In its relatively short lifespan Edinburgh’s Athens Of The North logo has been responsible for releasing an enviable amount of top-end soul, funk and jazz gems on 45 and latterly on LPs. From West Coast super-demanders like the long sold out Bileo and the recent Second Ressurection pairing (which will not be around long) to classics from the likes of Weldon Irvine, Milton Wright and Leroy Hutson, to super obscurities from Sage, Formula I and Fred Williams, you can always ensure that the label curate only the best and present them in a way that reflects the integrity of the music.
Here we talk exclusively to label boss Euan Fryer (DJ Fryer) about the label’s beginnings and his plans for the future.
Soul Brother. What were your main aims when setting up the AOTN group of labels?
Fryer. To put out records I love so they can be enjoyed more widely
Soul Brother. Did you forsee such a rapid turnover of releases and the demand they have created?
Fryer. Well the concept was to sell what had been rare moden soul record not just to soulies but younger people who would consider it disco / 70s soul. Keep a good release patern so people could get enough records together to start playing that sound out without having a spare 80 grand for o.gs (originals)
Soul Brother. There’s a real sense of good design and quality manufacture about the releases – do you think this goes hand in hand with the curatorial aspect of the choices you make in releasing product?
Fryer. Well yes, I would never sell what i would not put in my box, everything has to be right. Well mastered, Cut by someone who knows what I want, pressed at a good plant not the cheapest. The record had to have that feeling in your hand.
Soul Brother. Did you plan on moving into LPs when you started or did the label grow organically?
Fryer. I let the music dictate, when I see something that’s right I do it. I don’t overthink it and stick to “I love that so much I’d like other people to hear it”. It’s hard work and finding people requires a broad skill set: I’m as much a detective as a label owner.
Soul Brother. You’re diversifying the scope of your activities with a punk compilation. You have more soul releases in the works too?
Fryer. Yes i have an Unreleased Rasputin’s Stash LP in the works as well as loads more good singles but you will have to wait a bit to find out what they are.
Soul Brother. Sounds intriguing – thanks Fryer!