Interview: Celldweller (2013)

By Simon Alnaimi
By March 1, 2013 May 11th, 2013 Features, Interviews

“I haven’t even begun to make music.” This is what legend of dark electronic music, Klayton of Celldweller, claims throughout his interview. Looking back through his career we see a pattern of success, from remixes for big bands to appearances on countless film and video game soundtracks, yet his attitude is far more modest. The past is no longer relevant, the future is all his mind currently focusses on.

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“I just wanna make music. I want to be in the studio all the time”

At the end of March Celldweller makes a rare live appearance for 2013 in Sheffield for Resistanz Festival, and his enthusiasm shows, “I’m excited just to come to the UK!” He chirps. “I wanted to get over there and play for the longest time and I’m excited to actually be there.” Part of Celldweller’s love for the UK and Europe stems from our affinity for electronic music, compared to his homeland. Talking about the difference between American and European attitudes to EDM, he describes “I went overseas, it’s like the kids are there for the music. Almost everyone is sober and the music is the drug.”

With this in mind, Celldweller plans to bring the energy and unique style that his shows offer, but this time he’s straying away from big, full blown stages. “The show that I’ll be doing in Sheffield is a one man show. I’m now basically doing a mixture of a live performance and a DJ set combined.” The live band formula is something most fans may be used to, but it’s the fans he’s doing it for. “They want good sounding music, and it doesn’t always matter that there’s a full band up there.” This is a dude out to prove how memorable one-man shows can be, drawing on his past. “I remember seeing Aphex Twin in the 90s in new York, and it’s just one dude behind all these keyboards, and I was so blown away.”

Although 2013 has just begun, there’s still so much on for Klayton, who already has an overflowing plate of plans. First is the 10th Anniversary of his debut album, which he is currently preparing a release for. “There will be a lot more content that people have not heard before as well as a collection of a lot of stuff that you can get in one place.”

Half his projects sound cryptic, wrapped in ambiguity and subtle hints. Other releases are more straight-forward, and will definitely get readers excited. “There is going to be a re-issue of the debut self-titled album, and some new tracks and that I think is slated for April or May.”

In terms of how his music is being made, big changes are occurring in his studio. “I’m actually in the process of moving over into a new [digital] environment, it’s a fairly big move but I’ve already started that transition.

“The second biggest thing that has really inspired my direction and some of my focus is not software, but actually hardware. I have been expanding significantly my modular synth set up which is all hardware based. Modular synthesis of all different styles from the extreme and crazy to the very warm and beautiful sounding type stuff.” With a new set-up for the new year, expect Celldweller’s sound to, once again, change the standards of EDM for 2013.

It is clear that there are a lot of projects in the works that Klayton is thrilled with, some he can say, some he can’t. One project he blurted has all the call-signs of a Celldweller classic. “There’s a track called ‘Re:memory’ and it actually ties to something I’ve not been able to announce yet.” At this point it is clear, even his secrets have secrets. Nevertheless, Klay tries to hint more. “I’m super excited about that piece, which is much more modular synth, almost the arpeggiated sounds of the seventies and eighties synthesiser era, that kind of vibe, and there’s a specific reason for that.” Like an episode of Lost, each answer begs for more questions.

One thing we can’t attribute to this man is an official title. Do we call him DJ? Producer? Artist? Entrepreneur? Over the past few years Klayton’s FiXT store has grown to be a huge presence in online retail, and it’s only getting bigger. “We’re still only at the beginning of what is happening, but we’re signing merchandise deals, we signed Bear to a merchandise deal, Nerdrage, BT, artists like that.” And it’s not just shirts they’re helping with. “We’re also doing PR for guys like BT, Static X.” It’s hard to go a few sentences without another huge name in industrial music being mentioned, and even harder to comprehend just how massive the site has become. “We are the world’s biggest EDM merch store, so if you’re looking for any EDM artist’s shirt or product you can find that.”

Although most of his work is still under wraps, a few hints are given to future works. “I’m working on a few completely different ideas, like tools to help producers. And I am expanding upon the ‘Wish Upon A Black Star’ album in a story-sense not even necessarily musically.” We also received hot-off-the-press info: “I’ve been working on a new album which I have not announced yet , as well as music for film and TV.”

One great thing about Celldweller is the diversity he creates with his music, as he explains, “I’ve never really considered myself industrial, I’ve never considered myself drum ‘n’ bass, I’ve never considered myself rock and I’ve never considered myself dubstep, I just consider myself, Celldweller” Although it can appear that Klayton’s attempting to transcend genre, what he’s actually trying to do is keep his sound fresh, new and evolving. “I’m pretty much doing a lot of everything, which allows me to be really flexible, keeps me entertained and, I don’t get bored doing just one thing.” So what kind of new noise can we expect in the future to keep us intrigued and entertained? “I’m taking things in a more sound design-oriented direction, and then also bigger orchestra, bigger guitar riffs, more experimental synths.”

Remixes are a big part of Celldweller’s sound, each one being as individual as his own music and something he treats with due respect, “I don’t treat remixes like some disposable, extra piece of music that I’m gonna cr*p out in a day or two, I treat them with just as much attention as I would if I were building my own track from scratch.”

So what else? With so much to do, you’d think the conversation would run dry. Instead he pours out more and more projects he’s working on. “I’m packaging new music with another new idea based around Celldweller that I can’t wait to offer to the world.

“I’m producing the new Blue Stahli album, we’ve already gone through all of his demos, he’s got ten solid songs and we’re already way onto production.” So he’s nearly finished a separate project altogether! Anything else? “I’m working on collaborations with Jim and James Dooley who I had featured on ‘The Wings Of Icarus’, which is a song which was in the ‘Real Steel’ movie.” Some fans may be wondering, “If he has time to do all these projects, then why can’t he tour?” Klayton explains: “I just wanna make music. I want to be in the studio, because once you get in the groove producing, it’s so much easier to produce more content, and stopping and leaving and getting sidetracked by other projects and things, it derails you.”

New sounds mean new inspirations, and for Celldweller computers have been a huge help. “Obviously with the advent of the internet and especially places like YouTube, I’m learning so much more, much more quickly now, by watching somebody else do it watching somebody else experiment with something.” But it’s not the just the how, it’s the what and why. “I’m constantly scouring the web for new visual things that I love, and that’s kind of like what shapes the worlds in my head that I’m basically scoring.” Technology is obviously a big part of Celldweller’s sound, but sometimes it’s the people behind the tech that really interest him. After reading the Steve Jobs biography, Klayton describes his reaction, “I was like ‘wow this guy I idolise was pretty much a d*ck’ but you can’t take away the fact that he also propelled apple forward, so I was inspired by that by going “you know what I would love to be part of something and build something that has a tremendous amount of clout, but I wouldn’t approach it the way that he did. Just take the d*ck element out of the equation.”

Celldweller has already built something huge, but by the sounds of it, things are only going to get bigger.

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