Just Big Hills

Arnhem, Netherlands

The Frontier


Behind the Music

In the chapter “Jail Without Bars,” the stories of the stowaways thrown into the ocean or hiding for months in harsh conditions just for the small chance of a better life were hard for me to read. I never imagined that there were people out there stuck under ships for months due to money and bureaucratic problems. The chapter transformed my perspective of the ocean from a place of freedom to a place of prison. 

When I go to sea, I find the ocean most beautiful on the days when it is storming. The heavy feelings of the waves and the rainfall on the sea has a calming and soothing effect on me, but it’s certainly also tense when it’s storming. That soothing calmness combined with underlying tenseness felt like the right emotion to convey with my music for this project. The stories reported in Ian’s book are amazing and I hope it brings awareness to a lot of people of what’s going on in our open seas. I hope my music helps elevate these stories to make the reports more immersive for the people reading them.

Just Big Hills
About Just Big Hills

With indie-inspired melodies and trip-hop beat structures, David Berman, aka Just Big Hills, takes his listeners on a journey across themes such as distant travels and scenes of nature. With a journey driven by soporific guitars, mellow and calming synths, and distant and distorted voices, he explores various moods and feelings bound to growth and the urge to take refuge in nature and faraway places.

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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