She was born on a now mostly abandoned island in the middle of the Bering Sea. Which makes it even more impressive the way Diane Miller bridges different music genres and job titles these days near the center of North America.
Between her decade-plus involvement in Fargo's 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 brightly and brazenly displayed on her new hip-hop-heavy EP, "Earth to 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 vital 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 talents while appreciating a wide range of musical styles. That all apparently comes easily to her.
"I've been exposed to a lot of different parts of the Minnesota music scene and know people in them, from hip-hop to bluegrass to jazz to whatever," she said, also singling out "musicians that have been under-represented in the past."
"And I don't just know and work with all these people and different styles of music," she added, "I love all of them, too."
Miller certainly casts a broad net in her own music-making ventures. She has fronted the hard-thumping, Fargo-reared hip-hop group D Mills & the Thrills while also performing as a folky singer/songwriter and occasionally working with classic-styled Twin Cities rock band Kiss the Tiger.
Her new EP shows off her knack for jumping genres and connecting with others.
Each track on the six-song collection was produced by different boundary-crossing musicians, including Martin Dosh, MAKR, drummer Greg Schutte and fellow one-name local star Haley — who fast became a fan watching Diane perform live one night at Icehouse.
"Her spirit is so bright and bubbly and alive, I immediately adored her," Haley (McCallum) recounted, specifically remembering hearing "Out of Order" that night, the song she wound 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."
"What's proud is that my doubt's down / While I'm skipping town / Out, untrapped, reverse, relapsed / No curse, just claps, and Pabst and stops and starts."
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 and hopeful, Chance the Rapper-esque closer "What Gets Ignored."
She called the latter song a tribute to "feeling outcast and left out as kid and lacking the confidence to be myself."
"I didn't fully flourish until I accepted who I am."
From far away and Fargo
Miller was born on Alaska's remote Adak Island, the second daughter of a U.S. Navy sailor serving at was then the westernmost military complex on U.S. soil (now decommissioned). Her dad Mark met her mom Emy while serving in the Philippines and they returned to his native Midwest once he was out of the service.
She heard all about her birthplace when she traveled to Alaska in October, working as an artist in residence in Homer as part of a McKnight Fellowship.
"Even before I left the airport, I overheard people talking about Adak," she said. "It's kind of legendary up there."
She spent part of her youth in Alexandria, Minn., before moving to Fargo in seventh grade. After graduating from Fargo South High School, she started stepping out as a singer/songwriter and then as a rapper in her early 20s.
While she applauds Fargo's music scene, Miller said the city overall "was pretty conservative.
"Not a place where you always feel comfortable being a person of color and dressing in a sort of gender-neutral way. I think that's one reason music became such a beautiful outlet for me."
It's also one reason Miller did not come out as a lesbian until her late 20s. "I was closeted for a long time, to the point where I was even engaged to a man," she said. "That led to a lot of angst. But then when I did finally come out, it was like, 'Where have I been all my life?!'"
In a happy relationship now — "DTGHAF," which stands for "Damn that girl is hot as [bleep]," is about her partner Jet — Miller said she feels more comfortable about her identity living in Minneapolis. And that's just one of many reasons she's glad to be living here.
"I feel like I owe my service to this city now," she said, noting she gets that trait from her mom (who's been known to sing with her daughter on occasion). "She's always happy about doing things for others."
Spinning two hours' worth of other Minnesotans' songs on the Current every Sunday from 6-8 p.m. certainly serves a good purpose. So far, Miller said the new job is "as enjoyable as I knew it'd be."
"Whether I'm booking bands or playing them on the radio, it's about being an appreciator of music — which I certainly think I'm good at," she said.
And it's easy to see why she's good at it.
"Music has brought out so much in me that probably never would've come out otherwise," she said. "It helped me go from a shy, outcast 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.
Where: 7th St. Entry, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Tickets: $12-$15, first-avenue.com
Fargo release show: March 19, The Hall at Fargo Brewing, 610 University Dr. N., thehallfargo.com