#068: Celldweller – Building your own brand

Klayton is an artist, producer, songwriter, plus more!  In true DIY style, he turned his musical passions into a full time career.  After being burned by the old school music business, he set out on his own to do things his way, and the result has been overwhelming success as an indie artist.  Celldweller tracks can be heard all over TV and Film, but beyond that, he has built his own musical brand and identity and continues to experiment with new methods for recording and releasing music.

Check out the latest release from Celldweller here http://www.cdbaby.com/celldweller14



  • After listening to this podcast, I’ve had an epiphany.

    I’ve always worked with live performance as my benchmark for creating music but, hearing Klayton’s work, it seems I’ve been on the wrong path all along. Maybe Ringo, John, Paul and George were right. Maybe, the ultimate goal is just to make great, memorable music.

    I loved Klayton’s wise advice, even though he didn’t say it in so many words, it isn’t the gear but the artist.

    Kevin, this was by far, your best podcast to date. It has inspired me beyond measure…

    And Klayton, if you read this, I love the mix of eastern tonalities with western in the last track played on this podcast. Excellent work!

  • This is an interesting and enlightening interview. Some really great thoughts! Thanks Klayton and Kevin!


  • I’ve not had the chance to listen yet but I obviously will. However, I just had to say;

    Where is the real Robert Lee King and what have you done with him?!


  • Cory Edwards

    Klayton I really hope you read this.

    I had no knowledge of music production at all until, my friend aproached me saying he found this awesome band, that was made up of (in these exact words) “This one guy, who like records all of the elements of his music himself!” At that point in time I beleive I was about 14 years old, and IO heard Switchback, and Industrial rock just captivated me, then I was at school one day, and was in my computer class, and in stead of doing my boring asignments, decided to visit celldweller.com, and saw that there was a remix contest (at this point I am 15).

    I joined and, my remixes never saw the website, until I did my research on the trade (Host programs, plugins, and editing).

    I missed out on the OLW,Frozen, Switchback remixes, because my music sucked to the 100th degree.

    But then I got better with time, and my remixes actually got on fixt, I dont think it made the CD, but I felt, that since it was on the site, that I had already achieved my goal.

    And now I produce music with Pro-Tools HD 8, and tons of sounds, and other resources.

    You are the reason I produce music, I consider myself more of an offspring of Klayton’s inspiration, not a fan (which I still love and adore his music).

    I would love to meet Klay one day, or speak in some manner, about how his career has freakishly effected mine, Thanks Klayton for the inspiration!

  • Neil

    Great interview! Klayton is definitely an inspiration — good music leading to success, no gimmicks needed.

    I was wondering if people have suggestions for TV/film/game licensing intermediaries (like Taxi and Pump Audio). I like the idea of opening up to that possibility, but it’s not something I have the time/interest to pursue doing myself. Has anyone used these? Are there other options you’ve liked?

  • Darren,

    Believe it or not, I’m the real me. I am honest to a fault at all times. If something strikes me wrong I say so and when something strikes me right as was the case with this episode, I likewise say so. I’m not a curmudgeon(sp?) as many might think:)

  • Neil,

    As Klayton said, it really is more about who you know. Taxi and similar entities work for the few but not for most. Add to that the expense of these “services” and it well, doesn’t pencil out as the accountants say…

  • Doug Leach

    I don’t get the PC bashing, especially within the DIY music community. There are plenty of ways to do things on the cheap, but I need a $1000+ computer to get it done? I get that Mac OSX is a more stable operating system than Windows, but they are harder to fix yourself, or upgrade, and they are way more expensive. I can run a $500, self-build PC with Ableton Live, and it works just fine. Don’t discourage the poor people by telling them they need a computer they can’t afford. Do what you can until you can afford better.

  • Doug,

    In fairness, to qualify as bashing they’d have to have said something that was undeserved on the Windows PC side.

    Taking your example, $500 Windows PC with Ableton Live ($549) no monitor and most likely no firewire, onboard audio and video and Windows itself $169 on average. Cost, $1,218.00

    Now, let’s take a low end Mac. The 20″ iMac.
    Built-In HD LED monitor, firewire, onboard audio equivilent to High end PC audio card with optical audio in/out. Onboard Nvidia 9600m video
    8x dual layer DVD burner, OS X 10.6 and iLife which includes iPhoto, iDVD, Garageband, etc. Cost, $1,199.00

    Out of the box, that Mac will do more than the Windows PC and you don’t have to add a monitor to the equation.

    True if you add Ableton Live to the price of the Mac it seems the Windows PC is cheaper but wait, let’s do the math. iMac 20″ $1,199.00 + $549.00 for Ableton Live 8. Final price, $1,748.00

    Now, let’s add a decent monitor to that Windows PC. PC with Ableton Live, Windows and similar capabilities to the iMac 20″. $1,218.00 + 19″ high def LCD monitor $299 or so on average. That brings the Windows PC price up to $1,517.00 and the monitor isn’t even close to the same quality as the built-in Mac monitor.

    Gee, $239 dollars difference…

    Easier upgrades? Partially true, though the bargain Windows PC will be severly limited as far as upgrades go it is easier to plug in a card or swap a lesser one for a better card.

    Cheaper to fix. Not even close to being true. The most common failure on Macs are due to software issues caused by screwed up permissions or preferences getting screwed up due to some action the user took.

    The most common failure on Windows PCs, start with power supplies, cooling fans, main board failures and move on to software issues due to viruses and malware, software and driver version incompatabilities and keep counting. Add in various Windows flavors and the problems go up exponentially.

    I’m not knocking Windows PCs, I love em, they pay my mortgage, food, utilities and other debts month after month, year after year with their frailties.

    By the way, a standalone DAW can be had for a lot less than both and for many DIY recordists, such a machine is all they’ll ever need.

  • PBC

    Honestly, I have to say: I love this podcast, but this guy was unlistenable. Couldn’t even finish the episode because this guy is so up his own a$$. This episode offers nothing for artists looking to make a living. Dude’s obv got connections, and props to him for that. But this guy is the most unlikeable, un-relatable person you’ve had on. Was he doing rails the whole time? Calm down, dude!

  • Killer podcast episode guys! Klayton is such a cool guy and I’ve respected his work for many years (Although my own personal music is completely opposite folky, country, acoustic stuff).

    My biggest take-home was the inspiration to do what you love and what you are good at and don’t worry about pleasing people. We’ve heard this message again and again, but it’s so nice to hear it from someone who is actually successful! Also the decision he had to make not to be a jack-of-all trades, rather to focus. Stick to your brand/sound and just work it. That’s a hard one for the DIYers.

    Regarding the Mac/PC debate. I have store that sells home recording equipment and we get this question all the time. I use both – Macbook Pro and a custom build Intel PC with XP Pro in the studio. It’s just a tool to be used to get the job done. Like buying a Craftsman hammer vs. a Stanley. Will it pound a nail? Great…just use it and move on to making music. You can use either Mac or PC to make great music – often interchangeably like I do with Cubase and Pro Tools files. Here are a couple of random tips for computer recording happiness:

    – Regarding Mac vs. PC: Use what your smartest friend uses. Smart people are always really glad to show you how smart they are, so they can help you when you run into problems. Mac people are especially happy to help you if you convert. Be warned: they might want you to renounce all PCs and ask Steve Jobs into your heart.
    – If you buy a PC get high quality components. I don’t suggest just buying right off the shelf at Future Mart. You might get lucky but usually these guys are doing everything they can to shave $5 off the price, it’s not worth it. Don’t ask your smart PC friend to help you AFTER you purchased your $200 bargain computer with Windows ME. That’s just mean.
    – Think about expandability. iMac might be fine for some people, but you can’t add another internal hard drive, change just the CPU or Monitor later if you want. I have 4 drives in my studio computer for backup, speed and storage because I sometimes do a lot of tracks at one time. Because I picked the parts my self it probably cost me 1/2 the price of a similar Mac Pro tower at the time. Right now apple has the Mac Pro Intel Quad with 3 gig ram (silly) and 640 GB HD (cheaping out) for $2500. Apple is probably making $2000 off this computer. You are paying for the name. If that’s important for you and you have the money – go for it!
    – Saying and thinking things like “I need a Mac to make music” is dead end thinking. Use what you have and what you can afford. If you have a PC home – try it and see. Or use older software that is easier on the CPU. Some people think you can’t make music with an old CRT screen – ridiculous! You are not stuck so don’t get your mind stuck there. A 5 year old PC running an old version of Cubase or free Audacity will still have more features than the Beatles ever dreamed of in a studio. So, what’s stopping YOU?

    (Sorry everyone – my posts are starting to look like Robert Lee King’s now – Seriously, I like the fact you stir things up, Robert. 🙂

  • I’m 45 years old and I fear that I will go to my grave still hearing the ever-so-old Mac vs. PC debate. They both have pros and cons. Pick the platform that works best for you.

    Trying to change other people’s opinions on this issue is as futile as debating religious beliefs.

    Let’s move on, fer cryin’ out loud!

    Kevin, Chris – thanks for another good Podcast.

    BTW, have you ever considered having Robert Lee King on as a guest? He seems to have well-considered opinions about nearly everything, and obviously has no problem expressing himself. I think he’d make for a great guest! (And I’m not being sarcastic 🙂


  • DATmafia

    Klayton is quite a genius in many ways. His EARLY works are quite infamous but his Celldweller creation is it’s own unique thing. You can no longer judge him against his early works. Celldweller stands on it’s own but we can like and appreciate his earlier works.

  • Very Entertaining Interview. Great !
    Even when he hates PCs ;-D I’m on PC , but its true what he said: Learn your gear and go with what’s best for you. (I wish i had a SSL Console and the avalons, distressors and stuff he uses ;-D)

    Thanks for the interview !