Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Men Behind The Man

Nihongo Influences

influences of music

It is no secret that Rob Dougan is heavily influenced by the Japanese culture - literature, art and music. This is clearly characterised by the use of "Kurayamino" in his mix of his famous classic club anthem, "Clubbed To Death".

In a personal correspondance, Rob Dougan outlines his influences -

"A good friend of mine, who never calls me, Takuya Seki, suggested the name 'Kurayamino' for my final version of "Clubbed To Death". He lives in Tokyo and the name means 'Darkness'. The are some musical feelings in "Clubbed To Death" that remind me a bit of Ryuichi Sakamoto who is a wonderful composer of music."

BiographyAward-winning composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto has made a career of crossing musical and technological boundaries. Sakamoto has experimented with, and excelled in, many different musical styles, making a name for himself in popular, orchestral and film music. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, Sakamoto continues to push the envelope of his artistry, marrying genres, styles and technologies for the first time to create new and exciting directions in musical expression.


influence of art

Moon Pine, Ueno 1857 (130 Kb); From "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo"; Woodblock print, 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in; The Brooklyn Museum

Plum Estate, Kameido 1857 (150 Kb); From "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo"; Woodblock print, 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in; The Brooklyn Museum

Ushimachi, Takanawa 1857 (130 Kb); From "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo"; Woodblock print, 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in; The Brooklyn Museum

I very much like Ando Hiroshige, and have four works of his. For some reason I find this very inspiring. You can see these on the internet (Omi Province Plate 22 from 60 Odd Provinces, Koma Katado Azumabashi Plate 82? from 100 Famous Views of Edo, Kasumigaseki Plate 12 from 100 Famous Views of Edo, Yatsumi No Hashi Plate 45 from 100 Famous Views...)

Hiroshige (1797-1858), Japanese painter and printmaker, known especially for his landscape prints. The last great figure of the Ukiyo-e, or popular, school of printmaking, he transmuted everyday landscapes into intimate, lyrical scenes that made him even more successful than his contemporary, Hokusai.

Ando Hiroshige was born in Edo (now Tokyo) and at first, like his father, was a fire warden. The prints of Hokusai are said to have first kindled in him the desire to become an artist, and he entered the studio of Utagawa Toyohiro, a renowned painter, as an apprentice. In 1812 Hiroshige took his teacher's name (a sign of graduation), signing his work Utagawa Hiroshige. His career falls roughly into three periods. From 1811 to about 1830 he created prints of traditional subjects such as young women and actors. During the next 15 years he won fame as a landscape artist, reaching a peak of success and achievement in 1833 when his masterpiece, the print series Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (scenes on the highway connecting Edo and Kyoto), was published. He maintained this high level of craftmanship in other travel series, including Celebrated Places in Japan and Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. The work he did during the third period, the last years of his life, is sometimes of lesser quality, as he appears to have hurriedly met the demands of popularity. He died of cholera on October 12, 1858, in Edo.

With Hokusai, Hiroshige dominated the popular art of Japan in the first half of the 19th century. His work was not as bold or innovative as that of the older master, but he captured, in a poetic, gentle way that all could understand, the ordinary person's experience of the Japanese landscape as well as the varied moods of memorable places at different times. His total output was immense, some 5400 prints in all.


influences of literature

Yasunari Kawabata is a great novelist. When I was working on Nothing at all, I even put a phrase from his book, "Snow Country" in one of the lines. I think the book of his I appreciated the most was "The Sound Of The Mountain." [sic] There's a feeling I get from his novels that has inspired me many time. The feeling I got from "Snow Country" and "Sound Of The Mountain" is expressed in "Nothing At All", and parts of "Clubbed To Death."

I really like the theatricality of film makers like Kurosawa and some of that has found its way into being an influence. The film of Yasujiro Ozu, "Tokyo Story" one is my favorite films. I like the slow formal quality, the economy, the understatement....I can't put it into words so quickly....

First Japanese novelist, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1968). Many of Kawabata's book explore melancholically the place of sex in culture and people's lives. His works combined old Japan's beauty with modernist trends, realism with surrealistic visions. Over the course of his life, Kawabata wrote more than a hundred 'palm-of-the-hand' stories - as the author called them. They were usually two or three pages long, and expressed according to Kawabata the essence of his art.

In 1954 appeared Kawabata's perhaps best work, "Yama No Oto" (The Sound Of The Mountains), which depicted family crisis in a series of linked episodes. The protagonist, Shingo, represents traditional Japanese caring of human relationships and nature. He is concerned about the marital crises of his two children. Scenes from the hero's daily life are interwoven with poetic descriptions of nature, dreams, and recollections.

Among Kawabata's famous works after World War II is "The Snow Country" (finished 1948), the story of a middle-aged aesthete, Shimamura, and an aging geisha, Komako. As a background of their sporadic affair is a distinct isolated location, a hotspring resort west of the central mountain range, where winters are dark, long and silent. "After all, these fingers keep a vivid memory of the woman I am going to see," Shimamura thinks when he travels to the snow country by train. It takes him to another place, away from his ballet book he is writing. But this far-off destination gives him only a temporary home, a reflection of something else when the night transforms the coach's window into a mirror. Komako is violently in love with him, and she is not a reflection, created according to Shimamura's aesthetic vision. Kawabata later told that he modelled her after a real character.


Snow Country
To this haunting novel of wasted love, Kawabata brings the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature. As he chronicles the affair between a wealthy dilettante and the mountain geisha who gives herself to him without illusions or regrets, one of Japan's greatest writers creates a work that is dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.

"I also like the boldness and extremity of a personality like Mishma. His life is fascinating . He went from being a soft quite "poet", to being a soldier of sorts. His book "Sun And Steel" impressed me very much, and perhaps influence some of the attitudes with the extreme personality on "Furious Angels."

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) - Pseudonym for Hiraoka Kimitake
Prolific writer, who is considered by many critics as the most important Japanese novelist of the 20th century. Mishima's works include 40 novels, poetry, essays, and modern Kabuki and Noh dramas. He was three times nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. Among his masterpieces is "The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion" (1956). The tetralogy "The Sea Of Fertility" (1965-70) is regarded by many as Mishima's most lasting achievement. As a writer Mishima drew inspiration from pre-modern literature, both Japanese and Western.


"One of the twentieth century's outstanding statements of literary and personal purpose."

In this fascinating document, one of Japan's best known - and controversial - writers created what might be termed a new literary form. It is new because it combines elements of many existing types of writing, yet in the end fits into none of them.

At one level, it may be read as an account of how a puny, bookish boy discovered the importance of his own physical being; the "Sun And Steel" of the title are themselves symbols respectively of the cult of the open air and the weights used in bodybuilding. At another level, it is a discussion by a major novelist of the relation between action and art, and his own highly polished art in particular. More personally, it is an account of one individual's search for identity and self-integration. Or again, the work could be seen as a demonstration of how an intensely individual preoccupation can be developed into a profound philosophy of life.

All these elements are woven together by Mishima's complex yet polished and supple style. The confession and the self-analysis , the philosophy and the poetry combine in the end to create something that is in itself perfect and self-sufficient. It is a piece of literature that is as carefully fashioned as Mishima's novels, and at the same time provides an indispensable key to the understanding of them as art.

The road Mishima took to salvation is a highly personal one. Yet here, ultimately, one detects the unmistakable tones of a self transcending the particular and attaining to a poetic vision of the universal. The book is therefore a moving document, and is highly significant as a pointer to the future development of one of the most interesting novelists of modern times.


Sunday, June 26, 2005


Written by Kylie Minogue/Rob Dougan. Published by Mushroom Music International/BMG Music Publishing Ltd. Produced by Rob Dougan for Clubbed to Death productions. Co-produced by Jay Burnett. Engineered by Pete Craige.

On "Impossible Princess / Kylie Minogue" (Album):

CD: 11/1997 AU (Mushroom; MUSH33069.2 / 9 397603 306921 M)
[Impossible Princess - 12 - tr]

CD: 11/1997 JP
[Impossible Princess - 13-tr]

CD: 23.03.1998 UK (Deconstruction / BMG; 74321 517272)
[Kylie Minogue - 12-tr]

CASS: 23.03.1998 UK (Deconstruction / BMG)
[Kylie Minogue - 12-tr]

04:02 Jump [09]

[Note: Originally due for release in 1997, the album was delayed
partly due to revamping of artwork after the title was changed
from "Impossible Princess" to "Kylie Minogue", following news of
Princess Diana's fatal accident]


"...Cooler still is "Jump", a collaboration with Mo' Wax's Rob Dougan, the closet Australian classical beats masher. "My friend Skinny was playing "Clubbed To Death" around his house when I was there and I loved it, so Skinny says he knows the guy and offers to set something up." Nice one, Skinny..."

iD (UK) November 1997


If I'm scared let me lose it
If I'm hungry let me have it
If I'm cold let my skin rise
If I'm wrong let me learn it
If I'm grubby let the dirt stay
If I'm tired let me shut my eyes

I have dread and fear and light and laughter
I know there is an ever after
I'm eager and ready
It only hurts sometimes
I run to the future and jump

If I'm hurt let me feel it
If I'm sad let the tears run
If I'm stupid let me be that way
And if I'm bored let me show it
And if I'm bad let me be it
If I'm sure let me have my say

I have dread and fear and light and laughter
I know there is an ever after
I'm eager and ready
It only hurts sometimes
I run to the future and jump

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Furious Angels - The Video

UK 3:45 2002
DIRECTOR: Howard Greenhalgh

Comments from the "Furious Angels" Video Director, Howard Greenhalgh

I have directed literally hundreds of videos in my time, but this one is definitely one of the best. Not just because of the track, but because I got the chance to work with Rob.

He's a really interesting guy. Totally commited to the film making process as much as the music side.

It's not often an artist will let you fly with an crazy idea.
Here's how I put it to him.
"Rob, if you agree to this concept, you are going to get hurt"
"Great" he said.
And he did......the shot where he is sliding towards the rolling car.....well he was supposed to stop 3 feet from the car.
He didn't....he smashed straight into it.

A swift Hospital visit and X-rays later proved he survived.
We went on to drag him across Cape Town. He did 95% of his own stunts. Got cut bruised and drenched......and never complained once.
Believe me, when you are working directly with artists, this rarely happens.

My parting words to Rob were, "whatever you do next, call me. This could only be the start."

I hope he does.

[Courtesy of robdougan.net forum where Howard Greenhalgh has posted his message on Dec. 4th, 2002.]

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Furious Angels

Furious Angels
Review by Reuben

A thousand words cannot describe the overwhelming, aural-sounding orchestrations that "Furious Angels" is. Organic, epic, and highly charged - this album is a labour of love. Taking over seven years to see this in fruition has to be the most satisfying, but exhausting process for Rob Dougan.

When his club shattering masterpiece "Clubbed To Death" arrived on all dancefloors simultaneously in 1995, Dougan knew full well what he was doing. Becoming the most recognised classic club anthem, its electronica-inspired beats continues to be played proudly today.

Intense with richly dense orchestrations, never has one body of work has inspired, tantilized and satisfied beyond high expectations. The classical overtures ring true to the very core of my classically trained body, yet the grinding beats and energy send an ecstatic euphoria that can only be felt in the atmosphere reserved to the darkened club room.

The buildups, the synths, the flurry of strings, the angelic vocals - all contrast against the rasp of Dougan's own, broken voice. Likened to Tom Waits, Dougan's voice is an acquired taste. Full of depth, growling and emotion, he adds another dimension to his creation.

Dougan's music is basically neo-classicaly-electronica: a new breed of music that marries orchestral arrangements with a club foundation. Dripping with emotion and heart-felt lyrics, Dougan's music has resonated in those he has touched. Never content and always the perfectionist, Dougan never stays with the formula. No doubt this classic club hit features prominently on "Furious Angels", he lets his vast musical influences flow and ebb on the rest of the album.

He has the ability to intricately bring in influences from slow jazz ("Drinking Song"), the fury of orchestral brilliance ("I'm Not Driving Anymore") or the simple cinematic experience of "Will You Follow Me" to carve a musical landscape, fit for cinematic audience of today.

Once you've had a taste of Rob Dougan, you'll be hard press to find another musical masterpiece to come this way.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Man Behind The Music

Furious Angels

With a counter-intuitive grasp of pop essentials, a sweeping, cinematic sensibility and an undeniable flair for classical grandeur, composer, producer and performer Rob Dougan may well be the tonic contemporary music is so desperately seeking: an artist unafraid to challenge audiences with his eloquence, elegance and a wide range of eclectic influences.

All this and more is a glorious display with Furious Angels, Rob Dougan's extraordinary Reprise Records debut album, featuring fifteen Dougan originals, written, arranged, produced and performed by the artist, with timely assistance from a few carefully chosen muses and a 122 piece orchestra and choir.

Including his hugely influential UK hit, "Clubbed To Death," the music of Furious Angels is an ambitious, audacious and ultimately inspiring tour de force from a decidedly disruptive new presence in popular culture. It's music, in short, that takes the full measure of the man, leaving in its wake intriguing indicators of a brilliant career in the making.

It's a career that began back in his native Australia, where Dougan attending Sydney's prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts (with alumni that include Mel Gibson, Baz Luhrmann and Cate Blanchett) as an acting major. A tumultuous love affair gone wrong sent him spinning off to London where he landed a job selling jeans and trying to concoct a fitting creative vehicle for his restless musical, visual and dramatic energies.

Talent wasn't the problem. His early experiments in remixing quickly established his reputation on the London underground, and the 1995 release of his original track "Clubbed To Death" catapulted him into the limelight with a dance anthem for once, truly worthy of its renown. It was followed in short order by "Furious Angels" with a title sprung from the aeronautic musings of Jean Cocteau - typical of an artist who lists among his influences Emily Dickinson, David Lean, Yukio Mishima and the screenplay to Scent Of A Woman.

The problem was Dougan's stubborn insistence on doing things his own way. The regulation route to fast track success would have been for him to gratefully accept a record company advance and cut an album more or less to specifications. He had other things in mind. Absolutely determined to infuse modern music with texture, depth and perhaps most audacious of all, intelligence, Dougan set about reproducing to exacting tolerances the sounds he heard inside his head.

An imposing feat, first and foremost because those cranial compositions had an enormously expansive range and reach. And when Dougan's UK label balked at underwriting his ever-expanding vision, it was up to the artist to find his own financing.

That turned out to be the easy part. Word of mouth had by this time reached interested parties of very high profile, who kept Dougan busy on all manner of remix, writing and production projects. Among them: Pet Shop Boys, U2, Moby and Kyle [sic] Minogue. At the same time, "Clubbed To Death" became virtually standard musical accompaniment on all manner of commercials, TV scores, and most notably, on the soundtrack to The Matrix. Dougan could quite easily have provided handsomely for himself simply from his for-hire proceeds.

But that was hardly the point. Even as he continued to garner an ever-more impressive client roster, Dougan was spending late nights, early mornings and every spare minute between creating a musical declaration of independence that would finally showcase his multi-faceted gifts. Essential to the effort was Dougan's dedicated, some might say obsessive, hands-on approach to every aspect of production and recording, singing every part, playing virtually every instrument and arranging and conducting the full studio orchestra and choir required to illuminate his sweeping soundscapes.

It was a labor of love lasting the better part of six years, and while the result, Furious Angels speaks, sings and soars for itself, the temptation to sample the critical raves that greeted it's UK release earlier this year is irresistible. "It's made with clinical precision," observed Dazed & Confused, "but you won't hear another album this year with more feeling." "A classy slice of epic, orchestral house music," opined Q, while The Word raved "A sophisticated widescreen epic that defies categorization due to its sheer and utter brilliance..."

All of which may suggest that the music of Rob Dougan regularly leaves listeners tongue-tied. That's precisely the intent. There's simply no percentage in attempting to explain the lingering effects of such standout tracks as "Will You Follow Me?", "One In [sic] The Same" and "Speed Me Towards Death," with their vast orchestral horizons; the haunting evocations of "Drinking Song" with it's bleary barroom poetry or the flat out rhythmic assault of "Clubbed To Death" and the title track. This is music to be experienced, to be lived. Which is exactly how it was made.

[Warner Bros. Media Information]

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Clubbed To Death - The Visual Experience

3:21 2002
DIRECTOR: David Slade
PRODUCER: Barney Jeffrey
ART DIRECTOR: Tracey Collis
CO-PRODUCTION: Rolling Picture (Cape Town)

STILLS: Chinese propaganda

Shot on 35mm with an Arriflex 434 camera.
Used Flame v.7.6. for effects and compositing.

Inspired by the Aussie hip-hop composer's decidedly cinematic stylings, David Slade delivers his most overtly filmic offering with a bleak townspeople literally doomed to relive their history, wary of one man's striving to break the spell in a footrace for fiery, balletic freedom.

Styled and groomed from the 50's the retro aura is hightened by the one of the universal dimensions - time. It is here time is in reversed. But Dougan decidedly tries to break free of the confines of his prison - time. An analogy of his own music creativity, Dougan breaks down barriers, reforms structures and goes his own unique way.

In the video, he is struggling to push forward - blissfully invisible to the high class society all moving backwards around him. Dougan breaks loose, finally speeding up...faster, faster, FASTER.

David Slade outlines below the cinematic storyboard to Dougan's eye-catching music video -

Set the streets that could exist somewhere in a retro imagination, people are dressed in the 40s styling of “Brazil” or “Gattaca” the cars are old, and range between 50s and 70s in styling..

A street full of people, the air is thick with black and red smoke as a large crowd go about their business, the ground is wet as raindrops begin to drift upwards into the sky.

We see a street thick with smoke, the aftermath of a riot, a society in reverse anomie.

Time is running backwards.

We see giants taller than a man, perhaps 16 feet tall. They seem to be ignored by the world.

On the ground by one of the giant legs a child holding a ragged bear, an archetype of innocence with a dirt smeared face stares up at one of the giant figures as it passes by.

In the crowd Rob Dougan is trying to move against time but he seems almost frozen, he is trying to move forward in this reverse world.

He strains in a street where people pass by his near motionless body he begins to break loose and slowly speeds faster and faster, and as he gets faster so the structure of the video speeds with him.

He is at first wet then rain launches upwards, the air thick with a haze of torrential downpour, but as the rain abruptly stops he becomes dry.

In the crowd we see a tiny moment of redemption a couple kissing in heavy rain that threatens to drown them. But the kiss in extreme slow motion ends in expressions of horror from their faces as if each has just experienced violation.

Back with Rob moving forwards against the tide. Throughout the video he has the same determined look on his face of single-minded concentration as he powers along.

He runs in a straight line, he runs out of the crowded street speeding up a bit at a time, he soon reaches normal human running speed he runs through two people laying on the ground who reel upwards and then he takes off running even faster.

He leaves a blast of air in his wake that ripples the clothes of the people he passes while papers loose in the breeze swirl in a dissipating reverse vortex as he passes.

He is so fast that he is keeping up with cars, that speed backwards down roads. He veers out into roads and has to find longer straighter roads to accommodate his speed.

The police are attempting to track this speeding figure who is tearing down roads one after the other, his speed increases until he is running at the side of a police car, then out-running in lightning fast steps.

As he gets even faster so the video gets faster and faster, until he is tearing down straight roads in the middle of nowhere.

He runs past cars, looks in other car windows startling drivers and bored children who were sitting gazing out of the passenger seat window;

The child looks out and sees another giant figure standing by the motorway/freeway bridge.

Rob trips and falls rolling over. As he hits the ground everything seems to shake. A passing empty car window springs into a mass of atomised glass and reforms. He rolls over at increasing speed between moving cars, then gets up quickly to his feet and speeds away moving even faster.

He runs over the roof of a car that is speeding along backwards in the slow lane.

He zooms down road after road getting even faster and faster, the camera appears to be struggling to keep up, as we see him zoom off into the distance.

Then as we catch up with him we see that the road is about to run out and a brick wall runs across its width.

As the wall tears towards him he lifts his feet and finds he no longer has to run. He spreads his arms out as he tears through the air, a trail of fire breaks out behind him, he has become a human comet tearing towards his destiny.

He soars across the road in graceful slow motion heading straight for the brick wall.

Then we cut to real time and he blasts straight for it with pulverising gravity.

We cut the picture (the frame before he impacts) and fade up in the smoke filled street. The running man is striding through the smoke, now a giant towering above the crowd.

We cut back to an image of the child in the street. She leans over looks down at her feet and takes a step forward, gingerly as the world moves in reverse she takes one step after the next advancing into the smoke filled street.

David Slade Interview, January 2002

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Clubbed To Death - The Aural Experience

Released in 1996 and re-released in 2003 in Australia, "Clubbed To Death" has become a club classic. Never failing to fill a dancefloor, armed with a multitude of remixes, this club anthem peaked with the inclusion on the Matrix movie and soundtrack in 1999.

Packed with energy, deep rumblings and thumping beats, the breakdown is the standout part. Hauntingly magical, what makes this track is the simplistic piano appegio progression.

Music By Rob Dougan.
Inspired by Yasunari Kawabata, Yasujiro Ozu, Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Rob Dougan published by B.M.G. (U.K.) Ltd.
Sleeve design: Ben Drury & Will Bankhead.
Cover art by Futura 2000 (Detail from "Anatomy Of A Murder").

Clubbed to Death - Compact Disc Experience

(Mo Wax, U.K., 1996)
CD, MW037CD, ISBN# 5 016557 083750

6 tracks, includes:

1. 7:09 "First Mix"
2. 7:26 "Kurayamino Variation"
3. 8:05 "Clubbed to Death" (La Funk Mob Variation)
4. 6:03 "Peshay Remix"
5. 5:52 "Spoon Mix"
6. 5:05 "Clubbed to Death Darkside"

Clubbed To Death - Re-Issue Single

(Cheeky Records/BMG, 2002/3)

5 tracks, includes

1. Radio Edit
2. Rollo's House Mix
3. Point 4 Remix
4. Tom Middleton Remix
5. Hybrid Remix

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rob Dougan

No doubt you've heard his music.

Now hear his name.

Rob Dougan.