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Olympic stories: Emerging Icon

City music graduate Edward Bell describes his performance on the Emerging Icons stage on the opening day of London 2012
by Ben Sawtell

nullWhen did you find out that you would be playing at the Olympic games and what was your reaction? I got back from touring with the Stranglers for the support act Mike Marlin and I was sitting in my bedroom thinking, 'what shall I do now?' Before touring the UK and Europe I had made a single with a producer/songwriter friend of mine, Ben Earle. The song turned out to be much better than I expected so I thought I'd release it on iTunes and Amazon mp3.

I also emailed it to the Emerging Icons group, as I know they're good at helping aspiring singer/songwriters and I said 'what can you do with this?' to which I got a reply in the form of an 8am phone call from the founder of the website saying 'come and play at the Olympics!'.

What was the atmosphere like around then Olympic Park when you played? It's hard to define the atmosphere in the Olympic Park without resorting to cliché. It was a roller coaster of emotions. Just kidding, no clichés. The place was packed; Locog planned the Olympic park very well and did an incredible job of managing human traffic.

There was concern that London would retreat to backwards looking nostalgia with regards to the architecture, but there are no Neo-Gothic columns in sight, it's futuristic, sleek, alien and brilliant.

The international mix of the crowd was sensational as well, seeing people dressed in the colours of their flags all together like a giant smorgasbord of happiness, there was a great party atmosphere.

There's lots of talk about support for the next generation of athletes but do we need a similar legacy for young British musicians? I am staggered that the Eurovision Song Contest is the only international competition for musicians on any scale (I don't count the X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent). While there certainly is an interest in finding 'new music' in this country it's very focused on having the right look and sounding fresh or on trend.

It would be fantastic to prepare young musicians of talent from a young age into being as good as they can be, through Government supported channels, a bit like with sport. It's a worthy aim, music at its best is inclusive, emotive and cerebral and children should be encouraged to pursue it.

You've worked with some big names from across the world of music, what has been the highlight of your career so far? Picking out one highlight is tough. Professionally, the highlight is probably when I played the Troubadour (a famous music venue in London's West End) on Valentine's Day a couple of years ago while I was still a student at City. The gig got a fantastic reception and I knew as I performed that I was making a real impact.

Your debut single came out last week, what can people unfamiliar with your sound expect?
People unfamiliar with my sound will hear a natural vocal with a very melodic bit of song writing and a catchy piano-driven chorus. It's about being naive, falling in love, falling out of love, nostalgic remembrances of half-forgotten beaches from adolescent holidays, it's about promises we make which we wish we could keep but can't, it's about mortality and beauty and ritual. You can listen to Edward's music on his Facebook page.

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