While some DJs will only mix house or hip-hop beats and ignore older music, Paul D. Miller — also known as DJ Spooky — uses old records as well, seeing them not as a dead space but a living space. Tomorrow, Miller will be at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series presenting an event called “Sound Unbound.”

Paul D. Miller aka. DJ Spooky

Tomorrow at 5:10 p.m.
The Michigan Theater
Free

“I try to dig into every sound,” Miller said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “I’ve taken images and sounds of different places and times and rearranged it. I guess the academic term is interdisciplinary … I move between genres and frames of reference — I think of art as the ultimate renewable resource.”

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Miller had aspirations of being a diplomat, and music was just something he did on the side — a diversion that allowed him to forget about his schoolwork.

“I got to taste how music could just be fun,” Miller said. “I didn’t have to think about diplomacy, foreign policy or macroeconomics.”

While a student at Bowdoin College in Maine, Miller saw DJ gigs as something to fill his summers between semesters. But soon, this newfound hobby grew into a more serious pastime. Miller started his own radio show, mixing tracks in what later could be seen as the beginnings of his career as a turntablist.

“Music was just a weird hobby that spiraled out of control,” he said.

After graduating with degrees in philosophy and French literature, Miller moved to New York, getting DJ gigs that paid enough to cover rent. For Miller, music had evolved from a hobby to a career, a shift that parallels the way he defines music.

“Any sound can be transformed into music,” he said. “You can take a digital media file and mix it with a YouTube clip. There’s no permanence right now, there are just revolutions.”

According to Miller, music’s constant metamorphosis can be seen in the life of any individual.

“The entire world is changing right now,” he said. “People no longer feel like they’re going to have permanent jobs or health care. These things are important parts of people’s lives. These are things that, as artists, we are going to have to face because the place we call home right now is culturally turbulent.”

Today, Miller is a writer, artist and DJ using his music to make audiences feel the way he feels about what’s going on in the world.

“That’s what makes it a masterpiece,” he said. “Music can be a reflection of any internal or emotional landscape, and it usually is.”

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