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1816 Was A Helluva Year

In 2014, Saar Hendelman and I drew a blueprint of the first phase of American Murder Song‘s music. Unlike the path we’d taken with our previous collaborations, where our songwriting culminated in a single, comprehensive album, we dreamed AMS as an ongoing series of mini albums. Each of these EPs (extended play albums) would explore a unique concept, but all of the songs would collectively build into an overarching picture.

Three years ago, we didn’t know exactly what the world of AMS would look or sound like, but we knew we’d be exploring murder in America in the year 1816. This exploration would extend across four five-song EPs.

I’m happy to share that as of early this week, we finished recording the final EP of this 1816 saga, which is presently being mixed. EP IV. Wake will be available to the world on Valentine’s Day.

As a business, the creation of these four EPs was a commitment that Saar and I made not only to ourselves, but to the generous folks who believed in our vision enough to loan us the needed funds to launch the AMS brand. As a creative endeavor, we tromped across new musical terrain, arranging songs with fifes and shape note choirs and exploring murder stories through kid songs, drinking songs, family songs, and, with the upcoming EP, work songs.

On EP IV. Wake, we’re also attempting to tackle some of the uglier and more sensitive realities of that era of American history, namely slavery and manifest destiny.

Our training in the world of music for independent film has come in handy with AMS—i.e. we’ve learned how to work swiftly and cheaply. In indie movies, producers never seem to set aside adequate funds for music production. On The Devil’s Carnival: Episode One, for example—a musical, where fifty percent of the movie is sung—by the time we got to post-production, there was only enough left in the budget to pay for one day of instrument tracking. With the music of AMS, our recording schedules have been way more reasonable, but we’ve still been able to produce our goods at an impressive rate.

EP IV. Wake is a mix of remote and in-studio recordings, which included flute, tuba, and the tracking of a live gospel choir.

In March of last year, we launched AMS with the debut of a YouTube trailer. Since then, with the release of the forthcoming EP, we will have produced twenty songs, over fifty videos, and completed a thirty-five city tour. 1816 was indeed a helluva year.

For those of you interested in experiencing the complete American Murder Song journey, we’ve created a three-disc, limited-edition box set. The box set includes a documentary, which is aptly titled “A Blood Traveler’s Journey: Year One”. To order the AMS box set, visit:

The end of every journey is bittersweet, even if that journey is merely a chapter. These feelings hit me hard this past Monday as Saar and I recorded the final music of EP IV.

As we’ve done with each American Murder Song EP, Saar and I recorded our vocals in the same room, at the same time. This approach creates some issues with sound bleed, but it also produces an energy and interplay that probably wouldn’t happen if we were sequestered in private, soundproof isolation chambers. This joint-singing approach was born both from creative exploration as well as financial limitations.

On Monday night, we squeezed into a cramped makeshift vocal booth at mixer Cedrick Courtois’ home studio. The booth was a veritable fort of curtains and cables. We hugged each other and sang the last words of 1816. The words were the chorus to the final song of the album, “I’m Always Walking As Somebody Else”.

I’m thrilled to share the end result of this 3-year mission with all of you on Valentine’s Day. As always, if you can, please support the project by purchasing a music download or one of our nifty box sets. Thank you all for your love and support. Murder! Murder!