TF Archives

The Ivan Special

Author: Dean Millson
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
For someone that has been such an integral part of the Australian dance music scene for pretty much as long as there has been one, it's a little surprising that hasn't had the opportunity to chat to Ivan Gough - so late one night between studio sessions, in Melbourne's famous Lygon Street, I caught up with Ivan for a chat and a Slice of Pizza to try and set the record straight.

By the end of that pizza - which by no co-incidence was called an 'Ivan Special' (since he's been coming to 'Universal Pizza' for almost ten years he's earned the right to his own pizza) - I'd not only found out a fair bit about Ivan Gough but had also been treated to a short lesson in the history of Progressive House in Australia.

With formalities out of the way (and the pizza ordered) we talk a little about where Ivan's interest in electronic music first grew from.

"Well I was always interested in electronics and in 1986 I bought my first synth - a Roland Alpha Juno 1, and that pretty much started me off buying and selling synths and musical gear which I've been really doing ever since!"

"In the early eighties, post disco, there wasn't really that much dance music around - it was hard to find."

When I pry for some of the music that he was into then he fires back tracks like Fade to Grey by 'Visage' or Vienna by 'Ultravox',

"and also the theme to Chariots of Fire! I remember I was blown away when I first heard that and I just kept playing it and playing it on my record player."

Ivan was introduced to house music at Melbourne club 'The Underground' and it was here that he really began to get hooked.

"John Course was the first DJ with upfront music. He had all of the new records every week," says Ivan.

It was not long after that he began to realise he would much prefer to be writing and playing music than holding down a 'real' job. In 1991 he started Djing at 'Area' (a club in outer Eastern suburb Croydon),

"I wanted to work and play anywhere so I could give up my full time job."

It was around the same time that a young DJ from the UK called Sasha played in Melbourne for the first time (at Shy Nightclub) - bringing with him his own sound of 'Trance mixed with US Garage Dubs'. It was the beginning of what Dom Phillps would eventually go on to label 'Progressive House' in his famous Mixmag article ('Which I believe I still have lying around somewhere').

So what was 'Progressive House' back then I asked-

"Perhaps an early example was 'Stella' by 'Jam & Spoon'. But back then it was easier to classify - things are too fractured these days to fit easily into any category."

Keep in mind that all through this, Ivan was still playing with synths and starting to write music of his own and it wasn't long before something broke through.

His first release was a remix of a Pendulum track called 'I need you'. It was picked up by Sasha, John Digweed and Paul Oakenfold.

"I was down at DMC and someone played it for me on a radio mix that they had recorded - that was all I needed to spur me on to continue doing this. I got a chance to chat to Paul (Oakenfold) years later and he told me how much he was really into the track."

The success of this remix lead to other remixes for UK label 'Positiva'.

Ivan's first original release was a 1997 collaboration between himself and Mark DiCristo (now part of Highland) as 'Traveller In Motion' titled 'Believe'. It was a huge success and was signed that year to the Ministry of Sounds 'Trance Nation' compilation.

It was about this time that he started running the DJ course at DMC in Melbourne where he met Phil K, Gab Oliver, Ozzie LA and Andy Page. Ivan, Phil and Andy (under the guise of 'Free Radicals') went on to produce what might well be Australia's first breaks track. Ivan was also working with a fledgling Melbourne producer by the name of Luke Chable and they released probably his most successful release to date Traveller presents Quest<