Nala Tessloff

Hamburg, Germany

Where the Water Meets the Sky


Behind the Music

We listened to the field recordings with the book in mind and tried to transform the images that emerged in our minds into compositions and songs. This was a very conscious and direct quest for inspiration, perhaps similar to writing the score for a film, but even more intense. I think music can be a mechanism of storytelling in a more personal way than journalistic writing. Music reaches the listener on an emotional level, in a way that facts alone do not. The idea was to capture emotions evoked by bare facts and real-life adventures, rather than by a fictional or constructed storyline. 

Although we were already aware of some of the problems concerning the ocean before reading the book, reading about it in such an intense and concentrated way was very overwhelming. We were very touched by the authenticity of Ian’s voice samples and used outtake sounds to create beats. As the singer, I also loved combining the whale songs with the crying seagulls. I wanted to sing with them, so I found a melody that captured this feeling of solitude and the overwhelming desire for freedom that the sound of the sea inspires. While reading the book, we greatly enjoyed composing and writing the lyrics from a new perspective. 

Nala Tessloff
About Nala Tessloff

Nala Tessloff is a singer, composer, visual artist and performance artist.

Her work reflects the omnipresent violence that surrounds us — the violence that we suffer as well as the violence we inflict everyday, even unconsciously.

Her lyrics touch upon deeply personal psychological studies and more general issues of humankind — of how we want to live with each other on a planet that seems to be tired of being destroyed by a species that really should know better.

Even if she sometimes paints a dystopian picture, there still is a glimpse of hope shining through her rather grim aesthetic, like an appeal for humanity or for sisterhood, as there is beauty in every downfall.

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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