DJ Spooky is the Ilbient and Trip-Hop production and performance alias of US producer, DJ, artist, philosopher and author Paul Miller. A pioneering producer and performer, Miller’s work transcends music genres and media forms. He has released more than 20 albums, produced films and scored movies.
During his youth in Washington D.C. Paul Miller followed the local Hardcore Punk scene as well as British Ska and Punk.
As he grew up he became a keen follower of the emerging Hip Hop movement and when he moved to New York to study he formed the underground Hip Hop Soundlab collective. The Soundlab collective evolved into one of the foundation stones of the Trip-Hop offshoot genre Ilbient in which Miller would make a name for himself.
Between 1994 and 1995 Miller released a few singles and E.P.s under his new production alias DJ Spooky, The Subliminal Kid. He took the Subliminal Kid moniker from the by William Burroughs novel ‘Nova Express’.
Miller signed a record deal with Asphodel in 1996 and released his debut album ‘Songs Of A Dead Dreamer’ (Asphodel 1996), the lead single from which was ‘Galactic Funk’ (Asphodel 1996). The success of ‘Galactic Funk’ led to a spate of remixes for artists as diverse as Nick Cave and Metallica. Also at this time Miller started working as a journalist writing regular columns for various publications including Vibe.
Throughout the next five years Miller helped shape and define the Trip-Hop and Ilbient genres through his continual experimentation and testing of boundaries, in the process releasing nine albums and compilations. In 1998 he composed the film score for the award winning movie 'Slam'.
In 2002 Miller released no fewer than four DJ Spooky albums including ‘Modern Mantra’ (Shadow Records 2002) and ‘Optometry’ (Thirsty Ear 2002), a critically acclaimed collaboration with avant-garde Jazz musicians which spawned the successful single ‘Ibid, Desmarches, Ibid’ (Thirsty Ear 2002).
Two years later Miller released the acclaimed book ‘Rhythm Science’ and his landmark work ‘Rebirth Of A Nation’. ‘Rebirth Of A Nation’ was a reworking of an early American film ‘Birth Of A Nation’ mixed with Hip Hop beats, samples and visual effects, creating a critique on America’s road to multi-culturalism. Miller performed ‘Rebirth Of A Nation’ across the globe including at the Sydney Festival in Australia.
The following year Miller released the album ‘Drums Of Death’ (Thirsty Ear 2005), a collaboration with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, exploring what Miller referred to as ‘non-knuckle-dragger Hip Hop’. The album included the successful single ‘B-Side Wins Again’(Thirsty Ear 2005).
In 2007 Miller made remixes from his album ‘Afrique Universelle - La Biennale Di Venezia’ (Synchronic 2007) available for free online, saying "You give away a certain amount of your stuff, and then the cultural economy of cool kicks in".
In 2009 released the album ‘The Secret Song’ (Thirsty Ear 2009), a tour-de-force of beats, samples and soundscapes.
Paul Miller is one of electronic music’s true innovators, pushing the boundaries of creativity way beyond the traditional limits of the form and almost single handedly creating the Ilbient genre. Yet his thirst for experimentation also means that his music rarely breaks through to the large mainstream audiences of Downtempo compatriots such as DJ Shadow.
Paul Miller’s father was the Dean of Howard University Law School (and died when he was a young child) and his mother owned a Washington boutique Toast and Strawberries. Miller travelled extensively as a child, accompanying his mother on business trips. Miller has degrees in French literature and philosophy.