DJ Spooky

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DJ Spooky
DJ Spooky at Tribeca Cinemas celebrating Melvin Van Peebles in 2015
DJ Spooky at Tribeca Cinemas celebrating Melvin Van Peebles in 2015
Background information
Birth namePaul Dennis Miller
Born (1970-09-06) September 6, 1970 (age 52)
Washington D.C., United States
GenresElectronic, nu jazz, dub, reggae, illbient, trip hop
Occupation(s)Disc jockey, record producer
Years active1996–Present
LabelsAsphodel, Thirsty Ear, Universal Studios, Synchronic

Paul Dennis Miller (born September 6, 1970), known professionally as DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is an American electronic and experimental hip hop musician whose work is often called by critics "illbient" or "trip hop". He is a turntablist, record producer, philosopher, and author. He borrowed his stage name from the character The Subliminal Kid in the novel Nova Express by William S. Burroughs. Having studied philosophy and French literature at Bowdoin College, he has become a professor of Music Mediated Art at the European Graduate School[1] and is the executive editor of Origin magazine.


DJ Spooky at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival

Spooky began writing science fiction and formed a collective called Soundlab with several other artists.

In the mid-1990s, Spooky began recording a series of singles and EPs. His debut LP was Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Spooky contributed to the AIDS benefit albums Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip (1996) and Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon (1998) produced by the Red Hot Organization. Riddim Warfare included collaborations with Kool Keith and other figures in indie rock, including Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. In 2001, he released the CD Under the Influence.[2]

He returned in 2002 with Modern Mantra. That same year saw the release of Optometry, a collaboration with avant-jazz players Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Guillermo E. Brown and Joe McPhee. In a classical vein, he collaborated with the ST-X Ensemble in performances of the music of Iannis Xenakis.

DJ Spooky collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto on projects including The Discord Symphony. The concert and album were released as an enhanced CD containing both a full audio program and multimedia computer files. It features spoken-word performances by Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Patti Smith, David Sylvian, DJ Spooky, David Torn, and Bernardo Bertolucci.

He collaborated with Iannis Xenakis on the recording of Kraanerg, with the STX-Ensemble in 1997.

2005 saw the release of Drums of Death, DJ Spooky's CD based on sessions he recorded with Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Other guest artists include Chuck D of Public Enemy and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. The record was co-produced by Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto.

DJ Spooky joined the ninth[3][4] and eleventh[5] annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers. He was also a judge for the third Independent Music Awards.[6]

DJ Spooky has said that much of his work "deals with the notion of the encoded gesture or the encrypted psychology of how music affects the whole framework of what the essence of 'humaness' [sic] is... To me at this point in the 21st century, the notion of the encoded sound is far more of a dynamic thing, especially when you have these kinds of infodispersion systems running, so I'm fascinated with the unconscious at this point."[7]

Other work[edit]

DJ Spooky presents Vertov Enthusiasm- Sinfonia Donbassa (beta)

His work as an artist has appeared in a variety of contexts such as the Whitney Biennial; the Venice Biennale; the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum; Paula Cooper Gallery; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and many other museums and galleries. In 2007, his work appeared in the Africa Pavilion in the 52nd Venice Biennial. This remix of music from Africa was also distributed freely online, and promoted by the blog Boing Boing. "You give away a certain amount of your stuff, and then the cultural economy of cool kicks in", DJ Spooky said.[8]

In 2006, the song "Battle of Erishkigal", co-written by DJ Spooky and Frank Fitzpatrick, was featured in the anime-inspired film The Rebel Angel. In August 2009, DJ Spooky visited the Republic of Nauru in the Micronesian South Pacific to do research and gather material for a project in development, with a working title of The Nauru Elegies: A Portrait in Sound and Hypsographic Architecture.[9]

DJ Spooky's multimedia performance piece Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica[10] was commissioned by BAM for the 2009 Next Wave Festival; the Hopkins Center for the Arts/Dartmouth College; UCSB Arts & Lectures; Melbourne International Arts Festival; and the Festival dei 2 Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.

DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation, a remix of D. W. Griffith's 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, was commissioned in 2004 by the Lincoln Center Festival,[11] Spoleto Festival USA, Wiener Festwochen, and the Festival d'Automne a Paris.

In 2010, Miller formed The Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation, a contemporary arts organization dedicated to exploring dialog between Oceania and the rest of the world.

In 2011, Miller collaborated with Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills on a ballet work titled Echo Boom as part of The Mozart Project.[12]

In 2016, DJ Spooky composed a New Forms duet for carillon and a computational re-synthesis of the Tsar Bell, a Russian bell which broke before it was ever rung.[13]

In 2017, DJ Spooky started composing the music for Intercepted, a podcast produced by news publication The Intercept.[14]


Miller was born in Washington, D.C. to Paul E. Miller, who headed a panel of 12 African American law professors who assisted defense lawyers in the California trial of Angela Davis,[15] and Rosemary Reed Miller, historian and former owner, Toast and Strawberries, a Washington, D.C. boutique. DJ Spooky has a daughter born in 2011 to Fumika Yamamoto.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ DJ Spooky / Paul D. Miller Archived June 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Faculty page at European Graduate School (Accessed: June 4, 2010)
  2. ^ "CD REVIEWS: Tori Amos, Live, Macy Gray and many more". Chart Attack, September 18, 2001 By: Debbie Bento and Vincent Ziffle
  3. ^ "MicControl". Archived from the original on June 26, 2009.
  4. ^ "". Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "11th Annual IMA Judges. Independent Music Awards. Retrieved on September 4, 2013.
  6. ^ "Independent Music Awards – Past Judges". Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "ªªHyperdub¬¬¬¬¬Softwar". July 3, 2004. Archived from the original on January 21, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Kirsner, Scott (2009). Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age. Boston, MA: CinemaTech Books. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-4421-0074-9. Archived from the original on June 30, 2019. Retrieved April 6, 2009.
  9. ^ "The Nauru Elegies: A Portrait in Sound and Hypsographic Architecture". Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica". May 11, 2010. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "Rebirth of a Nation". July 8, 2005. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  12. ^ Eric Sandler. "Ballet Austin teams up with DJ Spooky on collaborative creation Th... - CultureMap Austin". CultureMap Austin.
  13. ^ Ng, Tiffany (November 26, 2018). Annotated Bibliography of African American Carillon Music (PDF) (Report). University of Michigan Library. p. 5. hdl:2027.42/146525. Retrieved June 28, 2022 – via DeepBlue.
  14. ^ Michael Lawrence. "DJ Spooky Explains How Sound Shapes Our Understanding of Politics". Vice. Retrieved on August 3, 2018
  15. ^ Special To The New York, Times (July 16, 1974). "Prof. Paul E. Miller Dead; Ex‐Dean of Howard Law, 38". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2017.

External links[edit]