra with full strings, woodwinds, French horn, soprano, drums, piano, MC, and a Turf (an Oakland, CA originated street dance) dancer.
The project is a collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and it will be their students and alumni who form the chamber orchestra. We are hugely excited to be working with such high level Scottish musicians in this way.
For audiences it'll be a complete integration and reframing of classical and hip-hop elements that renders something exciting and new. It's more in the vein of performing arts and concert music but with an ample attitude and edges of hip-hop, and we hope that this is just the beginning, the show is a beta version, a half underground party and a half orchestra concert.
We'd like to put this show in different metropolitan areas featuring local elements in the front and centre. For instance, in Paris, we'll have a French MC, local graffiti artists for design, local dance crew to be featured while sourcing musicians from conservatories and regional orchestras. We'd love to create a German version of it in Berlin... etc.
So, if you are around for the Fringe, please join us for what we hope will be a musical experience unlike any you’ve enjoyed before.
Tickets available here.