Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Before William Orbit made his reputation fusing orchestral strings with 21st century beats, Rob Dougan exploded onto the UK dance music scene in 1995, breaking the mould and transcending musical genres.
Through experimenting with gloriously moody and innovative tunes, namely the 'Clubbed To Death' single (released through Mo' Wax in 1995), Rob has received critical acclaim and a global (albeit underground) following. According to the NME, Rob has mastered 'the sort of pretension-free soundclash that gives stirring widescreen ambition a good - no - great name'.
Rob has worked with the likes of Andrea Parker and Nick Cave, and his music has appeared on the soundtracks of French arthouse movie 'Clubbed To Death', and the Hollywood blockbuster, 'The Matrix'.
Rob is set to consolidate his reputation as one of the foremost musical
innovators of the 21st century when he releases his album 'Clubbed To Death',
through Cheeky Records in 2002.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, his parents only had three records in their music collection, 'Mack the knife', Beethoven's 'Eroica', Ennio Morricone and "something horrible" by Cleo Laine. It was in his mid-twenties when working as a barman, that he first met with Rollo(now giant producer with Faithless and Dido), and they got a record deal at small OZ label, 'Roo Art'. But before they released anything, Rollo felt home-sick and Rob returned with him to London. Dougan had also just been kicked out of the Acting Academy for " a destructive break-up".
In 1991, Rollo and Rob reworked Franke's 'Understand this groove' for the first 12" on Cheeky Records. The label 'Cheeky' was set up by Rollo at this time, and since then has produced many great artists, namely Dido, Skinny, Pauline Taylor and of course Faithless and Rob Dougan. Their recording studio was at Swanyard which has since ended. Rob's first job in the UK was in a Jeans store but he was soon on to bigger and better things as a dance artist.
By the following year, Rob had worked with the
likes of Judge Jules and his music was dance-orientated, like Rollo. Rob &
Rollo were soon known as 'Dignity' or 'Our Tribe' and did many remixes
between the years of 1992 and 1996 and Rob had set up his own label RDR(Rob
Dougan Rollo) and OTM(Our Tribe Management)at Hooj Studios.
Due to poor management, Cheeky Records needed help from now sister label, Champion, and at this moment, Rob and Rollo met Kristine W. They made the very popular dance single, 'Feel What You Want' which is still being played and re-released to this day. The album, 'Land Of The Living' was produced mostly by Rollo and Rob, and released in 1997 comprising of about 11 house tracks, mixed with cool, soothing vocals.
In 1995 Rob decided to go on his own and style
his own brand of music. In December 2001, Rob commented to the site that he "didn't
really care if it was popular or accepted", he believed only Mo'Wax would
release Clubbed To Death. However, this song has taken the world by storm, ever
since its release, and it is a very hard-to-find record. It has been used countless times through Television, Cinema and Radio promotions.
It was used best to advertise,
'Caffrey's - A Storm Brewing' campaign and in the Matrix film in 1999. Many people
ask 'what is that song?' , 'who is it by?', and if you're reading this, then you're
in luck. It was then released the following year, in 1996, in Australia with the
same mixes yet with different artwork and in a jewel case than the UK sleeve.
The Mo'Wax label manager, James Lavelle(one half of UNKLE) liked the record so much, he commissioned a follow-up, named 'Clubbed To Death II'(only available on Cream Live 2CD and perhaps some 12" bootlegs). Sadly, however both the ideas of Dougan and Lavelle clashed and 'Furious Angels'(originally made in 1996) failed to be released on Mo'Wax.
The track 'Clubbed to Death' was the one that launched Dougans ambition to make his own album, and at first this was not as easy as one would think. "When I first started recording it no one wanted to pay for even a 40-piece string section and I would pay for those string sections myself, which kind of financially crippled me" says Dougan to IGN , the price for doing what he believed in was indeed steep and often record labels would fail to compromise to his demands for a full orchestra.
The track even inspired Yaulande Zaubermann to create a film about the club scene in Paris, France. The movie was called 'Clubbed To Death(Lola)' and starred Eloude Bouchez.
Then in 1998, he developed the haunting 'Furious Angels' single, with mixes from Rollo and Midfield General. It continues a theme from Clubbed To Death but with vocals from Rob. Music Week called it a "true club masterpiece". The lyrics in this and all other tracks on the album are intense and deep. He claims that he "really had to fight to get it released", and that it was " a very personal thing" for it to be released. Two singles in 6 years might not seem prolific, but the album was supposed to be released the following month with 'Driving', but with lack of funds, Cheeky went bankrupt. Also, Rob had to take time out from completing the album to do some requests, such as productions with Kylie and remixes for Sting and Moby.
The Matrix movie used 'Clubbed To Death' in 1999, and this was the moment that people took more notice of 'Rob D.'.
BMG bought Cheeky Records, and the rights for Rob's tracks and a contract to last till 2005, and soon his album was getting air-play on LA-based station, KCRW, Los Angeles. Much of Rob's material has been unreleased such as his track with Nick Cave and Kylie, "Soon", and the remix of a Sting song that Sting was upset about. Apparently the record company loved it as Rob described it as "very dramatic, like 1930s Wuthering Heights".
In June 2002, Rob Dougan reached No.24 in the UK charts with the re-release of 'Clubbed To Death', this track also spent five weeks at the top of Pete Tongs Friday chart. Although the stunning debut album 'Furious Angels' didn't make too much of an impact on the UK charts, it doesn't mean it was a poor album. Quite the opposite, it is heart-racing from start to finish. The Sunday Telegraph said " It doesn't half make the hairs on your back stand up." Ministry of sound called it "pretty unmissable". It took Rob the best part of six years to make the ground-breaking record which included an 84-piece orchestra and a 40-piece choir. Its spine-tingling tracks range from the bitter despair of 'Nothing At All' to the uplifting 'One and the Same(coda)'.
Rob Dougan also recorded a track for a sequence in the Matrix Reloaded, in the Chateau which he suitably titled 'Chateau'. It was written and produced by Rob and the orchestra recorded at the world famous Fox Newman Scoring Stage, where composers such as John Williams have recorded many scores for films. This was the first time Rob had ever scored to images and tells of the professional creative side of developing the track, "with my foot I'd press play on the DVD and with my hand I'd press play on the computer". This track was a massive success and is often used today in promos on television.Updated: July 13 2006
Rob is currently working on his second album, along with two other orchestral projects and robdougan.org is fortunate enought to get direct updates on its progress from time to time.