Being able to support your family by doing what you love is the dream—and for longtime Woodbury resident David Miller, known to Twin Cities electric dance music fans as DJ D-Mil, that dream has come true.
Growing up on the east side of St. Paul, Miller was inspired by his six-years-older brother Jim, a break dancer with the local street group Wild Style in the 1980s. Jim exposed Miller to music by hip-hop pioneers Run DMC, the Fat Boys and others. In the early 1990s, Jim died by a car accident, but Miller kept his memory alive by fulfilling his brother’s passion: music.
Growing up, between his mother and brother’s record collection, Miller says, “We had a lot of music in the house. In 1996, when I started DJ’ing at parties, I had a really good vinyl collection.” He increased the collection with weekly trips to record stores to buy newer music. His first paying gig as a DJ was at a nightclub near the University of Minnesota campus, at age 19.
Miller started getting his friends to show up to gigs and gradually built his following from there. Plus his ability to read a crowd and give them what they want helped him gain traction. Eventually, radio gigs helped him go further and he gained a regular spot on KDWB, Beat 96 and, currently, Go 95.3.
Over 25 years, Miller has used two Technics 1200 turntables, a Pioneer mixer and a MacBook Pro laptop. At the beginning, he would haul as many as a dozen crates of records to local gigs, but today he sources all of his music digitally. The music is transmitted to the two turntables, allowing him to do the scratching, blending and other essential “tricks” of a DJ’s repertoire.
Miller says he knows what a crowd enjoys by being in diverse environments. “I can walk into any room, read the room and get the dance floor poppin',” he says. He also DJs for weddings, corporate functions and other private events. He mainly focuses on funk and hip-hop, but also mixes in rock, R&B and reggae.
In recent years, he’s scored by networking and landing opening spots for major touring acts including 2 Live Crew, Snoop Dogg, Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Twista, Khalid and Talib Kweli. He’s done spring break tours in Mexico and has sold out shows at the legendary Bora Bora beach club in Mexico, as well as shows in the U.S. and Canada.
Miller and his wife Kelly, plus their three kids, K, Max and London, have lived in Woodbury for 17 years. But looking to the future, Miller says, “[I want to] continue to showcase the art of DJ’ing, on radio and in clubs, presenting DJ’ing at the highest level.”