the dose. music. lifestyle. technology. cyberpunk.
Celldweller

date: 2007-04
interview by Damage


CELLDWELLER aka Klayton has the focusing skills of a Zen monk and the musical creativity of master scorewriters who're high on the world's vibes. He also produces music you want to listen to in the dojo while you're kicking ass. He's also the guy whose music you obviously know, even if you believe you don't, he's been licensed to so many movies. And he's just about to return with a new album.





THE DOSE: Hey there Klayton! For all our readers who're not yet familiar with the name of your project Celldweller, could you please give us a little but detailed rundown on your musical history?

CelldwellerKLAYTON: Started on the drums as a kid. Never been a really social guy, so I would gladly spend most of my time consumed in rehearsing and absorbing musical knowledge. I eventually became frustrated by the inability to get the sounds in my head out. That's hard to do with only a drumset as an instrument, so from there I moved on to any other instrument I could get my hands on and bastardize. Never had any formal training, just lots of determination and no friends ? for some odd reason, that always kept me focused. Go figure. I played in a few bands, but after discovering my first sequencer said "Bye bye!" to the whole band idea and locked myself in my cellar studio and started making my own noise on my own terms. The most exciting time of my life ? it was so much more fun than getting my ass kicked in school.

I was involved in a few projects, but I put all of that to rest when I started Celldweller. I wanted to focus on one thing, and that was going to be it for me.

THE DOSE: Your tracks have been picked for lots of soundtracks, both movie- and game-related, yet you claim you're not following where your tracks appear. Is there any movie, though, that you'd compose a score (or even one track) to? And what would your choice be, score or a track?

KLAYTON: Well by nature, I'm not very hypeoriented. So when a track lands in a movie or video game, I'm glad because I'll be able to pay the mortgage next month, not because I think I'm hot shit now that I'm in a movie. In fact, I don't think I've seen one video game that I've ever been in ? I don't even own a gaming system. Bad, bad me? I do have to admit that there are times when it's cool. I remember taking a girl to a movie and they happened to play the Spiderman 2 trailer before the main feature. The look of shock when she heard "Switchback" was priceless ? I got to be a stud for 15 seconds.

I am certainly interested in scoring to film and am heading in that direction at the moment. As for which movie, it's hard to say. I would love to be part of something that I'm genuinely into, but you don't always have that option. I'm hoping to get a shot at scoring "The Passion of the Christ 2."

THE DOSE: As far as I know, you currently live and work in Detroit. There's this documentary about techno music entitled "High Tech Soul" that features all the Detroit techno/minimal gods depicting a city that's beautiful in the urban sense of the word but desolate and alienated at the same time. What do you think of Detroit? Why did you move there? What's your opinion on the Detroit techno scene?

CelldwellerKLAYTON: Part of the reason I moved to Detroit from New York was because it was the birthplace of certain styles of techno. Unfortunately, by the time I had moved here, the scene had kinda died out. Just my luck. Detroit is a bit desolate in comparison to what I grew up around in New York, but has it's own vibe. I think I was optimistic about the techno scene opening musical possibilities for me, but it didn't totally pan out the way I had imagined. Truthfully, I just needed to get out of New York in general, so I moved to Detroit more to be closer to a few friends and figured the rest would work itself out. So far, so good...

THE DOSE: According to you, you're more inspired by art, literature and fashion than by music. What were those objects/products of art, literature and fashion that made an impression on you or even influenced you lately?

KLAYTON: Japan. Anytime I would see things growing up that I thought were "cool", there was some tie-in to Japan. Godzilla was my childhood mentor, for instance. I could relate to him and if I could just BE him for one day, I could incinerate every kid who kicked my ass in school on a daily basis. I remember seeing Akira for the first time in a small theater in New York. I was blown away. The Japanese sense of fashion would play into my look later on in my career, although I didn't even realize it was all these things were culturally interconnected at the time.

I am also a big proponent of technology, and when I discovered a computer could do more than run my music software, I very naturally moved into digital art. I can't draw to save my wretched soul, but could manipulate images to death on my Mac. Art took a whole other course in my life from there. I continue to be inspired by imagery generated or manipulated by technology, but can appreciate traditional art as well.

I spent much of my childhood alone, and found my friends in books, detailing fictional stories I could relate to and characters I wish I could be. I don't have as much time to read anymore and it is the one thing I lament. A great book can inspire and educate, and these things ultimately flow back into my art.

THE DOSE: And what about musical influences? What are you listening to nowadays?

KLAYTON: As far as influence, most of my influence is from the music I grew up on ? Metal, New Wave, Alternative. Later, I would discover Goa/Psy Trance, Drum and Bass and Techno and more blatantly European sounds ? that was the beginning of my musical irrelevance in the US.

Current artists that I think are inspiring? IAMX, The Knife, Pendulum, Refused, Hybrid...

THE DOSE: Earlier you mentioned Astral Projection and Tech' Itch as projects you like. Did you come across other psy/goatrance and d'n'b projects that you prefer?

CelldwellerKLAYTON: Absolutely. I went through a phase where it was mostly Psytrance and DnB ? to hell with rock. Cosmosis, MFG, Man With No Name to the early Goldie, Grooverider stuff and Dieselboy, Chris Su, Concord Dawn etc. So much more diverse and challenging than the typical rock crap pimped over the radio airwaves, IMHO.

THE DOSE: You recently had your remix contest from "Own Little World". What were the best moments of that, how did applicants treat your music?

KLAYTON: The contest is really only just beginning. Own Little World is only the first of 4 or 5 more rounds to come, so the contest itself will last over a year. I'm thinking the best moments are yet to be heard and seen. We've gotten some pretty cool remixes in and great new talent represented. Lots of people willing to "take it and break it." Anyone is invited to check out http://remix.celldweller.com and download the files to create a remix, or just comment and vote on the remixer's tracks. Round 2 has just launched, with the track "Frozen" up for remixing and destructing.

THE DOSE: After seeing how much of a perfectionist you are, it actually looks like a huge sacrifice to let people do whatever they want to the wave files.

KLAYTON: I did this already in 2001 with "Symbiont", so I have slowly gotten over the natural inclination I would have to not show raw tracks to the world. When I hear how others can take my art and turn it into another piece of art based on their interpretation of it, it makes it easier for me to just throw it out there and not worry about consequence. It's taken years to get to that point, but here I am still alive. Surprisingly, being a little more open with that kind of stuff hasn't killed me... yet.

THE DOSE: The Klayton Revision version of Switchback appears amongst the Flash Flash Revolution (a DDR clone) songs. How did the idea come to release your songs to the masses via FFR?

KLAYTON: FFR has been using my tracks for years. I've seen lots of new fans come through that site, so management arranged for my remix of "Switchback" to be featured on the site. I'm all for creating the soundtrack that people can kick ass to.

THE DOSE: How much of a gaming person are you, and if you are, what games do you spend time with?

CelldwellerKLAYTON: It would stand to reason that I would be a big gamer, but I've had to exercise restraint. I knew if I let myself play games, I would waste hours, days ? weeks just playing. So early on in my career, I made a very conscientious decision - I wouldn't allow myself to get into gaming so I could focus more on creating. I still play a mean game of Pac Man though.

THE DOSE: Seeing how you choose various outlets for your ideas, do you have plans for releasing PC or console games?

KLAYTON: Not at the moment. Sounds like a good idea though - Let's get started on making one.

THE DOSE: Your latest release is the four-track Remix EP that features Switchback (Klayton Revision) and Own Little World (Remorse Code remix), these tracks being more electronic, gapped/twisted and breakish than the original versions. What's the story behind these tracks?

KLAYTON: My Switchback remix has been a few years in the making. Started it and just left it. I would come back to it and work on it a bit and leave it. I finally decided to finish it. Around the same time, Remorse Code had approached me about doing an Official Celldweller remix. Own Little World made sense, so Bret and Thomas tore it apart and the rest is history.

THE DOSE: I guess it's time to ask you about the sophomore Celldweller CD. What production phase are you in now, what specific details would you now leak out to the fans and, most importantly, when can we expect it to be released?

KLAYTON: I am technically still in pre production for the sophomore release. I think I've been in pre production for close to 100 years, or at least it feels that way to me. I'm getting down the last phases ? finalizing lyrics and cleaning up all the little parts I've been wishing I didn't have to deal with. Guess it's time to deal with it. The only thing I can say about this disc so far is that it's even worse than my last one.

Well, I'm sure someone will eventually agree with that statement, so I might as well make it now so they won't be disappointed. As far as I'm concerned, I'm breaking new ground with this release. My first disc has songs that were written 7 years ago. I'm in a different place creatively and in my life in general. Naturally this CD will reflect that. I even have a duet with Britney Spears on this disc "Shave me baby, one more time." She is a brilliant artist and I can't wait for the world to hear this track.

THE DOSE: You said earlier that the things that completely changed your life was a Skinny Puppy record. Do you remember which one? Are there any other music- or album-related lifechanging experiences you'd share with us?

CelldwellerKLAYTON: I don't ever remember saying that. I do remember saying that a Skinny Puppy show had opened my eyes to a whole new world. Too Dark Park tour was mindblowing to me at the time and reflected ideas I had in my head for years for my own stuff, but didn't have the knowledge or resources to pull off. There are many musical moments in my life that were lifechanging, but for the most part those are between me, myself and I. The bottom line is that I learned at an early age the power of music. It's not something I take lightly and am grateful to God daily that I still have all my fingers and my hearing - I was never really any good at washing dishes or delivering papers.

THE DOSE: You have quite a bad opinion on today's music business and labels. What do you think, is there a way out of the current business model (financial/promotional) and if so, what's your vision of it?

KLAYTON: I don't know that I have a bad opinion. I just have an opinion, but I recognize that opinions are like assholes ? everyone's got one and they all stink. As far as labels, I've kinda been there & done that so I know what a label could be good for and also what they aren't good for. The game has changed so much that it's completely irrelevant anyway. I am very fortunate that I never signed a big record deal (that actually stuck, at least.) I am independent and with relative success ? 2 things not often found in the same sentence in the music industry. This goes to show you that it can be done. I was too dumb to quit and it's paid off. Had I not persisted, it would have been back to washing dishes and delivering papers and we already know that was no fun.

Here's the scoop boys and girls ? take control. Promote yourself, invest in yourself, write, write, write. You have the internet ? use it. Give your music away ? just get people to your shows and get them to buy a tee shirt, which is not so easily pirated. Network - Myspace is a veritable treasure chest of talent if you can find it amongst the millions. Find the right people to attach yourself to and you never know what that outcome will be.

THE DOSE: Please elaborate on your FIXTmusic and LVL production projects! What are your short- and long-term plans with them?

KLAYTON: FIXT Music is my label. LVL was the first artist signed to the label and now we've also got Subkulture. We will be releasing material from both of these artists this year. More details and tunes can be found on the Official FIXT Site. ( Http://fixtmusic.com )

Another whole angle with FIXT Music outside of the artist thing, is finding other artists who want to make money writing music and who also want to hear their tracks in Film/TV/Video Games. We're always scouting for artists with a good production sense and the ability to deliver finished tracks for us to take to the rest of the world. Power to the people ? we're not a major or even minor label, yet the artists we choose are making money doing what they love to do. Hooray for capitalism and the entertainment industry.

THE DOSE: What you do you do mostly alone. Lots of artists and teenager may adore or outright envy your capability do act so independently. If you could spread words of wisdom on how to set off on that path and how to stay on it, what would you say?

KLAYTON: Masturbate. Other than that, I watch an occasional movie but even during that, I'm working by analyzing the sound and cinematography. Fun, fun, fun. As far as being envied, that's pretty flattering. I don't remember being envied too often as a kid, when I was laying in a pool of my own snot and blood after a nice playground ass-kickin'.

In good conscience, I can only give advice based on my own experiences. I've worked my ass off and sacrificed much to do what I do. If you can't handle that or are even remotely half assed about pursuing your dream, take a course in dish washing or paper delivery. Unless daddy or mommy are going to use their clout and $ to buy you a successful career, then you're stuck with the rest of us. You have to work for it BUT if you do, and persist you can accomplish. Now, who wants to book me as the motivational speaker for their next dental convention? Anyone? Anyone?

THE DOSE: What's your opinion on cyberpunk as the cultural mashup and cyber genre?

KLAYTON: Mad Max, Blade Runner, Escape from New York - movies that have influenced me in a number of ways. I wanted to be Snake Plisken. I wanted to be Deckard. I ended up just some dude with red hair, but not without some piece of that futuristic vision still intact. I've never really subscribed to any genre, musically, fashion or otherwise. The whole concept of the Cyberpunk lifestyle was so appealing to me and I have always related.
THE CHAIRLEG OF TRUTH

Did you know that every single track off the debut Celldweller album have been licensed for the film/TV/video game industry?

Credits include:
The Hills Have Eyes 2
CSI (Superbowl Spot)
Superman Returns
Silent Hill
Doom
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Supercross
XXX: State of the Union
Spider-man 2
Constantine
Catwoman
Redline
The Punisher
Dirt
Friday Night Lights
Paycheck
Timeline
Mindhunters
National Security
Bad Boys 2
Crackdown
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Project Gotham Racing 3
Enter the Matrix
XGRA