[AltWire Interview] Klayton of Celldweller


If you’re the kind of person who enjoys electronic rock, industrial metal, or perhaps are simply an avid gaming fan, then the chances are you’ve heard Klayton’s music in the past.

From the widely successful Celldweller project to the recently resurrected 90s industrial effort Circle of Dust, Klayton’s ever-growing foray into new styles musically has shown the Detroit artist/producer to be fantastically versatile. And, having built the FiXT label from scratch along the way, proven himself to be one of the hardest working individuals in the industry.

Indeed, alongside endlessly producing and releasing new material, working with other artists, and tending to the duties of FiXT, Klayton’s “all or nothing” approach to his craft has resulted in building a hugely dedicated following, not only for his own music but for all of the FiXT family.

With such little time to spare, we’re very happy to have had the chance to chat with Klayton, who kindly spent some time discussing his music with us, and what may be next in line for his many projects. Read more below!

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Hi Klayton, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! To kick things off, for those perhaps not yet familiar with your extensive career, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers and telling us a little about the many projects/monikers you’ve come to embrace musically?

Klayton: Thanks for having me! My 4 main musical outlets are Celldweller (electronic-rock) Scandroid (80s new wave, synth wave) Circle of Dust (industrial-metal) & FreqGen (analog, modular). I mostly do my film and game score work, production videos, sample packs and software instruments, etc. all under the banner of Celldweller.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Considering the amount of diversity between what eventually becomes a FreqGen or Scandroid track, compared to a Circle of Dust or Celldweller track, how do you decide on what you want to write for next with so much to choose from?

Klayton: Generally it’s whatever mood I happen to be in at the moment. Sometimes I want to jump into my synth room and work on old analog synthesizers and end up with a Scandroid track. Sometimes I want the energy at 11 so I write some riffs slathered in noise and programming and I end up with a Circle of Dust track.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Throughout the years you’ve been known for an incredibly meticulous approach to your writing, the most infamous probably being the long wait between the debut Celldweller record and Wish Upon a Blackstar. How would you say you remain so disciplined throughout your many endeavors musically?

Klayton: It’s simple – I love my job. It doesn’t require much poking and prodding for me to work on music. I generally forfeit social events, tv, and live entertainment if it buys me more time in my studio. I don’t write simple music so my production takes a long time so it works out perfectly that I love spending my time “working”.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: The fourth Celldweller vocal album, Offworld, definitely saw a rather drastic change compared to the more well-known electronic rock/metal Celldweller sound – did you find that this particular style throughout the album resulted in needing to rethink your approach at all?

Klayton: Offworld was just the sound I was inspired to make. It wasn’t the big electronic–rock epic some were expecting, but nonetheless it still fits under the banner of Celldweller. I did keep specific boundaries on the album to make sure the sound was cohesive, but all in all, I just did whatever I wanted, which has always been my approach to music-making.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: On the flip side, your latest teasing for new Celldweller material seems to be indicating something of a return to the style explored throughout End of an Empire. Would you mind offering a sneak peek into how the next Celldweller chapter compares to previous releases?   

Klayton: I’m not sure yet! As far as I’m concerned, I’m not “back” – I never left. I’m still here doing what I do. I can tell you that I’m in a much heavier mood and the first few tracks I already have in the works for the new Celldweller album will be pretty heavy. I imagine the album as a whole will follow suit.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Also on the subject of new music, from Dreams in Monochrome to the upcoming alt_Machines, FiXT seems rather busy these days with remix albums! How would you say you personally approach having each album remixed? Is there a certain frame of mind when considering how the remixed material may compare to the original release stylistically?

Klayton: What I love about remixes is hearing how another artist reinterprets what I originally created. It’s additionally cool to have artists I like and respect putting their spin on my original ideas. The added benefit is the cross-promotion between our relative fanbases.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: While no stranger to covering songs throughout the years, your latest collaboration with Tom Salta, on the iconic ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, certainly stands as one of the most interesting! Would you mind talking a little about how this cover came to be?

Klayton: I had been discussing with my publishing partner about this idea of covering a classical track and modernizing it. I knew I wanted to bring someone who had strengths where I lacked and vice versa. The same time I was planning this, I was also in the middle of scoring Season 3 of Microsoft’s Killer Instinct video game with Tom. I love working with Tom and we’ve got our workflow down. It only took a split second for the obvious answer to my question to be sitting right in front of me… literally. I asked Tom if he would be down and the rest is history.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Having had the chance to work and collaborate with so many amazing artists throughout the years, are there any ‘wish list’ artists that you would especially love to collaborate with in the future?   

Klayton: The Cure, Depeche Mode & Slayer. Bonus if I can get them all on the same track.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: You’ve mentioned in the past your love for all things 80s and cyberpunk, from Duran Duran and Tears For Fears, to Blade Runner and Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon. On the flipside, have there been any more recent films/shows that have particularly inspired you? Perhaps the Altered Carbon Netflix series?

Klayton: I really enjoyed the Altered Carbon Netflix show but the deviations from the book had me wishing it was more true to the books. A more intensified version of that would be the Expanse by James S. A. Corey. I LOVE the books and saw the characters and that world so clearly but SyFy’s TV adaptation totally didn’t do it for me. The characters fell flat (for me) and liberties in the storyline (even though the 2 writers of the book were involved) left me kinda checking out of the TV show. I’ve been more excited about season 3 of Better Call Saul.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: I’m sure you’re still getting asked this all the time, but any chance we may be seeing some live Celldweller shows later down the line? Maybe even a show or two under Scandroid or Circle of Dust?

Klayton: With an imminent move on the horizon and 8-week-old twins, life is so crazy. A tour

won’t be happening anytime soon, if ever.

[Editorial Note: A massive congratulations from all of us at AltWire for the recent welcoming of Phoenix and Jericho into the world!]

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: From your earliest beginnings musically, the establishment of Celldweller, to eventually starting FiXT and beyond, it’s been clear that yours is a story of success only through constant perseverance and determination. With your own personal journey in mind, what would you say to those out there struggling to get into the music industry?

Klayton: You’ve already said it perfectly in one word – perseverance! I knew that all I wanted to do was make music and was willing to suffer and starve for that chance. I did a fair amount of both but I was too stubborn or simply too dumb to quit. If you want to “make it” in music and don’t experience discomfort, financial stress, and failure, then you’re doing it wrong. Stick through all of the hardships and it will pay off. You have to want it like your lungs want oxygen.

AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us here at AltWire! On a final note was there anything else you would like to add, either to fans of your music or to our readers? 

Klayton: New Celldweller, Scandroid, Circle of Dust & FreqGen are already in the works for 2018. Hit Klayton.info for all of it in one place!

About the author

M. Stoneman

"If you combine horror movies, rock music and Silent Hill, I'm the result: a British writer who will likely gush over guitar solos and ambient horror game soundtracks.”
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