Alumni spotlight: Nina and Mikki Lim (‘19) release music under alias “Classically Contempo”


Rohan Prakash

The sister duo posts covers of popular songs on their YouTube channel “Classically Contempo.”

AV alumni Nina Lim (‘19) and Mikki Lim (‘19) released their first video on Youtube under the alias “Classically Contempo” in August 2015: a cover of Twenty One Pilots’ song “Holding on to You.” The two sisters would go on to release covers of popular songs on their channel, racking up about 14,000 subscribers and a million total views.

Both Lim sisters have vast musical backgrounds and experience. 

Mikki Lim mainly learned classical music, starting at four years old when she began learning piano. 

“I stuck with it until college and earned a certificate of merit,” she said. “I also learned the guitar and joined the marching band where I played marimba and piano.”

Although Nina Lim is usually seen playing the violin in the duo’s Youtube videos, she also learned various other instruments. 

“I started with violin lessons when I was five years old,” said Nina Lim. “I was playing in the middle school orchestra and high school orchestra. Then, Mikki told me how much fun Marching Band was, so I joined and got active in percussion. In senior year, I joined the choir and practiced singing.”

The duo credits Amador’s music program for inspiring them to pursue music professionally. 

“(We loved) the environment that Amador gave, (because) it’s such a great music program,” said Nina Lim. “I was surrounded by people that were also passionate about music, so it was mainly that community that inspired us.”

Nina believes that community greatly helped her with being a musician. 

“Community is one of the most important aspects when it comes to pursuing music,” she said. “The best thing you can do is maintain connections with other musicians. It will definitely help you in the future when making music.”

In the seven years that the sisters have been performing as Classically Contempo, they have achieved abundant success. Currently, they have about 6000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and their most popular release, a cover of Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love,” is at nearly 750,000 streams. They have performed at various events, most notably headlining for pianist Cecile Licad at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre in 2016.

However, they still have more goals for their future musical careers. 

“One goal of ours is to try to release more original music,” said Mikki Lim. “With Classically Contempo, we focused on it being more of a duo‒ dedicated to making covers and developing our skills with that. Classically Contempo is on hiatus right now because we’re trying to make our own albums instead of covers.”

Amador’s Marching Band director, Jonathan Grantham, holds fond memories of the sisters’ time at Amador. 

Nina and Mikki Lim were certainly fantastic musicians, both bringing their own elements of style and expression to their performances with the band,” said Grantham. “I think what I recall so fondly about their time in the band is how selfless they were as leaders, creators, and role models. It was an honor to teach both of them.”

Both sisters know that some days, musicians don’t feel like they are in their best mindset to perform or write music. However, they believe that persistence is key when it comes to making music. 

“Stick with it, even if it’s difficult or you just don’t feel like it,” said Mikki Lim. “There are so many covers that we did when we were in a really bad mood and we didn’t want to do it. But we stuck with it because, at the end of the day, it’s something we love doing. We want to continue making music and inspiring others.”