Sjors Mans

Amsterdam, Netherlands



Behind the Music

When I first listened through Ian’s extensive audio library, one specific clip of a crew chanting and singing aboard their ship immediately piqued my ears. I actually have multiple demos in which I tried to mold the sound with different songs and structures. I ended up settling on using it as a rather haunting background for the track, “Seasickness.” There was something mystically hopeful yet still bleak about the clip. I wanted my listeners to war with that ambiguity as they heard it, in much the same way many of us must deal with the dueling realities of the sea presented by The Outlaw Ocean. I also tried to play with a sense of pressure in my music, both in a physical and emotional way. I wanted to capture the tense atmosphere felt in the rumbling and dark belly of a ship — crafting the rhythm to swiftly move from one ear to the other, just as a vessel might sway along with the tumultuous waves. 

This project is an incredibly refreshing way of combining informative storytelling with the abstract in a way that pulls someone into the narrative, while also tempting them to think and imagine more. The book and music can each stand alone, but when combined, it creates an ultimately rewarding experience that appeals to both the heart and the mind and redefines conventional storytelling. 

Sjors Mans
About Sjors Mans

Amsterdam-based Sjors Mans harbors a broad sense of creativity. Inspired by all forms of art, his musical journey takes him from writing film scores to solo music, ranging from solo piano to ambient soundscapes. Also a frequent collaborator, Mans takes a deep interest in finding common ground between creative minds, and continues exploring across genres and art forms.

Winner of the 2021 Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Innovation in Journalism

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.

Learn More