It’s a near certainty that every movie fan has heard the music of Celldweller.
Klayton, the man behind the electronic rock project, has become one of Hollywood’s go-to musicians. His unique style of rock/metal mixed with orchestral elements and the electronic sounds of drum ‘n bass and dubstep can be heard spicing up movies, film trailers and video games.
With his sophomore album “Wish Upon A Blackstar” set for release tomorrow, Klayton’s story truly is the embodiment of the American dream.
The journey for Klayton began in a cellar studio in New York in 1999. After going deeply in debt to produce a demo, he was signed to a major record label. Just when things seemed to be taking off, the tragedy of 9/11 and its impact on the economy forced that label to dissolve, leaving Klayton not only without its financial backing but forcing him to pay back the advance money they had already given him.
Undeterred, Klayton headed to Detroit, where he could work independently on his debut album, the 2003 release “Celldweller,” in a friend’s studio. After spending the next two years touring and producing, he decided to relocate entirely from New York to Detroit, setting up his own studio in a bedroom of his first house. This is also where the idea was born for his own company, FiXT.
Originally conceived as a clothing line, FiXT quickly became a record label, a way of producing and releasing Celldweller’s music along with that of his brother’s band, Level, and a new band named Blue Stahli. The latter group’s front man, Bret, initially came to Klayton looking to be a studio assistant but was soon producing his own music.
“During all this, I had built a pretty good track record in the film, TV and video game world,” Klayton said via a newsletter announcing the new album. “As a completely independent artist, I rose from certain financial and career death, began building my empire, paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars of ‘failed record label’ debt and decided it was time for an upgrade. I bought my next house, and spent the first two years in a bedroom studio while my dream studio was being built.”
Klayton’s list of film and television credits is extensive. His music has appeared in trailers for films like “Iron Man,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” in television series like “NCIS” and “CSI” and in video games like “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” and “Assassins Creed 2.”
He also co-wrote and produced the theme song to Criss Angel’s television show “Mind freak.” Angel also uses a dozen or so of Klayton’s songs in his Las Vegas production “Believe.”
The production of “Wish Upon A Blackstar” has taken several years to complete. This is in no part due to laziness, but the exact opposite. During the years following his debut album, Klayton has released several remix albums, two separate volumes of instrumentals titled “Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head” and has toured with a live show which was released earlier this year as a live album and DVD, all while growing his own business.
“I am a bit of a skeptic and a pessimist. So sometimes I have to be reminded about how much I’ve actually accomplished by the good people around me because all I seem to focus on is what I have yet to accomplish, setting new goals or busting my ass to reach the ones I’ve already set for myself,” he said in the newsletter.
All of that hard work has certainly paid off for Klayton.
“Things have changed radically over the last few years, starting with a crew of four (Me, Myself, I and Tyler Bacon, my long standing friend and manager) then to my first employee (Jimmy Rhodes) and now seeing FiXT as a successful record label, remix community and full-blown online store with over 40,000 tracks, band merch, etc. and growing,” he says. “We’ve got a sizable team including our own PR, distribution, art department, order fulfillment, retail team, web coders, human resources and accounting. That doesn’t even include the Celldweller side of things, like tour managers and studio assistants.”
Klayton’s story serves as a sterling example of what makes this such a great country. If you have a dream and are willing to put in the hard work, anything is possible.