She was born on a now largely abandoned island in the middle of the Bering Sea. Which makes it even more impressive how Diane Miller bridges different musical genres and job titles these days near the center of North America.
Between her more than a decade involvement in the Fargo music community and now three years in Minneapolis, Miller has worked as a club booker, journalist, radio host and musician.
In the latter category, she also takes on many different roles: rapper, singer, songwriter, and guitarist — all talents brilliantly and cheekily displayed on her hip-hop-laden new EP, “Earth to Diane.”
“I feel like I’ve blossomed more juggling a lot of different things,” said the busy bee, who performs at 7th St. Entry on Saturday under her solo moniker, Diane.
Miller, 35, was the talent buyer at Icehouse for nearly three years, fostering an eclectic and experimental mix that made the south Minneapolis supper club a staple music venue. Then last fall, she was announced as the new host of 89.3 the Current’s weekly “Local Show.”
In all of her roles, she has shown a knack for giving exposure to women and minority talent while enjoying a wide range of musical styles. All of this apparently comes easily to him.
“I’ve been exposed to many different parts of the Minnesota music scene and know people from it, from hip-hop to bluegrass to jazz,” she said, also pointing out “the musicians who have been underrepresented in the past.”
“And I don’t just get to know and work with all these people and different styles of music,” she added, “I to like all too.”
Miller certainly casts a wide net in his own musical ventures. She fronted the Fargo-raised hip-hop group D Mills & the Thrills, while also performing as a folk singer/songwriter and occasionally playing guitar with classic-style rock band Twin Cities Kiss the Tiger.
Her new EP shows her talent for skipping genres and connecting with others.
Each track in the six-song collection was produced by different musicians who cross borders, including Martin Dosh, MAKR, drummer Greg Schutte and fellow local star Haley – who quickly became a fan watching Diane perform live a evening at Icehouse.
“Her spirit is so bright and bubbly and alive, I instantly loved her,” Haley (McCollum) shared, remembering in particular hearing “Out of Order” that night, the song she ended up producing.
“It reminded me of Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, Da Brat. I was like, I need to hear this song again immediately.”
“Can you hear me making the crowd scream? Miller spits in “Out of Order,” offering proof that she did in fact perform a Rage Against the Machine tribute on the occasion.
“What’s proud is that my doubt fell / As I skipped town / Out, untrapped, inverted, relapsed / No curse, just applause, and Pabst and stop and start again.”
Other tracks on “Earth to Diane” include the ethereal, lyrical freestyler “Sometimes” (the Dosh collaboration), the sexually laced love song “DTGHAF” (produced by Just Pete) and the funky, hopeful, Chance the Rapper-esque closer to “What’s Ignored.”
She called the latter song a tribute to “feeling left out and excluded as a child and lacking the confidence to be myself”.
“I only fully blossomed when I accepted who I am.”
From afar and from Fargo
Miller was born on the remote island of Adak in Alaska, the second daughter of a US Navy sailor serving in the westernmost military complex on US soil (now decommissioned). His father Mark met his mother Emy while serving in the Philippines and they returned to his native Midwest once he was discharged from service.
She heard about her birthplace when she traveled to Alaska in October, working as an artist-in-residence at Homer on a McKnight Fellowship.
“Before I even left the airport, I heard people talking about Adak,” she said. “It’s a bit legendary up there.”
She spent part of her youth in Alexandria, Minnesota before moving to Fargo in the seventh grade. After graduating from Fargo South High School, she began to become a singer/songwriter, then a rapper in her early twenties.
While applauding Fargo’s music scene, Miller said the city as a whole “is pretty conservative.
“It’s not a place where you always feel comfortable being a person of color and dressing gender neutral. I think that’s one of the reasons why the music has become such a beautiful outlet for me.”
It’s also one of the reasons Miller didn’t come out as a lesbian until her late twenties. “I was locked up for a long time, to the point where I even got engaged to a man,” she said. “It caused a lot of angst. But when I finally came out, it was like, ‘Where have I been all my life?!'”
In a happy relationship now – “DTGHAF”, which means “Damn this girl is as hot as [bleep]”, talks about her partner Jet – Miller said she feels more comfortable with her identity living in Minneapolis. And that’s just one of the many reasons she’s happy living here.
“I feel like I owe my service to this town now,” she said, noting that she got that trait from her mother (who’s been known to sing along with her daughter on occasion). “She’s always happy to do things for other people.”
Spinning two hours of songs by other Minnesotans on the stream every Sunday from 6-8 p.m. certainly serves a good purpose. So far, Miller says the new job is “as nice as I know it would be.”
“Whether I’m booking bands or playing them on the radio, it’s about enjoying the music — which is what I definitely think I’m good at,” she said.
And it’s easy to see why she’s good at it.
“Music brought out so much in me that I probably never would have been able to release otherwise,” she said. “It helped me go from a shy, rejected kid to someone who’s confident to get on stage, confident to try different things, confident about who I am.”
With: Crescent Moon + Big Trouble, MAKR.
When: 9 p.m. Sat.
Or: 7th St. Entrance, 701 1st Av. N., Deputies.
Tickets: $12 to $15, first-avenue.com
Fargo Exit Show: March 19, The Hall at Fargo Brewing, 610 University Dr. N., thehallfargo.com