Watch: Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, explains how music can spark contemplation and change.

Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky

Artist, Writer, Musician; 2014 Emerging Explorer

Picture of Paul Miller, DJ Spooky

Photograph by Roberto Masotti

Composer, writer, and musician Paul D. Miller's multimedia performances, recordings, art installations, and writings immerse audiences in a blend of genres, raising awareness about climate change, sustainability, global culture, the role of technology in society, and other pressing environmental and social issues. His multimedia composition, book, and installation "The Book of Ice" creates an experiential visual and acoustic portrait of Antarctica's disappearing environment. In "Nauru Elegies," he explores, through a string ensemble, video, animation, and live Internet feed, problems facing the environmentally exploited South Pacific island of Nauru. He also founded Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation, a sustainable arts center on the island of Vanuatu. Miller first rose to worldwide fame as hip-hop turntablist "DJ Spooky" and is now a sought-after lecturer and performer at prestigious venues, arts institutions, and universities on every continent. His free, open-source iPad app, DJ Mixer, has been downloaded over 20 million times. It gives users DJ tools to mix, scratch, and add electronic effects to tracks from their own digital libraries. He was the first artist-in-residence at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Where were you born?

Washington, D.C.

Where do you currently live?

New York City

How did you get started in your field of work?

I was never planning on being a musician. I was planning on being a diplomat who enjoyed art and technology. Instead I became an artist/musician who enjoys diplomacy. The irony of it all.

What has been your most rewarding or memorable experience in your field?

One of the most rewarding things of my life, and one of the most powerful experiences I've had, has been watching my mom recover from Stage 4 cancer. Seeing her strong will, a relentless search for information about her illness, and the way my mom made my family pull together in time of crisis was a powerful thing.

What's a normal work day like for you?

Email, email, email, and research. No telephone calls please.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn Mandarin!

In Their Words

Music and art can be vehicles for provoking thought, overcoming inertia, and helping people engage with issues that are exponentially reshaping our information-driven world.

—Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky

More About Miller's Projects

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    Secret Sounds

    Miller creates symphonies from the everyday nature he sees in the world.

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    Seoul Counterpoint

    This audiovisual anthropology juxtaposes the diverse landscapes, histories, and sonic cultures of Seoul and New York.

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    A Civil War Symphony

    Miller partners with the Metropolitan Museum to mix electronic music with photos from the Civil War.

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    Antarctica Symphony

    DJ Spooky was sent to Antactica to shoot a film about the sound of ice.