Montréal, Canada

Untold Stories


Behind the Music

I had always viewed the ocean as a beautiful and tranquil haven — an open expanse of freedom. Reading the stories of the stowaways in “Jail Without Bars” made me realize that the concept of “freedom” could actually become a nightmare. While we are becoming more aware of the environmental crimes happening to the oceans, many of us, myself included, do not think of the crimes against humans that are facilitated by the anarchy of the sea. The struggles and risks that the stowaways went through just to find a better life abroad show exactly how lawless the oceans can be. This reality is heartbreaking. It’s even more saddening knowing their story is just one of many.

After reading the entirety of The Outlaw Ocean as well as watching the footage and listening to the recordings from the field reporting, I knew I wanted to create music that would contribute to a realistic depiction of the ocean. Like the book, these clips were unfiltered and raw, and I wanted to maintain their authenticity when composing my tracks. I wanted to do justice to the story of The Outlaw Ocean. I drew upon emotional and dreamy tones, as well as some more aggressive and somber sounds, to capture exactly what I felt when reading the stories of The Outlaw Ocean.

About Ash

Ash is a multi-instrumentalist and electronic musician from Cairo, Egypt and is currently based in Montréal. He is known for his solo electronic live performances playing with the guitar, keyboard, saxophone, drums, pads and electronic wind instrument. His repertoire can be traced back to his first original track “Lost,” released in 2012, which garnered attention for its intricate fusion of middle eastern and electronic music. In 2016, Ash released his hit “Mosaïque.” The song has amassed over 90 million streams to date and charted in the Top 50 of many countries. Following “Mosaïque's” success, Ash released many more hits such as, “Worlds Apart,” “Give A Little,” “Daydream” and “Dans La Peau,” reaching over 350 million streams on all digital platforms.

Winner of the 2021 Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Innovation in Journalism

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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