Paul Miller is DJ Spooky. The best question for this musician, composer, entrepreneur is ... Where are you now? The answer is Bonaire, but it was just Dubai and before that Germany. He has cut tracks with Stuart Copeland, Dave Lombardo and Kool Keith, to name a few. He is a National Geographic Explorer and he uses his talents to make a difference. He believes he can and he is proving it with actions as loud as his words.
Olivia Daane (OD): What is your latest project?
Paul Miller(PM): This year I’m working on an initiative with National Geographic in Abu Dhabi, and will be putting out a new album with some great folks from bands like The Police and electronic music. I’m also finishing my next book, and I wrote a composition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Internet, called Quantopia. It’s going to be a busy year.
OD: Biggest curiosity?
PM: Why people vote against their own interests. I really hope we can change things in 2020 with all aspects of the political landscape.
“EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO INFORMATION, BUT SO FEW USE IT.
I BELIEVE EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST.”
OD: Why music?
PM: Music was a hobby that took over! I was planning on being a diplomat.
OD: What’s different about right now when it comes to art and communication?
PM: Everyone has access to information, but so few use it. I believe everyone is an artist.
OD: Latest National Geographic exploration?
PM: Abu Dhabi. We made a series of short films about what global composers and artists like me can engage when we look at complex cultures around the world. I am intrigued by the paradoxes of moving toward a post fossil fuel economy in Abu Dhabi. It’s complicated. We shot footage at the Louvre, Masdar, and many other amazing places in Abu Dhabi. I plan on going back in 2020.
OD: Something man-made that inspires you?
PM: I’m deeply into architecture and I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of architects like David Adjaye and Bjarke Engels. Bjarke’s ideas around environmental resilience and New York are amazing - The Dryline.
OD: Something nature made?
PM: The most amazing thing we can see nature doing is the fact that weather is a chaos driven system. The Lorenz Effect shows chaos theory in Nature, or something like the “Three Body Problem” of Edward Poincairé - are phenomena that show the amazing complexity in Nature. We think we are above nature - we have barely scratched the surface. These kind of things inspire me. Plus the fact that they are super cool.
OD: Mentor? Inspiration?
PM: My biggest inspirations are from composers like Iannis Xenakis and John Cage on one hand, or GrandMaster Flash on the other.
OD: Greatest strength? Biggest challenge?
PM: I’d say my greatest strength is to be flexible. You’d be surprised at how far that can take you. My biggest challenge is to remember that many people are totally inflexible, so it’s a bit of a paradoxical scenario.
OD: How do you fuel up?
PM: I’m a huge fan of Paul Stamets and his books like “Mycelium Running” - bioremediation is one of the biggest things that can be done to help step up the battle against climate change.
OD: How do you wind down?
PM: I read books all the time.
Whenever I need to chill I just
read all the time.
OD: If you weren’t a DJ, explorer, entrepreneur, artist....what would you be? (That’s tough with you Paul because you do so many things so well!)
PM: I really wish I had time to focus on urban planning and design. That’s something that has really fascinated me for years. All the kinds of music I make is kind of a reflection of the urban context. I’d love to see if there’s more ways I can bring that to the forefront.
OD: What’s on your bedside(book)?
PM: Current reading - Chris Hedges “Empire Of Illusion,” Lauren Michele Jackson “White Negroes,” Chen Qiufan “Waste Tide” and stuff like Laphams Quarterly Journal.
OD: What’s on your playlist?
PM: I’ve been listening mostly to old stuff like jazz from Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, or dub reggae from Scientist and King Tubby. And a bit of FK Twigs.
OD: What’s next?
PM: I am focusing more on my art in 2020 and beyond.
OD: Someplace you want to go you haven’t yet?
PM: I really want to check out more remote islands. I’m writing this to you from Bonaire but yes, I love islands - Places like Ascension Island where Darwin really saw his theory of Evolution in action. That’s on my bucket list.
OD: Also can you give me a bit on your involvement with WeRiseUp.
PM: WeRiseUp is an amazing collective of folks pursuing a strong vision of progressive culture. I’m an Executive Producer on that film project. It’s a really life affirming film and I look forward to seeing it get wider release in 2020.