VHS Dreams

Hartlepool, England

Final Frontier


Behind the Music

It has always been a subject of much discussion whether art should be political. The reporting of The Outlaw Ocean is as urgent as it is unavoidably political. By bringing journalism and music together, this project gives artists the chance to explore Ian’s reporting and reconstruct it into a different language, a musical one that appeals to an audience that wouldn’t typically read this kind of work. 

Born and bred by the seaside, my first aspiration was to delve into oceanology. Though I have long since abandoned that dream for a life of art, my fascination (and fear) of the ocean never stopped growing. After Ian’s work was brought to my attention, I showed it to my father. Once a sailor and captain of several ships, he told me countless stories that I’d never heard from him before, stories that were sometimes even identical to what I was reading in Ian’s reporting about the lawless seas. The Outlaw Ocean felt very personal to me from the start, but this was the first time that as an artist, I created something that drew direct inspiration from reality—a reality that, until now, remained largely unknown to most of us.

Now that The Outlaw Ocean has brought attention to what life is like on the remote seas, the ways in which our oceanic biome is being damaged, it is up to us to understand the role our actions inadvertently—and advertently—play in the greater scheme of things. The lives of the people out on the ocean and our planet’s well-being are a collective responsibility. Ian’s documenting and reporting have bridged the gap between our personal safe space of ignorance and the reality of what happens “out there.” The reporting must go on.

VHS Dreams
About VHS Dreams

This is an alternate 1999. It is the future that never was. The future that will never be. A future that exists only in dreams caught on VHS — ‘90s trance and drum 'n' bass meets Y2K! VHS Dreams is the alias of U.K.-based, Greek-born, electronic music artist George Dervenagas. Since his life-changing discovery of dance music at the age of 11, Dervenagas has made the curation and creation of voltage-controlled sounds his lasting obsession. Having worked as a DJ for many years, he got his first break as a producer with VHS Dreams' sophomore record "TRANS AM." The album, a revivalist tribute to the dance culture of the ‘80s, became a top-selling success and put the artist at the forefront of 2015's retrowave movement. The release of “TRANS AM” was followed with a two-year string of European performances and millions of Spotify streams. In 2018, VHS Dreams returned with “Lost World,” a sublime, full-length ode to ‘90s ambient house music. As his consequential first exposure to the beauty of electronic sounds reached its 20th anniversary, as well as a new decade, VHS Dreams yet again expands on the stylistics of its trademark nostalgia. Now reflecting on the euphoric innocence and optimism of a bygone Y2K world, his music explores new anthemic heights that reflect upon attitudes towards our own emerging future.

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.

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