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World Music Matters

François Marry and the Atlas Mountains

Audio 11:13
Pierre Vallée

François Marry's brand of ethereal Afrobeat-inspired pop has brought him as much success in Britain as in his native France.


François and the Atlas Mountains is one of few French pop bands to have cracked the competitive UK pop scene.

They’re the only French band on the cult indie label Domino (Arctic Monkeys, Anna Calvi), with whom they’ve signed their third and latest album E solo love.

Francois Marry, lead singer and founder of this moveable feast, is of course chuffed.

“The label allows bands to evolve naturally, to be themselves,” he says.

Because being authentic, true to oneself is what really matters for the fresh-faced, quietly-spoken musician.

He admits to being anxious, hates studios and values good friends.

“The world is very different from the way I thought it would be when I was a teenager,” he confides.

Music continues to help him cope with the disappointment of real life, forgetting his troubles by “getting immersed in sound”.

A sound that’s both ethereal yet catchy and which regularly calls on African percussion (songs like Les plus beaux, Edge of Town), particularly the calebasse.

“I have a real fascination for west African rhythms, they’re very haunting. They can sound messy at first because of the polyrhythms but when you get into it, it becomes a language, it’s vibrant and creates a real good feeling.”

His 10 years spent in the UK, particularly in the southern town of Bristol, were formative, and fun.

“I started playing my own shows (there) and felt people were excited. Whereas in France, there’s less of music culture, people don’t go out so much to listen to music.”

The Brit years were far more urban than those spent growing up on the Atlantic coast near La Rochelle. This has had an impact on the songs themselves.

“When I moved to Bristol, I was elated to be away, it was new and exciting, all the topics came from that way of life. I went to clubs in Bristol, I’d never done that before, so a lot of English songs reflect that.”

French, he says, is closer to melancholy.

“If I feel blue, I write in my journal, and I mostly write in French. French has a more melancholic feel.”

Now based in France, he appreciates the space, being able to afford a big place to use as a studio.

“If I can just avoid turning into a moaning old man,” he grins.

François and the Atlas Mountains on MySpace

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