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Levi Strauss and Co. is ready to rock the record business.
In a world first for Levi's, the company's Australian division has formed an alliance with Melbourne-based music marketing company Rodriguez to launch Levity records.
Unveiled in June, Levity is designed as a kick-start for emerging talent in Australia and New Zealand. The label will mentor new bands for six to 12 months, providing funding for the release of an EP, promotion and distribution within Australia and New Zealand before letting them move on to bigger music labels.
"When they were formed is not crucial," says Levi's brand director for Australia-New Zealand, Steve Williams, of Levity's selection criteria. "It could be that they're not currently signed or that they haven't recorded anything; they might have recorded something but not had it released. Or just be a band that we believe is a fit with the Levity and Levi's brands: live bands, indie bands, high energy, real street-focused bands."
First to sign was Kiwi alternative pop rock outfit Cut Off Your Hands, followed this month by Melbourne's Mercy Arms.
Under the Levity banner, Cut Off Your Hands' second EP, "Blue on Blue," was recorded in London in April and released last month. The band is also under a six-month contract to wear Levi's during live performances, images from which appear in a 501 Stay True campaign.
"It's the way that things are going," says bassist Philip Hadfield of his band's deal. "Earning money in a band will be a lot to do, I think, with publishing and aligning yourself with different labels and companies. We saw it as an opportunity to record in London with [Suede producer] Bernard Butler, and we wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise, so we just went with it."
Not only is the label's ideal next band one with a woman in it, Williams says, Levity may also one day develop into a lifestyle brand of its own. "If we ever did jeans or tops with the Levity brand, perhaps the sky is the limit."