Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic

Los Angeles, USA

Blue Landscapes: The Seas


Behind the Music

Hans Christian Andersen once said: “When words fail, music speaks.” Music has always been a storyteller, creating a unique narrative and experience for each listener. This project in particular is a form of marrying sound and musical ideas to storytelling. As such, we wanted our music for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project to help capture the range of emotions one might experience on the vast high seas. Ian’s extensive research and reporting was incredibly eye-opening for us. Before, we’d always thought that the seas were simply the lonely highways for big cargo ships, taking our consumer goods from point A to point B. While we understood piracy and illegal fishing happens across the world, we were naïvely unaware of the extent of crime, slavery and murder supporting these illicit practices.

Nature - whether it’s mountainscapes or seascapes — has always been a huge inspiration behind our work. But the stories of human slavery, piracy, illegal fishing and rescues provide a human element to this music that is visceral. Typically our artistic process involves being in the same space and improvising musical ideas together. Due to the pandemic, we were compelled to stay apart and record separately from our individual recording studios. We tend to thrive with collaborative projects, and Ian has provided an incredibly inspiring backdrop for musical creativity, both dramatically and emotionally. 

Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic
About Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic

The musical partnership of pianist Robert Thies and flutist Damjan Krajacic did not follow an obvious musical path but was borne out of friendship and a desire to find common musical ground and expression. Robert is an active international concert pianist deeply rooted in the Western Classical tradition with interests in European jazz and spontaneous expression. Damjan, born in Croatia, is a musician of eclectic styles whose background spans jazz and Latin jazz, with additional strong ties to the folk music of Eastern Europe.

Damjan and Robert began recording their improvisational sessions, and a sound emerged, as did three albums of music rooted in genuine expressivity. Subtitled “Music from a Quieter Place,” “Blue Landscapes” is music that is deeply meditative, evoking beautiful natural landscapes where one can experience inner peace and tranquility. The music is reflective with splashes of vivid colors over a transparent musical veil. Melodies rise from the moods that the musical backdrop inspires, allowing more active listeners to fill in the musical spaces with their imagination. The acoustic nature of the music gives it an earthly and human quality. “The music of Blue Landscapes is inspired and grounded by our love for Earth’s beauty and all of her natural wonders. It is important to us that the music sounds and feels natural, and so we have avoided the use of electronics.” The ambience created here is rich, introspective, subdued, wistful, peaceful and inspirational.

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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