Multi-decade journalist Ian Urbina has launched a music project to soundtrack his investigations throughout international waters, what he calls the world’s “last untamed frontier.”
According to Urbina, there are 56 million people who work offshore. However, their work is rooted in a harsh environment that most are unfamiliar with. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who has written extensively for The New York Times and has contributed to The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among others, puts specific focus on the lifestyles led by those working at sea and the underreported crimes that take place. Titled after his book by the same name, The Outlaw Ocean Music Project came to form through a simple premise—to create a musical interpretation of the written work.
What started as a small project with a handful of musicians quickly ballooned to include over 400 artists from 90 different countries. The music spans an array of genres, including hip-hop and jazz, but the majority of contributions come from the electronic dance music world. Louis Futon, tyDi, and Gill Chang are just a few of the artists from the dance music spectrum who have released music in collaboration with The Outlaw Ocean Music Project.
There are two ways the musicians were asked to try to connect with Urbina’s work. The first is from a top-down approach whereby the musicians read his book and write a song based on the “scenes” that evoked the strongest emotions. The bottoms-up approach saw musicians gravitating to the rich sounds of the sea captured in Urbina’s extensive video footage, and utilizing those sounds as the basis for their track. The latter approach is the one Futon took, and fans received a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the producer’s creative process via the project’s trailer.
You can check out all of the music inspired by “The Outlaw Ocean” via the project’s website.