Published Feb 23, 2011Balkhemists A Hawk and a Hacksaw have shown a knack for going back to the future with their transformations of Eastern European folk music, and now they have their own label to help further their ambitions. The band's new album Cervantine is the first release on their recently launched label L.M. Duplication, and the group's Jeremy Barnes (ex-Neutral Milk Hotel and Beirut) couldn't be happier about becoming the master of his own domain.
The duo -- Barnes and Heather Trost -- were previously signed to the Leaf label but mutually agreed to part ways. "It was amicable. They always supported what we did even when we went a little too far into Eastern European folk," Barnes explains to Exclaim! "But it was just getting harder for them and us to make money selling records. I feel like with our music, we just have a ceiling. We don't have ambitions to sell many more records and we're not going to do any of the things that maybe you could do to sell records. I kind of felt that with this ceiling it would make more sense for us to release our own music."
Barnes goes on to say that the label's straightforward and unsexy name is entirely intentional. "I wanted it to be extremely generic. I've been buying a lot of records from the '50s and '60s, and there were a lot of labels that came up and did one or three releases. Even in Albuquerque where we live, you'll see these Hispanic labels with like the address of the office on the back and the artwork is kind of strange and generic. And I started to like the aesthetic of that. Instead of naming it after something cool and wild I'd make it generic that doesn't mean anything."
Barnes says they intend to release projects by other ensembles and may get into reissues as well, but first A Hawk and a Hacksaw are taking it to the stage throughout 2011.
"We're going to be playing along to a film by Sergei Parajanov," he says. "We licensed a film of his [Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors] and we're going to start doing it at festivals. We've done it a few times and it's so nice to be playing live but not be the focal point visually."
A Hawk and a Hacksaw will be touring Europe and the American West Coast throughout the spring and summer, plus make an appearance at All Tomorrow's Parties in Asbury Park, NJ, in September. Canadian dates are likely around that time before they head off to Britain's ATP, which runs from December 2 to 4 and will be curated by former Neutral Milk Hotel bandmate Jeff Mangum.
Head here to view all the band's currently scheduled stops.
Cervantine is out now via L.M. Duplication.