Filth Friends Unite (Celldweller Remix)
TMN: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing our wonderful June resident artist Celldweller, or as he is known to friends and fans alike, Klayton. Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions, where are you writing to us from today?
K: A place that goes often completely unused – the lounge of my studio. (That would require relaxing and I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet.)
TMN: Let’s start from the beginning, before there was Celldweller, before the red hawked hair, let’s go all the way back to when you were a kid. Many artists talk about their musical upbringings. Did you have any music in your house or were you exposed to any instruments or singing early on in life?
K: Yes and no. Definitely surrounded by music, but not necessarily instruments. My grandfather had a massive collection of vinyl and the highlight of my childhood was when I was able to visit, getting to sit in his “music room” and put on headphones and listen to anything from classical to disco to the progressive electronic music of the 70’s & 80’s.
K: Hard to say. I wasn’t permitted to listen to the radio due to my parents trying to protect me from the evil messages of modern lyricists, but I did remember sneaking in some early Billy Joel, Queen & eventually Judas Priest’s “Screaming for Vengeance” vinyl which I had to hide outside in my shed so I didn’t get in trouble. (Just for the record, I love my folks and they did an awesome job raising me, although they still can’t figure out why I have a red Mohawk. I blame Judas Priest.)
TMN: Who was your musical idol as a kid?
K: If I had to go back to when I was discovering the music that I was initially trying to emulate in my teen band days, as generic as it sounds, it was Metallica. I was a drummer first, so Lars was the man.
TMN: And as you continued in life, when did the opportunity present itself to you to really take on the role of musician? As we both know in the music industry you have to work for what you want and when you decided to become Celldweller, you worked very hard to maintain your name and your music. Can you tell us more about that experience?
K: To be honest, the concept of actually making a living making music was completely unrealistic to me. I didn’t see how it could ever be possible so I headed down the only other path I thought I would interest me – becoming a doctor. I was pre-med for a few years but continued to make music at every possible turn. During my time in college I had gotten a demo of some of my tracks to some friends that were signed to a New York-based label. Incredibly and from out of the blue the label contacted me and said they wanted to sign me immediately. I found out much later they only signed me because they wanted to be one of the first labels in the area to sign an “industrial” artist. So I can’t even say I got my start music because what I was creating was so incredible, but maybe more because I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It sounds kind of sad, but I didn’t care. All I needed was the opportunity and I would work my ass off from there.
I dropped out of school “temporarily” to see if I could make the music thing happen, and spent the next decade and beyond as a starving artist. I had this opportunity in front of me but the label only did a limited amount. The bulk of the work was fully on my shoulders and I was more than happy to take all of that weight and more. I just wanted to do what was in my heart, and that didn’t really include being around people all day long, as a doctor.
TMN: Now let’s fast-forward to about ten years ago, that is when you produced your first album (congrats on the decade release by the way that is huge!). What was that experience like for you, putting all your hard work into an incredible production and getting it out into the world?
K: Thank you ☺ Well, I never saw it as incredible production. In fact I pretty much expected nobody would even listen to it. My sole motivation was to exorcise personal demons and try to satiate this constant drive for self-betterment. I feel the need to always be doing something better than I’ve done, something different. Those were some of the hardest years because I was literally to the point in life that once this album was done, I had no backup plan to make ends meet. I would have gotten through it even if it nobody listened, but I’ve spent many, many years very close to the precipice of failure. Ultimate failure by my definition would have been having to go back to school or get a day job. That wasn’t an option, so I did what I had to. Ate less food, slept on more couches and worked during every possible waking second I had available to me.
TMN: Present day, you are a renowned artist, respected for all your many talents besides just producing, and you have your own production company FiXT. I know it is a lot of artist’s dream to have their own label, to be able to sign upcoming artists and what not. Tell us about your decision to make this label and what your goal is for the future of FiXT?
K: Essentially I built my artists career doing a very turbulent and unpredictable time in musical history. The advent of the MP3 and consequently the death of compact discs and the standard album as a whole, was shaking up the industry. If you had asked me 12 years ago, I could’ve told you the many stories of how I failed to land a major record deal. How many different record exec offices I’ve sat in and had to give some kind of song and dance to, the showcases I’ve done and how many people around me that basically told me to “give it up and get a job.” At the time it was obviously very discouraging, but the reason FiXT exists is because of these things. I had no help from anyone, no handouts, and no charitable contributions. If I wanted anything done in my career it was on me to do it. In fact, I haven’t widely publicized this but for the first three or four years of me doing Celldweller, I personally processed and shipped all of my own merchandise orders. In order for me to survive I had to figure out systems. I needed to figure out how to make merchandise. I needed to know how to record, manufacture and distribute my music. I needed to know how to let the rest the world know that I existed. These are all things that took me years and many failures along the way to come out the other side with bigger successes, in spite of whatever the naysayers had to say.
From there, the thought spawned in my head one day while taking a leak – “I should create a label and sign my brother.” My brother, Level is a super talented musician but didn’t know how to get his music to the world. He just focused on making it. I thought, “I could just plug him into all the same systems I’ve built for myself.” And there was the impetus for FiXT. Now years later, we’re a formidable online retail store (http://fixtstore.com) a publicity company, a record label as well as artist merchandise and film/tv/video game music licensing company. All this and I still feel like we’ve only just begun. There is LOTS more to do.
K: Exactly what I’ve already said – PERSIST! The only reason I’m here today is because I was too dumb or stubborn to quit the many times that I was told to or circumstance probably suggested. Today more than ever, you’re not going to get a “major record deal.’ WTF even is a major record deal anyway? Hard work, determination and a little bit of skill will get you all the way.
TMN: What are some goals that you have set for yourself in the next year?
K: Finish a new Celldweller album.
Finish my “Blackstar” novel, being written as we speak by Josh Viola (http://facebook.com/blackstarnovel)
Finish the score I’m currently working on to the “Blackstar” novel
Finish and release my first Sample library for producers & remixers
Finish 2 of the music videos that are in the works from “Wish Upon a Blackstar”
Get at least 1 module released from my musical hardware company
Get a few more tracks done towards “Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head Vol 03” (the first 4 songs are done and release in mid July.)
Introduce a new musical project that is currently in the works.
There’s more I’m sure, but that’s a least a good list to get started with.
K: I’ve had a plastic mold made of my hair, so I basically just put on my hair-helmet everyday and it looks pretty sweet. Have to be careful though, because it melts in the sun if I’m outside too long. Well, that and a good hairdresser kinda helps too ☺
TMN: Now let’s move onto some fun questions because we all like to smile and laugh. Name three things that you always carry on your person?
K: Phone, socks (usually on my feet) and a sense of humor (Always good to have in the event that someone steals your socks.)
TMN: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for a day, who would it be and why?
K: John Doe. Because I’d love to be completely anonymous for a day.
TMN: Besides yourself, who has some of the best hair in the music industry?
K: Scott Ian.
K:…because you’re currently gettin’ your ass mugged.[.quote]
TMN: If you were not making music, what would be your dream job?
K: Quality Control taste-tester at Reese’s headquarters.
K: I was having sex with Cher. I mean I was probably 13, so cut me some slack.
TMN: Are you ready for the rapid fire round? Don’t think too much into this just answer whatever comes to your mind first ok?
TMN: Favorite color.
TMN: Ugliest animal.
K: Naked mole rat
TMN: Favorite TV character.
K: Charlie Day
TMN: Embarrassing song you know all the lyrics to.
K: Gimme Gimme Gimme (Abba)
TMN: Fall, Spring, Summer or Winter.
TMN: Finally, out of all the video games you have provided music for, what would be the name of your own personal video game?
K: “Naked Mole Rats 7 – The siege of Reeses HQ”
TMN: Klayton as always thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and answer all our questions. We have loved having you as our resident artist and cannot wait to see what all you have in store for this coming year!
K: It is both a privilege and honor. Thank you guys for the feature and for asking incredibly well informed and challenging questions!