Always Read The Label: SL Records

"We've had the head of A & R at a major record company calling us asking how we got such good publicity for Dawn of the Replicants' last album!" - Ed Pybus

Feature by Milo McLaughlin | 12 Dec 2006
  • SL Records

SL Records are one of the crown jewels in Edinburgh's somewhat skeletal music scene. Over the last nine years the label has released records from an eclectic batch of superbly idiosyncratic bands including Dawn of the Replicants, Ballboy, Saint Jude's Infirmary and Misty's Big Adventure.

Ahead of their joint Christmas Party with the Scottish Hobo Society, SL's head honcho Ed Pybus told The Skinny how it all began. "Me and a couple of friends who worked at Fresh Air FM (Edinburgh's student radio station) decided to release a CD of some of the live sessions we'd done, and it got good reviews in the NME & Melody Maker. Then we put out the label's first single, 'Summer/Winter Song' by Khaya. John Peel, Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley all played it on air and it was really successful."

Although his student days came to an end, Ed decided to continue with the label "instead of getting a proper job" and luckily SL enjoyed Mr. Peel's continued support. "John played every record we released up until his death and even did an SL Records night on his show with sessions by Ballboy and Degrassi." At first Ed was involved with all aspects of promoting the bands on the label, including acting as tour manager. "I ended up doing a four week tour of America with Ballboy which was great - but when you're driving round the arse end of Birmingham in a van for the fifth time it begins to lose its appeal. I decided to mainly concentrate on running the label, which allowed us to sign more bands, such as Misty's Big Adventure, The Starlets and The Aphrodisiacs."

Misty's are currently creating a buzz with their Franz-baiting single 'The Fashion Parade', however unlike their previous output it's being released on Sunday Best Records rather than SL. "We don't hold bands to long term contracts so if they get offered deals by bigger labels who can give them more publicity that's fine - the point of SL is to put out stuff that otherwise wouldn't be released at all." However, for Ed, selling out just isn't an option. "I'd rather keep it small than sell out to a big record label and have to justify myself to other people. Dawn Of The Replicants came to us after they left EMI despite offers from other labels, because one thing we can offer our bands is complete creative freedom."

Although they've now parted ways with Ballboy, the label has plenty in store for 2007 with new albums expected from the Aphrodisiacs and the 55's, as well as the first single from local nutters Lords of Bastard. First in the pipeline is the new album from Saint Jude's Infirmary, whose song 'Goodbye Jack Vettriano' led to the artist himself appearing in the video (filmed for BBC Scotland's The Music Show), along with another famous fan, Ian Rankin.

That SL can attract the kind of publicity that money can't buy is all down to the consistently high quality of the music they release. "We had the head of A & R at a major record company calling us asking how we got such good publicity for Dawn of the Replicants' last album - they were spending an absolute fortune and not getting as good results as we were - and it was just me and the Replicants' lead singer Paul Vickers making phone calls from the office!"

The SL/Scottish Hobo Society Christmas Party is held at The Bongo Club, Edinburgh on 17 December.