Illustrated – Sean Layton – Interview

Written by on March 30, 2013
Illustrated | Sean Layton | Interview | Bliss Magazine Online | EDM
Sean Layton is the hottest new EDM and dubstep artist to hit LA with his band Illustrated. Straight out of Texas, he brings a unigue mix of rock underpinnings to his EDM and never loses his focus on beautiful melodies.

While WE characterize what Sean creates as EDM or dubstep...Sean just calls it music. It's the melodies in his head and in his world. Whatever the label, its working. In true Bliss Magazine style we have more than an interview here; stay a bit and enjoy his music, our video interview excerpts and the written, exclusive interview with Sean Layton, of Illustrated:
Q: So the CW channel is using your music on Beauty and the Beast... how cool is that?
Sean: It’s an honor knowing that someone liked something of yours enough to use it to try and promote whatever it is they are doing. In this case it was Beauty and The Beast, of all shows.
About six months ago my good friend Jason Donnelly (DJ Puzzle), submitted some of my tracks to a company called APM for consideration. I knew the cut was being considered, but nothing was guaranteed.
If a song does get picked up, they don't shoot you an email saying, "Hey such-and-such song is being used for this TV show you'll be able to hear it at such-and-such time." It doesn't work that way. You don't find out until you get your statement each quarter.

"Playing live is when I am completely in my comfort is in my blood."
--Sean Layton, Illustrated

Q: Subtle Hints. What is the story behind that song? I’m sure plenty of guys can relate to your lyrics/experience.
Sean: This is the million-dollar question. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked this. Although I won't say who it’s about specifically, I will say that this person probably has no idea it’s about them either. I wrote the chorus back in the summer of 2011 and it was intended to be used in my old band. It’s about someone I hung out with a couple times and just never saw too much again. The lyrics are pretty black and white.

Q: You mentioned a background in a rock band? Who were they? What role did you play in that band?
Sean: Yeah, I played in bands all my life. The only one worth mentioning is my old band, South Shores, where I played guitar and sang. Back when Myspace was big in 2006, I would just post demos made online.
I got the name "South Shores" from a neighborhood I grew up in as a kid. I needed an URL name, so I just named it after that. I started building a little following online, so it just kind of stuck.
That band taught me everything from song writing, marketing, booking, promoting, etc. It was an important time in my life that got me where I am now.

Q: How'd you come up with your name ILLUSTRATED?
Sean: There is a section in my phone where I write notes and ideas to myself. One day I was scrolling through it and I had written "Illustrated (song/band name)." I thought it sounded cool, so I decided to use it for the name of this project.
Q: How do you characterize your music? Electronic? Dubstep?
Sean: It’s definitely all electronic but I have elements from dubstep, electro, downtempo, pop, rock, etc. I don't really know what to call it. I just make music I like.

"Fame is an illusion. It doesn't mean they are better than you. Or smarter. But maybe cooler, haha"
--Sean Layton, Illustrated


Q: Is this your first album? How has it been received and how do you create awareness?
Sean: "Mental Drug" is my first EP that I released on Solar Sound Records. I used the tools I learned in my old band to get the word out. I find Twitter to be the easiest way for me to reach out to new people. It’s just so direct. Other than that I just network at any chance I get. I tell anyone I can about my music and try to get it to as many people as possible.
It's a lot harder than you think to get a random person to just click a link and press Play. There is so much music and people don't want to waste any time on something they may or may not like. It's all about the elevator pitch. You've gotta seriously talk them into it.

Q: What were you going for with this album? What feeling or impression do you hope to make?
Sean: I wasn't really going for anything specific. It was the first thing I ever released after my band, so, if anything, I was just anxious to get something out. Since that release I have been working on countless demos trying new things, experimenting, and really trying to develop a uniform sound. I would say that right now I have about fout to five really solid, almost finished new songs that I need to record vocals on and three to four rough ideas I am working on - all of which I am very excited about. My next album will be my best work yet.
Check out some excerpts from our Illustrated interview:

Q: Do you perform live?
Sean: Yeah, absolutely. 2012 for me was getting the word out about ILLUSTRATED and building my following. Now that that is more in place I will be playing a lot in 2013. I recently just played a festival in Dallas, TX called "Unsilent Night," and I just got booked on another festival in March called, "Never Say Never."

Q: Who would you like to work with in the future?
Sean: I think it would be so amazing to collaborate with some sort of symphony orchestra group or any kind of artist that is on the opposite side of the spectrum. I loved what the Grammys did with the "Regeneration" film. I would love to be a part of something as challenging as that.
How about some Illustrated tunes? Here's Sean's newest one Alright Stop:

Q: What are your immediate career goals? How about the future? What does success mean for you?
Sean: I want to be playing live as much as possible this year. Playing live is when I am completely in my comfort zone. I definitely will be putting out more releases and I just want to keep watching this project grow organically.
As for long term, I want ILLUSTRATED to be a household name. I want to be able to reach people across the globe in different countries and to make an impact on them in a positive way through my music.
Success to me is just doing what you love always, and following through with all the goals you set for yourself. You can have, do, and be anything you want, if you believe you can.

"...I don't really know what to call it. I just make music I like."
--Sean Layton, Illustrated


Q: You recently released a beautiful rendition of the classic Christmas song, "Carol Of Bells." Can you tell us more about that?
Sean: I wanted to do a Christmas song and "Carol of Bells" was instantly my first choice to remake. I took what I thought were the best parts of the original song and turned it into my own adding different melodies and such. I am really proud of how it turned out.

Q: Was there music in your home growing up? What was that like? What were your influences as a kid?
Sean: Yes, definitely. My parents are both music majors, so music is in my blood. My mom is a Beatles fanatic, so that was always playing throughout the house. My dad loves classic rock and is a great guitarist, so he got me jump started on that as a kid. My parents both taught me a lot about melody. Even though I have always loved the heavier side of music, melody is instilled in me.
As a kid my first love was rock. I remember when a friend first introduced me to the band Korn in 5th grade. I instantly fell in love with rock music after that. Later on, growing up, I got into more punk stuff. It really wasn't until about two years ago that I got into electronic music.

Check out Illustrated's EP - Mental Drug
Buy some. You seriously won't regret it

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Sean: The hardest part about being in a band is finding people who are on the same level of dedication, click with you musically, and have the same ambitions. Once you do that, then you all have to coordinate times that work with all of your schedules to practice, then you all have to budget to save up for recordings, merchandise, gas for the van, etc. That’s just a portion of challenges that arise.
For some that may sound easy, but I am here to tell you it is difficult. It takes a certain level of drive and motivation to make it happen. I was able to overcome that challenge by becoming a solo artist. Every band I was ever in that failed, failed because of those reasons.
Doing ILLUSTRATED alone allows me to be on my own schedule. I make all the decisions. If something does or doesn't happen, it’s because of me not - because someone flaked out on me, you know?
The great thing about being in a band is the camaraderie. When you find the right members and it clicks, it’s awesome. Everyone is a team and everyone is special in their own way. Lots of inside jokes are made, and it’s like a little family. There are always fights, but that’s just the way it is.
I still talk to all the old members of my last band. They are all very talented in their own way and I plan on collaborating with some of them.

"If you hate it, don't do it. If you love, it don't stop."
--Sean Layton, Illustrated

Q: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Sean: Whether you are in a band or trying to be a DJ, producer, doctor, lawyer, or teacher - whatever it is you wanna be - it all takes dedication and drive. You can't give up on something if it's what you love.
You have to work harder than the next person. When all your friends are going out, you have to have the motivation to say no and stay at home and perfect whatever it is you are working on. People will always doubt you and tell you that you can't, but you have to have the courage to listen to your intuition and go for it.
You will know if what you are doing is the right thing for you. If you hate it, don't do it. If you love, it don't stop.

Q: What do you think of garden gnomes?
Sean: They scare me....

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