The last few years have seen a lot of great bands emerging from Edinburgh in Scotland. For those of us not very familiar with the city’s pop history (apart from the Shop Assistants), it seems that the Scottish capital is at the forefront of a a new wave of pop. ballboy, Khaya and the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ are just three of the bands that we have heard of, and I’m sure there are plenty more bands just waiting to get some attention. In the middle of all this we find SL Records, home of ballboy, Degrassi, Deus, the Starlets and the now defunct Khaya.

SL Records were actually the offspring of a local radio show, where one of the broadcasters was Ed Pybus, the founder of the record label.

"We were doing a show where bands came in and played live" Ed tells Pennyblackmusic, " At the end of the broadcast (we were only on air for a month), we decided to do something to celebrate. We were going to do a gig, but then someone suggested releasing an album with tracks from the bands that had played on the show, so we did that and that was the start of SL Records.

The album was the compilation CD 'It’s a Life Sentence…', which includes three songs by a very early line-up of ballboy, and which was released in May of 1997. After that Ed released a 7” single by Khaya, a single that he still holds as his favourite SL release…

“Summer/Winter song” was the first single we did, and the first thing we released that got radio play. Hearing BBC Radio One play it in the middle of the day, after playing something like the Spice Girls, knowing millions of people were listening to something that you’d had a part in making, was amazing.

Ed runs the label on his own, although he gets some help from a lot of people.

"I think my flatmates are getting a bit pissed off helping me stuff CDs into envelopes all the time…"

Even though many small indie labels would rather burn in Hell than to sell out to a major record label, Ed sees no wrong in that.

"I would sell it if the offer was right. By that I mean that if they gave us the freedom to carry on doing what we wanted, and allowed the bands to do what they wanted."

So, what about the music scene in Edinburgh? Is it as good as it seems?

"There has recently been a fire in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town that has totally destroyed two of Edinburgh’s live venues, which will be a problem as there are very few decent live venues for smaller bands in Edinburgh, and also a lack of fair promoters, although this is getting better. I think in a city like Edinburgh there’ll always be a certain level of people doing music, but whether it’s better now, I really don’t know.

And for other people who are thinking about starting up their own record label, Ed has some advice…

"It’s easy to start. Making a success of it is a bit harder. If you want to start a record label do it so you can release good music, not to make loads of money. There are enough people out there releasing crap music and making loads of money !"

Finally, I just had to know what the best record ever released was.

"At the moment, it’s 'Black Rider' by Tom Waits. You can listen to it what ever mood you’re in and always end up feeling scared, depressed and a bit confused: everything you need from a great record."
















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