In the Press
World Economic Forum
By pairing two types of creators – a journalist and a musician – around content that is urgent, dramatic, and global, the outcome is music that is tied to something much deeper: a collection of at-sea issues that connect us all.
The Los Angeles Times
The only way to better govern this offshore frontier, and to counter the human rights and environmental problems occurring out there, is to shine a continuous light on them. And for that, journalism – with an assist from music — has an urgent role to play.
The Outlaw Ocean Music Project is a series featuring original music from a number of ambient, hip-hop and EDM artists. The series features music from dozens of artists from all over the globe, including Dday One, Chromonicci, Trifonic, who explain the inspirations behind their songs, which contain snippets of field recordings captured during the course of [the] reporting for the project.
San Francisco Classical Voice
Urbina uses music…as a mnemonic device to help him capture a feeling of a certain moment or place…He’ll relisten to that music and the associations and ambient emotions it triggers will transport him back to that experience…It deepens the storytelling experience. Musicians and journalists are both storytellers — one using sound, the other leveraging words…[With] that kindred connection in [The Outlaw Ocean Music Project]…you can feel the mood of uncertainty and foreboding on the boat’s bridge as a ‘way to access and capture the culture of [this] place.' Over 400 musicians from more than 60 countries have translated his stories into music that is heard by millions globally. Several of the musicians told me contributing to the project has widely expanded their audience reach as previously-unknown-to-them bloggers write about their music as well as add it to their streaming playlists.
Good music and independent, critical journalism are two of the things that are most important to me. The Outlaw Ocean Music Project combines both. A great and important idea in turbulent times, where alternative facts seem to be completely legitimate.
Every place marches to its own beat. For musicians on the move, the mantra is: Stop. Listen. And take note...Learn how musicians are using field recordings...to raise awareness of lawlessness at sea.
The Sound Sniffer
The Outlaw Ocean Music Project has been featured extensively in The Sound Sniffer. Click here for full coverage.
Like a hidden undercurrent beneath the surface of the ocean... much like the sea, [the music] is wonderfully unpredictable. Despite this, there’s an order to it, an inherent cohesion that also rings true of the ocean that inspired the song; whilst the waves cannot be predicted, the tides can and similarly the track has an inherent sense.
Brightest Young Things
[The Outlaw Ocean Music Project] is a curated sonic experience that tells a story in and of itself...At its core, the Outlaw Ocean Music Project is meant to push the boundaries of human creativity while also helping raise awareness about the daunting challenges faced by those whose livelihoods are tied to the sea. The project intends on releasing a new music throughout the year; although it’s unclear when the next drop will be, I’m excited to continue navigating what they’ve already shared. This is a soundtrack I can definitely get behind.
The Friday Dish (The Emerson Collective)
...Movies can have soundtracks; why can't books? Whence The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, a soundtrack in collaboration with more than 300 artists...Ian Urbina created a library of audio samples — both ambient and dialogue — from video captured while reporting the book.
Surviving The Golden Age
During the single, 'Adelaide’s Voyage,' you can hear a woman speaking under the string and synth-filled instrumental. The concept gets you to listen but the track’s catchy instrumental hook is what keeps you coming back.
The Nocturnal Times
Petey was able to flip tapes of journalistic research for the book to make them two house tracks: 'Peaceful Protest' ... tells a story about conducting a peaceful protest and the instrumental provides uplifting energy with the piano chords and vocal chops that certainly would inspire someone trying to make their voice heard or to go and make their voice heard. 'Green Peace' has a really nice tech house progression and grooving bassline throughout. Petey went above and beyond in making the instrumental work alongside the recording to tell a dramatic story.
Wilczynski recently dropped the 'Raider Of The Last Ark' EP, which is based on an extremely exciting concept: For the five tracks Wilczynski was inspired by the book 'The Outlow Ocean'...to help to turn journalism and literature into music. Wilczynski based his EP on the book chapter of the same name, which deals with 'how banks and insurance companies carry out piracy on a different level.' Exciting thing, check it out.
In January, several releases were released as part of 'The Outlaw Ocean Music Project', which combines music with independent, critical journalism. Releases of Handbook, chromonicci, Joe Corfield and various others were released. Now the project is going into a second round and whoever was in charge of the musical direction is showing a lot of taste in choosing the producers involved.
The core of this project stems from the fact that musicians and journalists are both storytellers. One uses sounds, the other leverages words. The Outlaw Ocean Music Project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of such creators. In combining their mediums, these narrators have conveyed emotion and a sense of place in an enthralling new way. The result is incredible. It’s amazing to hear the amount of diversity in all of this music, with each artist contributing their own piece of ingenuity to the powerful stories of ‘The Outlaw Ocean.’
Esteemed Italian, crossover classical pianist and composer, Olivia Belli is often compared to some of the most virtuosic composers...she is collaborating with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Ian Urbina on his project, The Outlaw Ocean Music Project.
During EarthxFilm's 50th Earthx2020 virtual programming series, Ian Urbina joined an esteemed panel for a discussion called 'Ghost Fleet + The Outlaw Ocean: Documenting The Intersection of Environmental and Human Exploitation on the High Seas.'
Frequency Horizon Podcast
Perhaps the only thing more surprising than discovering someone’s cracked the code on the high seas underworld, is finding out the same guy just dropped an overwhelming body of ambient, dubstep, drum n’ bass and house music – as part of the same endeavor…an incredible milestone in modern journalism and audio production.
In a time of difficulty and fear, it’s important to draw on the pleasures of life. The Outlaw Ocean project combines two of the biggest - music and nature. Hundreds of musicians from around the world have created songs and sounds to accompany Ian Urbina's New York Times best-seller The Outlaw Ocean, a journey across the world's oceans that looks at the problems and issues that can be found at sea.
Ja Gurl TV
Urbina collaborated with a diverse array of cutting-edge music artists to create original songs not only inspired by 'The Outlaw Ocean,' but that use field recordings captured by Urbina in the course of his reporting as source material. The result is an incomparable body of music whose unusual textures and rhythms are built from everything from machine-gun fire off the coast of Somalia to chanting captive deckhands in the South China Sea.
Ocean Impact Podcast
The Outlaw Ocean is arguably the most thorough account to date of the seedy side of ocean life. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than discovering someone’s cracked the code on the high seas underworld, is finding out the same guy just dropped an overwhelming body of ambient, dubstep, drum n’ bass and house music – as part of the same endeavor.
Nordic Music Review
In recruiting artists from around the world, the project conscripted an army of cultural diplomats who are talking, in their own language of music, about the weighty concerns facing this offshore realm and the millions of people who work or depend on it.
Nox Vahn is now headfirst into his second year under his new moniker. He rang in 2020 with... The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, inspired by author Ian Urbina.
Ocean Impact Podcast
This book takes people into this uncharted, unruly world of high seas and it is ‘un-put-downable.’ The stories in this book will make you realize how implicit many of us are in these horrible human and environmental abuses that are taking place on the ocean every single day...people need to know about this…when a book like this comes it generally creates a shockwave and it just goes to show your point about how necessary it is to support this type of journalism…
The Sound Sniffer
The innovative dynamic of this project and it’s ability to attract intrigue (especially mine) is totally groundbreaking. Fusing the power of music creators and the world of journalism together – the project successfully draws the listener’s attention out of the streaming platforms and onto a larger movement outlining important global issues.
Nordic Music Review
Miscél gently fuses together piano, beats and audio from the book in a way that is really listenable and engaging. There is nothing too jarring or dominant sounding in the release, I guess he’s trying to convey the vastness of the oceans and the small part that we play in it.
The music is based on the book, The Outlaw Ocean, which uncovered some of the most incredible, unseen acts and the people acting upon them on both sides of the coin…that happen out in international waters way out of sight and way out of mind...this is such an incredible combination of music and story and current events…such an amazing parallel process…the project is highly immersive you feel like you just experienced this amazing emotional trip…
T.H.E. Music Essentials
In combining their mediums, these narrators have conveyed emotion and a sense of place in an enthralling new way. The result is a captivating body of music based on The Outlaw Ocean reporting...These artists have taken a real leap of faith in lending their creative capabilities to help spread this message, try something new and support this journalism.
A soundtrack format inspired by the book 'The Outlaw Ocean,' a series of stories as heartbreaking as they are revealing by the writer and journalist…[is] a slap of reality, an amalgamation of feelings that spring from understanding pain...The book itself is not so much a complaint as a confirmation of something that is happening around us and that is totally unknown to the vast majority of society...the beauty of [the] music hides horror…[the music] is for everyone, beautiful, painful, and above all its powerful message full of reality and the reflection to which it invites us…
Green Radio Hour
In combining their mediums, these narrators have conveyed emotion and a sense of place in an enthralling, new way. The result is a captivating body of music based on The Outlaw Ocean reporting.
Some of the most powerful sound clips included in the tracks include an Indonesian woman crying at sea and parts of a speech on climate change hosted on a Greenpeace ship near the Arctic. Each piece of music therefore encompasses a backstory on a particular issue and the need to stop environmental lawlessness and human rights abuses.
The Pulitzer Center
Spanning numerous genres, from electronic and ambient to classical and hip hop, the music seeks to capture the emotions and raise awareness of these critical offshore issues.
In the song "Help Us," we hear the composer [Philip G Anderson] on the piano, Laura Masotto on the violin and Magdalena Sustere on the cello. From the album, we recommend the song, "Trafficked," which is accompanied by a documentary short film that gives a snapshot of crimes in the ocean.
Watson and other artists have been invited to interpret their feelings in relation to the journalist's work using a sound file [from the reporting] that was made available to all of them. Vince Watson's album "Hope" was the product of his inspiration.
It's not the soundtrack to a film this time, it's a soundtrack to a book...All of this fueled the music on this EP which hopefully helps to shed more light on this important subject.
The album is a departure from Marco's signature style and reflects the introspetion, emotion and ultimately HOPE of his lockdown experience. Mixmag caught up with him to talk about some of the inspirations and processes behind creating this heartfelt ode to the oceans.
The Outlaw Ocean Music Project leverages the power of music to put a spotlight on the immediate need for engagement and stewardship of our collective resource, the ocean...The results have been nothing short of amazing, as time and again the critically important work of The Outlaw Ocean Project catalyses some truly stunning works of electronic music ranging from downtempo to ambient, indie electro, and post-rock.
Beat for Beat
The idea [of The Outlaw Ocean Music Project] is to create not only a soundtrack for the book, but a new way to report your investigations through music. This attracts and raises awareness of new audiences and has also become an undisputed success.
DJ Victor Lou teamed up with artists from around the world to help tell these stories in a form of songs. Overcoming barriers, he was invited to participate in one of the biggest projects in the international history of electronic music.
El Sol de Mexico
Eight electronic, Mexican artists decided to take part in a global collaboration focused not only on producing rich beats, but also promoting ocean awareness...This type of journalism is already so impressive without music. Music only adds the finishing touches to create an even bigger impact.
Gazzetta del Sud
The result of the collaboration with Ian Urbina is “The Ocean Suite”, five tracks very beautiful, intense, moving, that deeply disturb, that transmit you so much sadness but also so much sweetness.
Jesse Brown's recent album, The Magic Pipe, as part of a project inspired by The Outlaw Ocean book has found success. The idea was for the musical community to come together with an investigative journalist, Ian Urbina, for a common goal of making the world a better place...by expanding the reach of important work to bring about positive change.
Jaw-dropping…compositions, which includes audio and video samples from Urbina's time at sea — including gunfire recorded off the Somali coast and the voices of sailors taken captive on the South China Sea — mixed in with ambient sound textures to amplify the cinematic scope of the project...aiming to raise awareness of the urgency of those situations and hopefully incite change.
Nordic Music Review
As part of journalist Ian Urbina's Outlaw Ocean Music Project, ...over 400 musicians from more than 60 countries have translated his stories into music...deep stuff, but presented in a non-too-taxing manner. It makes for...quite relaxing,..heartfelt.. interesting listening.
The Outlaw Ocean Music Project started out small..with a handful of musicians [and] has quickly ballooned to include over 400 artists from 90 different countries..[who] stepped up to soundtrack..award-winning journalist Ian Urbina's critical investigations highlighting human rights and environmental crimes taking place on international waters.
More than 400 artists originating from more than 60 countries have been producing diverse albums in their own musical styles, ranging from electronic to classical, to ambient and hip-hop music. The result is an extremely captivating archive of music, serving as the soundtrack to tales of that lawless kingdom that few of us knew existed.
Frequency Horizon Podcast
[The Outlaw Ocean Music Project] just doesn't stop releasing fire tracks...and it's all for a good cause.
The idea behind The Outlaw Music Project is so unique...On the simplest level though, this is simply a captivating collection of inspired songs, which range from electronic and ambient to classical and hip hop.
Victor Lou is one of the few Brazilian artists on [The Outlaw Ocean Music Project] and was inspired by the recordings of the five-year investigation to create three new tracks, "Crimes", "The Lights of Athens" and "Special".
Breaking down all these barriers, the artist Victor Lou, who was invited to participate in the project "The Outlaw Ocean Music Project", one of the biggest projects in the history of international electronic music, opens three songs today.
These are productions that vary between different styles, including electronic music. The project unites journalism, music and awareness. It is worth mentioning that part of the revenue from the songs will go to the financing of reports like this, which put their finger on the wound and go deeper into the reality that not everyone is willing to dive into.
With projects like [The Outlaw Ocean Music Project], Brazilian electronic music gains even more space in the national and international scene, as it mixes journalism and music, something never before seen in Brazil.
96.4Spice FM Bangladesh
This project speaks to the power of creativity while also raising awareness about the daunting challenges faced by those whose livelihood are tied up to the sea. Each track inspired by the book written by Ian Urbina embodies a backstory, an issue, a powerful visual all spreading the same message about the ocean. This is the very first time when a book is having its own soundtrack taking people deep into its theme. The journalist Ian Urbina beautifully illustrated the deep dark blue secrets of the ocean through book and the music project which is a collaboration with various musicians among the world.
Tome to the Weather Machine
What makes Urbina’s project so interesting is that all of the music is inspired by the ocean, [his] reporting, and 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.
Like a Pied Piper of the discotheque, Alan Braxe is adept in composing, producing and remixing those anthemic, high-quality pieces iced in his dreamy glaze. But, for latest EP, Silence At Sea, he is swapping dry land for the fluid rhythms of the planet's water in a luminary challenge. Alan Braxe has displayed a distinctive side to his repertoire that still takes the soul, just like days gone by in our youth, willingly to another level, but highlighting the care we must take of our oceans.
In the EP, 'Mares Sin Ley,' a project by Cheap Monk ..made in collaboration with The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, soothing, lush sounds, ambient effects and Boom-Bap rhythms...offer a blissful and emotive sonic reflection...A delicate arrangement of synths and piano...express loneliness and melancholy.
In Nau Leone's new EP, 'Tragedy of the Commons,'...we find three songs of pure electronics...it's brilliant.
The result is an inspired and fascinating work with some surprises, even for those who know Celletti well. An EP that perfectly highlights the profound contrasts observed and witnessed by Urbina and the different human stories he captured.
The Brazilian artists, which includes Kumbhaka, Victor Lou, Gabriel Evoke and Rooftime, produced varied musical interpretations, but shared a common goal by creating content that tells important stories. “Producing music for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project was a challenging, though exciting, task. I tried to create an album where each track was connected and, thus, a story emerged, with a beginning, middle and end ”, said Gabriel Evoke, who released music in August 2020.
In The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, Ian Urbina and his collaborators showcase the continued need for stewardship and public scrutiny..of the world's oceans. [The artists]..craft atmospheric soundscapes,..soothing, lush sounds..and deliver impeccable production aesthetics and undeniable groove.
The result of this project is an impressive collection of compositions inspired by the sea, its characters, chronicles and narrations which represents a radical and original way to do journalism and music at the same time.
Nordic Music Review
The most recent wave of The Outlaw Ocean Music Project,..including music from Nordic contributors Mats Bergström and Sam Lux, ...features some intricate finger picking on an acoustic guitar...and unusual sound effects...As usual, the quality of these recordings is very high.
As part of The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, French DJ Seekat joins hard-hitting, American journalist, Ian Urbina..on an ethereal journey that takes you around the world..[The music] is..powerful,..inspired songs..[with] a higher purpose, a deeper meaning.
During the days of the lockdown, this was my job: to create new compositions and blend them with the sound of the waves, the sound of the ships' irons, the voices of fishermen and of Urbina himself.
Ray Ben Rue, with his EP 'Makeshift Raf' and dozens of other artists around the world recorded songs inspired by the work, a great reporting that takes place on the high seas ... "I immersed myself in the book and in the material provided by the project and I tried to get through the atmosphere of the whole story through music. As a result, the songs have the tranquility of life on the high seas, but they also have some tension and melancholy due to the most troubled moments in the book."
"The EP integrates immersive music that takes you sometimes to hectic scenes and others to calmer moments. All of them under the constant presence of the murmur of the water."
Working on The Outlaw Ocean Music Project inspired me to alter the way I write music. The things I read woke me up to a world I never would have known, compelling me to learn and understand more about what is happening on the ocean.
The Sound Sniffer
Since its inception early last year, Ian Urbina’s ambitious collaborative project has brought together some of the world’s most prestigious electronic music producers and classical composers. I was like a child in a sweet shop uncovering my favourites and interviewing the artists responsible for the music.The entire collection is a momentous library of sound, if you dig in deep enough through the catalog, gold is just waiting to be uncovered.
"Stories From the Sea is a collection of ten piano solos and piano-based pieces inspired by chapters of the book. Short passages are quoted here and there, but this album is all about the music and is beautifully done. (...) Great music to raise awareness for a vitally important cause!"
Urbina stresses the existential importance that oceans have; they're the world's trade circulatory system ... His organization works to fill that informative void about oceans with initiatives like “The Outlaw Ocean Music Project,” which uses music to get people attracted to this investigative journalistic work, a reporting that has been joined by more than 480 musicians in 80 countries.
The book was critically acclaimed and heralded for shining a spotlight on the lawlessness at sea...[Now] we want to focus on the corresponding collection of music, and field recordings which have been curated and collated by Ian himself alongside contributions from hundreds of musicians who have attempted to soundtrack the experiences and stories from the book. A unique interaction between music and journalism.
As much as we are devoted to the urgency of these ocean issues, it is clear that our investigations need to reach broad and new audiences to have impact. That’s why we combined our traditional journalism with an experiment in using music to bring people to our work.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Katsaris does many things differently than "classical" pianists (in a double sense of the word)...In March, he published twenty-three lavishly cadencing tearjerkers with titles such as “Sea Sickness” or “The Beautiful Waves”, inspired by Ian Urbina's investigative book “The Outlaw Ocean”, on digital platforms. "I sit down at the piano - and it flows and flows," he says with childishly wide eyes.
Folha da Mantiqueira
"Producing music for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project was a challenging, though an exciting task. I tried to create an album where each track was connected and, thus, a story beginning, middle and an end." said Gabriel Evoke who released music in August 2020. Kumbhaka, who was featured in April 2021, said: "It is an honor for every artist, like me, to be part of such a great project. To have the possibility to work with Ian, with such a large and competent team, it has a very special flavor."
[Matthew Mayer's] "Legal Void" refers to many of the frustrations Ian Urbina experienced with the lack of clear jurisdiction over so much of the world's oceans and how that's taken advantage of in many countries with illegal fishing and other activities. (...) Very highly recommended - all of it (site, book, music, etc.)
Laura Sullivan has created a wonderful group of pieces expressing her feelings about The Outlaw Ocean. (...) Everything from slavery, murder, staggering pollution and illegal fishing to human trafficking often go unreported and undetected in international waterways, so it's fantastic that Urbina is getting the word out in as many forms as possible - his excellent book, hundreds of artists composing music inspired by the book, and other visual media.
[The Outlaw Ocean Music Project] is a beautiful, very powerful project ... a fascinating sort of "musical activism" ... for the artist itself; it's a way of giving back and spreading the message differently.
Deeply emotional and very beautiful... 'Longing' can pertain to many things, but the book often describes the longing for a better life for the people who sign up to be on fishing boats for months and even years at a time when there are very few options to keep themselves and their families afloat financially. The piece is haunting and very expressive, with the sound of the ocean adding atmosphere and context.
"Fifteen artists from nine countries collaborated with Ian Urbina for this creative project, including Seekat... Very committed to the protection of the oceans and the environment, this Mediterranean artist uses her music to draw attention to the subject."
Blue Landscapes: The Seas is an incredible work of art...the music is as moving and as emotional to listen to as the book was to read...'Hopelessness' is very dark and somber... it brings back many of the book's more painful passages and makes them even more vivid.
Global Investigative Journalism Network
Delivering your product through the ears and down to the heart is a more visceral path to get at people, moving them emotionally first and then relying on those emotions to stoke their curiosity so they go find out, 'Why is this called sea slavery?' Or, 'Why does this song have that strange sound in it?' Then on their own accord, with their own agency, they come and read the story. That’s a really effective way to get at people.
The Bermudian artistry featuring Heather Nova, Jude Richardson, Detrivore and Nala Tessloff all produced varying musical interpretations [for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project], but shared a common goal of creating content that told important stories...The project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of such creators.