Joel Havea

Tonga

Mother Moana

Lyrical

Behind the Music

What became clear from reading The Outlaw Ocean is that the ocean is a place of extremes. For some people, it represents freedom, but for others, it’s a prison. It can be a beautiful, pristine environment teeming with life, but it can also be used as a rubbish disposal. It can represent an incredible adventure, but it can also be a monotonous place where every day is the same. These contrasts and the associated themes influenced the lyrics of all the songs I produced, but they come across most potently in “Mother Moana,” “Ebb & Flow,” and “The Outlaw Ocean.”

I read the book and wrote all the songs while I was locked in quarantine at a hotel in Sydney in February, where I literally could not open the window or leave the room for 14 days. Working on this project kept me motivated and sane for those two weeks. 

I was shocked to learn about what happens behind the scenes in the wild west of international waters. The chapters about sea slavery and the blatant destruction of the environment hit me the hardest. These chapters reinforced the point that sometimes humanity has an appalling capacity for shortsightedness and cruelty.

This is a great project on so many levels. I love that music is the vehicle to giving the book more exposure. Music is a more accessible medium for storytelling and raising awareness about critical issues. The stories from The Outlaw Ocean affect us all and they have never been more relevant.

Joel Havea
About Joel Havea

Joel Havea is a songwriter, singer, guitarist and an overall engaging performer whose eclectic style reflects his roots as a true world citizen. Tongan born, Melbourne raised and European-based, the musician has played over 700 concerts in over 20 countries on four continents and has established himself as a fixture on the Australian and European club and festival circuit.

Since 2015, Joel has been playing with his Hamburg based trio, Leo Lazar (Drums) and Arnd Geise (Bass). Both are highly sought-after session musicians whose varied influences of rock, jazz and fusion add another dimension to Joel’s soulful blues and roots songwriting. Having honed their live show over countless European tours, the band is a dynamic force whenever they take the stage. Joel has released three albums and two EPs since 2012, all of which were self-made and self-financed productions released on his own label, “Tastic Records.” His songs have racked up generous radio plays in Europe including NDR Hamburg, BB2, FM4, FluxFM Berlin and Deutschlandradiokultur.

His latest record, ‘Ki ‘a Lavaka,’ was released in April 2020, which for the first time contains musical influences from Joel’s Tongan roots, adding another element to his already unique style. His colourful and diverse background made him an ideal candidate for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. The resulting songs on The Outlaw Ocean EP are a reflection of the book's many disparate themes and Joel's varied and eclectic musical influences.

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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