There's a chance you haven't actually heard the name Celldweller yet. But I can almost guarantee you've heard the music... and loved it. A musical juggernaut built and operated by a single multi-instrumental artist, singer and producer – who goes simply by the name “Klayton” – Celldweller is arguably one of the most-heard bands around, thanks to its omni-presence in countless high-concept Hollywood trailers, movies, television shows and video games.
Virtually every track from Celldweller's self-titled 2003 album – a bestselling blend of electro-industrial instrumentals and heavy guitar-driven dance-metal songs like the popular “Switchback” and “Frozen” – has been licensed for some form of mass media, from movies and trailers (Spider-Man 2, The Punisher, The Hills Have Eyes 2), to video games (Project Gotham Racing, Need for Speed: Most Wanted) to TV series (Pimp My Ride, America's Top Model). Klayton's newest track “Birthright” recently surfaced in the trailers for Speed Racer and summer smash Iron Man – and Klayton isn't even technically done with that song yet! His second release The Beta Cessions contained remixes and previously unreleased sides, and many of those cuts have been gained major media exposure as well.
A natural extension of Klayton's soundtrack-friendly output is his own thriving label FiXT Music, which supports, produces and distributes the work of like-minded artists who have themselves lent their sounds to high-profile visual media. One such artist is Atlas Plug (aka Tom Salta), whose music not only accompanies the games Ghost Recon, Red Steel and Cold Fear, but also made it into the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Klayton's latest Celldweller release, a collection of brief but powerful cinema-suitable cues titled Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head Volume 01, is coming out soon (you can already download “Birthright” and several other tracks from SVH 01 for free through FiXT, go check 'em out pronto), so we decided to check in with the mystery man himself for the lowdown on this new musical venture, and the status of his ambitious upcoming projects – including the long-awaited follow-up to the first Celldweller album.
FEARnet: “Birthright” and “Solaris” have already been licensed for movie trailers. Have other songs from SVH 01 been acquired?
KLAYTON: “Through the Gates” [my personal fave – GSB] has landed in MTV’s The Hills and Activision’s Baja 1000 video game. Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head Volume 01 still has not been released... so all of the licenses I’ve gotten so far are from unreleased versions. In the new year, management will get into the hands of film/TV/video game people and we’ll see what happens from there.
Is SVH 01 essentially the second Beta Cessions release, or is that still coming?
No, I wanted to be sure that SVH 01 was a separate entity from the Beta Cessions material. In fact The Beta Cessions II (when I ever get around to working on those tracks) will be primarily new material and not a bunch of remixes and alt versions of songs from the sophomore Celldweller album. I approached the new Celldweller disc differently than any other album I’ve written. I just focused on writing songs I liked, and not so much on the ear candy and production as much – that would come later. So I ended up with almost twice as many songs that didn’t make the new CD than ones that actually did make it.
None of the songs from SVH 01 were from the new album sessions with the exception of “Narrow Escape.” That track began its life as a chorus for what ended up being “Birthright.” It didn’t work for vocals, so I put it aside then came back to it later and finished it off for SVH 01.
The artwork looks incredible. What led you to Sam Hayles, and are you planning on using more of his work in the future?
I had known of Sam’s work without knowing it was Sam’s work. It turns out I was a fan of art he had done for other bands [Pitchshifter, Drawbacks, Victory Pill] and he was a Celldweller fan. We ended up putting the pieces together somehow and finally connected. The first thing I did was ask if he would be interested in being hired on to design the website for FiXT. Thankfully he accepted.
FiXT itself is much more than just a music label, so part of what we’re doing is creating a community for artists to collaborate and distribute their art in various ways. A natural fit was to ask Sam if he would be interested in selling “Digital Art Singles” through our store. So he compiled a bunch of his original artwork in sizes ranging from cell phone wallpapers to desktop images to hi-res printable versions, and we’ve got them up for people to grab and use as you wish [you can see Sam’s digital art and site design at http://fixtstore.com].
Will a new version of “Birthright” be included on your next official album?
Absolutely. I’m just really hoping I can get the disc done before people are so sick of “Birthright” they’ll never want to hear it again. The currently released version is basically my demo.... I will recut and redo pretty much everything on the track, so by the time the next Celldweller disc comes out, “Birthright” should sound a bit different... and hopefully a little better?
Will any other songs from SVH 01 be making a return on that album?
Please God, no! I’m trying to keep SVH as a separate thought from the Celldweller artist albums from The Beta Cessions, etc. I do plan on doing more volumes for Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head and more Beta Cessions as well. I think my next priority should be finishing up the next Celldweller disc, or the people who have been patiently waiting for it will disown me…
So how is the Celldweller album progressing? Can you share any details, or hint at a possible release date?
I can share only a few details [because] I may be castrated if I say too much and don’t deliver. Like I said earlier, the process for this album is totally different than any other I’ve done. So, that being said, I’ve recorded all the final vocals first. That has usually been the last step for me, but I wanted to put more of an emphasis on vocals on this album, so [co-producer] Grant Mohrman and I agreed that I would cut vocals first and build everything else around them.
I do actually have one song completely done [“So Long Sentiment”] and I'm working away on a few others simultaneously. I would love to just tell everyone “The album will be done by this date,” but I’ve learned my lesson on that one. It’s hard to predict when it will actually wrap up. I can tell you that I am thinking about alternative methods of releasing this album altogether, but I won't say anything until I’m ready to commit... that always gets me in trouble.
I’ve also had an album title for a while, but haven’t officially announced that either. I’d love to say it’s because I’m “dark and mysterious,” but it’s more like “I get distracted by other things and forget.” Not quite as cool, huh?
Most of your songs have been licensed for a variety of media, but you also wrote and performed original music for Criss Angel. Have you been approached by any other film, TV or game producers to do an original score?
I have been approached to create custom cues for Movie Trailers, TV shows etc. Some I’ve taken on, but the nature of these things is that they don’t always work out for one reason or another. At the moment my priority is wrapping the Celldweller disc... then anything goes.
Tom Salta [aka Atlas Plug] and I have discussed collaborating on something when the time and project is right. Tom is also a FiXT artist and you can get some of his tracks for free on the FiXT site as well.
Can we look forward to a new live Celldweller show in the near future?
There was definitely a time where I would have answered this question with an emphatic “HELL NO!!!” But I’ve been rethinking my live show completely and may put together a one-man multimedia show instead of putting together a 4-5 piece rock band like I have done traditionally. So at this point, I’ll leave it at “Never say never.”
What's your greatest fear?
Living in a world without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.