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Interview: Cool Mix with DJ Spooky
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Chimpanzee sexcapades; surfing crocodiles; lazy crows; cologne for cats; more.
DJ Spooky spins sounds of the South Pole.
Writer, musician, and composer Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky, is taking the sights and sounds of Antarctica on a world tour. His creation, Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica, is a 70-minute collage of aural and visual elements that creates a portrait of global warming. During the show, classical musicians play Miller’s original score in front of a video montage of icebergs, scientific charts, and photos of earlier Antarctic expeditions. A headphone-clad Miller stands before a soundboard, mixing in the sounds of ice creaking, penguins chattering, and waves splashing that he recorded during a 2008 trip to Antarctica.
What was the impetus for this project?
I was trying to figure out how to hit the reset button on my imagination. Sometimes you have to go far away to go deep into yourself.
What did you hope to accomplish?
I wanted to capture a scientific process and distill it into something that people could relate to: acoustic portraits of how much the world is changing.
What are the acoustics like in Antarctica?
When you’re walking on the ice, you hear your footsteps crunching and echoing off the sides of the glaciers. There’s this stunning acoustic complexity that goes on just by putting one foot in front of the other.
How did you become interested in the environment?
I went to Bowdoin College in Maine, and one of the things about going to school in New England is that you live in the shadow of these Transcendentalists: Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman. They wanted you to think about the influence that open areas can have on you.
You’ve said many of your peers aren’t thinking about things like climate change. Do you hope to be a bridge to their culture?
I’m hoping. There’s this idea that hip-hop and the city are separate from nature. That’s something I’m fighting against. I’m always arguing that if we manage our relationship better with nature, we’ll have better music, better art, better everything.
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