Cincinnati, USA

Ten Voices


Behind the Music

“Sea Slavery” is one of the most heartbreaking chapters in the book. The story of Lang Long, a guy who is just trying to do what he needs to do to support his family, is particularly hard to read. It is horrifying to think that Long’s captors take advantage of his innocence and naiveté to dehumanize and break him to the extent that he will never be the same again. The hardest pill to swallow is that Long is only one example of the many people trapped in this system — a system in which slavery, or indentured servitude, seems to have somehow become neccessary to sustain the fishing industry as the world demands cheaper products faster.

Being from Ohio, slavery in the fishing industry reminds me of how the United States cotton industry used slaves to keep it afloat. In the history of human civilization, slavery is certainly nothing new. But it’s crazy to think that from my comfortable home, I can drive five minutes to the nearest grocery store and pick up a can of tuna or frozen filet for a buck or two, not knowing that the hidden cost of this convenience could be slavery that is taking place at this very moment. Before reading “Sea Slavery,” I thought that eating fish was my cleanest alternative to meat. But now, I know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The issues that Ian writes about are often out of sight, out of mind for many people like myself. Although I am extremely grateful to be a part of this project, I am equally grateful that Ian’s reporting has woken me up to these harsh realities. I haven’t fully figured out how my music will fit into The Outlaw Ocean world, but I’m excited to find out. Ultimately, I hope that my music will convey the book’s emotional truths and make listeners feel connected to the souls of the people whose stories are sampled in the work.

About WHY?

Yoni Wolf has spent the last two decades traveling the remote sonic terrain where underground hip-hop, avant-pop and psych-rock meet. Some of his most compelling and critically-praised musical experiments have been issued under the moniker WHY?, but Yoni has been involved in various other freewheeling music projects, including Yoni & Geti and the seminal cLOUDDEAD. In addition to songwriting and performing, he also works as a producer and mixing engineer on other artist's projects.

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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