Paul is here today to discuss his new book Rhythm Science, a book which has been published by the very distinguished MIT Press and one that has become one of their top selling books. It also ranked in the 'best of year' lists in both the Guardian (London) and Publishers Weekly (US). Paul is also here to inform you of his new multimedia show entitled "Rebirth Of A Nation" which he is currently touring around the world. Ladies and Gentlemen, please make him feel welcome... Paul D. Miller!
DJ Spooky's tour is being advertised in Sydney, Australia on television as part of the Sydney Festival and on the commercial it states that DJ Spooky was named one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Trendsetters of our time" and when confronted by this Paul, quite stunned, simply states "I didn't know anything about that! I better ask my manager about that". Seems quite obvious that he's too wrapped up in his work to even think about awards and titles.
Wrapped up in being a hip hop DJ/producer? (No pun intended.) Well according to Paul, he likes to keep himself busy with all three areas of his art. In fact he is currently working on his new album. "The new album is called Drums Of Death and I'm currently working with Dave Lombardo the drummer from Slayer and Meat Beat Manifesto who is producing it all. The album is going to feature collaborations with the likes of Chuck D from Public Enemy". Working with both hip hop and heavy metal artists is nothing new for Spooky as he's done both on his Riddim Warfare album from 1998 and on the Spawn soundtrack where he reworked Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" into a frantic drum'n'bass number with bass done by Spooky himself!
Which brings us to his most recent mix CD, Celestial Mechanix released on Thirsty Ear - a record label who's artist roster consists of free jazz musicians to forward thinking hip hop (El-P and Anti Pop Consortium) and electronic music artists (DJ Spooky, Meat Beat Manifesto, DJ Wally and the UK's Spring Heel Jack). Spooky describes the mix as "... a collage of sounds breaking down the boundaries between different forms of music. I basically cut and pasted elements of music from my earlier releases on Thisty Ear like Optometry, Dubtometry and music from other Thirsty Ear artists and spliced them together. It blends together elements of jazz and hip hop and dub."
So what's all this talk about Rhythm Science then? Paul's new book explores the art of the DJ and more specifically how the DJ arranges elements of music in order to create something new. Spooky explains that "... the book takes in the perspective of the DJ as an artist and shows how technology (turntables, mixers and computers) can be used to express new ideas that are infinitely variable" The book itself not only confronts the idea of DJ's and music but also applies philosophies behind DJing to everyday life - ideologies behind mixing, layering and beat come to mind as he discusses thought provoking topics and delves into autobiographical material based on him growing up in Washington D.C. Not content with just writing a book, Spooky also produced an accompanying CD for the book which ties together the topics he's described in the book.
OK so we've covered his music and we've also covered his written work, well what about his concept art? Glad you asked. On top of his earlier work which can be found on his website, Paul's just finished a "remix" of D.W. Griffith's 1912 film, "Birth Of A Nation" a film which Spooky explains is "... still considered an American 'cinema classic' despite it's largely rascist content. It was used as a recruiting device for the Ku Klux Klan until the mid 1960's." Spooky's remix is cheekily entitled "Rebirth Of A Nation", where he takes portions of the film and cuts and pastes them together to "create a counter narrative of the film". He's put together a live show for the film, "I've basically taken the film and put it onto 2 DVD discs. When I'm doing the show, it'll be me a one-man-show standing behind two turntables designed to play DVD's and I'll be VJing the images from the original film, remixing and splicing them together to create an alternate story."
After all this does he have time for much else? Well apart from working on new albums, pulling off remixes to other people's work, (note: this doesn't just involve music but also visual effects) touring the globe, producing works of art and writing essays, he still manages to run 21C magazine - a magazine who's main focus is to expand intellectual boundaries, challenge modern thinking and at the same time provide stunning visual displays. Speaking to the man is like having a conversation with a quantum physicist, sci-fi film maker, philosopher and DJ and at the same time getting lost in the conversation as they speak from a glossary that is far beyond my reach. Did I feel stupid? yer... Did it make me want to go out and see his show? YEAH!!!!!