Sam el

Washington, USA

Red Sky Morning


Behind the Music

What inspired me most when developing my tracks for this project was the overall theme of journeys from the book and the human element of these stories at sea, which is what I found to be the most impactfully tangible thing about this project. Overall, I wanted to combine these two concepts to create a narrative of my own that mirrors and is inspired by the vivid stories Ian tells. The titles I used are based on journeys I imagined, as well as a general warning — with my two songs being the actuality of that warning. I opted for this darker approach to my music because, for me, the book really revealed to me the loneliness, anxiety and hopelessness often experienced out on the open seas.

The Outlaw Ocean Project in general has completely changed my perspective of the ocean. In the U.S., the sea is generally thought of as a place to vacation - your whole perception of it is the tiny crust of the beach and one mile of water that you can see in front of you. I rarely ever thought about what happens across that vastness, especially for the countries on the other side of that blue expanse, and the effects that being at sea can have on a person’s mind.

Sam el
About Sam el

Sam Lichtman, known as musical artist Sam el, is an artist from Washington D.C. He dabbles in a wide range of arts from film to podcasting to installation art, but he has been making music since he began doing it for fun with friends in high school. Sam minored in audio technology while in undergrad, but didn't actively start making his own music until after he graduated in 2014. Since then, Sam has been honing his craft, combining a knowledge of music and audio technology.

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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