INTERVIEW: Klayton (Celldweller, Circle of Dust, Scandroid)

INTERVIEW: Klayton (Celldweller, Circle of Dust, Scandroid)
You know, no one has ever asked me, “What’s the best part about being a music journalist?” Is it hearing new music weeks before anyone else does? Getting up close and personal at concerts? Interacting with the IPHYB crew?

That last one’s a joke.

In my opinion, the best part about being a music journalist is getting to interact with artists, bands, and musicians, defying conventional wisdom that you’re not supposed to meet your heroes. Every encounter is exciting and informative and, most of all, honest. After a while, rock stars shake the image of larger-than-life figures and just become people, like you and I.

So imagine how ecstatic I was to interview Klayton, one of my favorite musicians today. The sole driving force between electronic metal/drum and bass/dubstep outfit Celldweller, newly-revived 90’s industrial outfit Circle of Dust, and new wave revival outfit Scandroid, he’s had incredible success in the music industry both in front of and behind the mic. He’s gone over well at IPHYB, too; the last Celldweller album, End of an Empire, was given a 9/10 and bestowed with the “Best of IPHYB” label.

Since releasing End Of An Empire in November, he has released instrumental and remix compilations of the album, composed the soundtrack for the videogame Killer Instinct: Season Three, dropped a surprise double album of unreleased remixes and tracks called Space & Time (Expansion), released the third volume in his Transmissions series of ambient and atmospheric experiments, released a Scandroid single called Pro-Bots & Robophobes, and re-released Circle of Dust’s first two albums, Circle of Dust and Brainchild, with additional content. His record label, FiXT, has also signed and released albums from The Algorithm and The Qemists. As you can tell, he is a very busy man.

SAM: There’s no denying that your music takes the form of many different genres. But why split your efforts into Celldweller, Scandroid, and Circle of Dust? Is the division really necessary?

KLAYTON: There are things in life you need, and others you simply want. I don’t need to do this, but I want to. Each of these projects represents a very different time period and sound: Circle of Dust is the past, Celldweller is the present, and Scandroid is the future.

S: As we all know, Circle of Dust has been described over and over again as a Christian metal band. It’s safe to say that your lyrics have moved away from religion and towards science fiction, but does your faith continue to influence your music in any way? Will Christianity continue to play a role in future Circle of Dust material?

K: Circle of Dust was never a Christian metal band. I don’t even know what that means, and unfortunately for me, people have errantly referred to it as such, especially when the project was active 20+ years ago. I address this all in the most recent “Ask Circle of Dust” on the Celldweller YouTube channel. If Christianity plays a role in anything I do, it’s because of my belief system, not some presupposed musical mission, or more accurately, one that was projected on me. When you hold a belief system, it should affect everything you do, regardless of what your faith is, or if you have none at all. So I write about the things that affect me or intrigue me and as I always have, I write my lyrics for me – generally to work through some idea or situation in my own life. Apart from that, I’m a huge sci-fi nerd, so I allow myself to flex that creative muscle to develop characters and universes for the pure joy of world building. Have I mentioned yet that I love my job?

S: You composed the theme song to Criss Angel: Mindfreak, wrote music for the games Dead Rising 2 and 3, co-scored Season Three of the fighting game Killer Instinct with Atlas Plug, and are currently scoring a movie called The Dunes. What unique challenges do composing present compared to writing for your own purposes?

K: Well, the main thing with most of those examples is that you are hired to do what you do, but ultimately you’re trying to give people what they’re hiring you to do. When I create for myself, I can do whatever I want and that isn’t always the case in most external situations. I’ve been fortunate in that most things I do for other people, I have been given a fair amount of room to do what I do; they are coming to me because they want what I can create.

S: Let’s talk about your business model for a moment. Your music has been licensed in so many shows, movies, and games that the list would be longer than this interview. In today’s turbulent world of streaming and royalties and whatnot, do you find licensing to be a better source of income?

K: Hmm…I wouldn’t say “better”… “Additional” would be more accurate. I’m fortunate that my sound fits the worlds of the film/TV/video game industries. It was nothing I had deliberately set out to do, but I’m thankful it has worked. It has afforded me the ability to pay my bills and continue to create all the stuff I love to create.

S: Between Celldweller, Scandroid, Circle of Dust, running FiXT, producing many of the artists signed to FiXT, scoring movies, recording YouTube videos, and managing Outland Industries (your clothing line), when do you sleep?

K: I usually try to fit that in while I’m brushing my teeth, fixing my hair, or driving. I don’t recommend any of that.

Klayton 2

S: You’ve been teasing fans with snippets of many, many different releases. I’m just going to list a few of them; please respond with when you think they might be released.
1. Scandroid’s debut album
2. Soundtrack for the Voices In My Head Part 3
3. Circle of Dust album with all-new material
4. Killer Instinct: Season Three soundtrack
5. Future Klash-Ups
6. Future remixes of other artists

K: 1. This year.
2. Not sure.
3. This year.
4. I can’t disclose that, but… soon.
5. No plans.
6. Just wrapped programming on the new I See Stars album, but other than that, no plans.

S: It’s no secret that you hate touring. However, with the release of End of an Empire, will you reluctantly hit the road at some point?

K: Reluctantly. That will definitely not happen this year, but I’m thinking about 2017. Strangely, both my brain and my nuts start aching when I think about it.

S: How long does it take you to do your hair in the morning?

K: I’m not 100% sure because I’m usually blacked out. See the “when do you sleep?” question.

S: The back of every Celldweller CD states, “Unauthorized reproduction of this recording is strictly prohibited by federal law, but that probably won’t stop you anyway.” So what is your take on music piracy?

K: Well, I wrote that up years ago, really more because I find deeply sarcastic humor the most entertaining kind. I wasn’t really making a grumpy old man statement like “Get off my lawn, kids!” I was more making fun of the fact that there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do to prevent it. Has it hurt me financially in the past? Undoubtedly. Has it helped me more than it’s hurt me? Undoubtedly. My music has spread because people have shared it, and I’m not fooling myself into thinking everyone’s buying it. I’m not butthurt about it at all. I don’t make music to be wealthy- I make it because I have to make it; I do what I love and I love what I do. Streaming is pretty much taking over at this point so the piracy issue is becoming more an issue for the film industry than the music industry anymore.

S: Unfortunately, this is my last question. In a hypothetical situation, someone comes up to you on the street and says they want to become a professional recording artist. What advice would you give them to help them succeed?

K: I’ll reuse a paraphrased version of my own answer to this question I gave years ago in another interview. Whether you’re male or female you‘ll need to approach it the same way: you’ll need to drop your pants and make sure you have a huge set of balls, because you’re going to need them. You will not last if you are afraid or easily offended. Don’t make music in fear of failure or whether or not people like what you do and are going to pat you on the back. Make it because you have to in order to live. You’ll find that going hungry once in a while won’t bother you, people’s shitty comments on your Facebook wall won’t matter and those balls are going to get you through the toughest of times. You keep pushing through and you will find your audience. If you quit, you’ll never know.

Since Klayton has three different projects going, here’s a song from each one. You’re welcome.

INTERVIEW: Klayton (Celldweller, Circle of Dust, Scandroid)
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  • RandomUser99317

    Cool interview, I remember laughing out loud when I saw the “but that probably won’t stop you anyway.” on the BLACKSTAR CD case. GG