There’s something inherently calming about Francois and Atlas Mountains. The band's dreamy melodies are a mix of indie folk with splashes of electronic synth and influences of African percussion. The majority of songs are in French, but you don’t need to know the language to appreciate Marry’s smooth vocals and sophisticated melodic arrangements.
Marry is the voice and heart of the band, while the “Atlas Mountain” part of the equation compromises Scottish keyboardist Gerard Black and musicians Amaury Ranger and Pierre Fantôme.
Speaking to us before the band's coming appearance at So Frenchy So Chic in the Park, Marry says its fourth album, Piano Ombre, which was released in March, was influenced by the outdoors, and the exploration of his surroundings in the South West of France.
“I really enjoy the seaside, but the main interest for me in that part of France was to walk through the forest, particularly this large forest with very straight and tall pine trees,” he smiles.
“I think a lot of the peacefulness there is reflected on the album, with all the piano and more rhythmic songs and a lot of songs have woody sounding instruments.”
The album’s cover artwork depicts this serene forest scene, and the sounds of fire crackling, crickets chirping and branches swaying can be heard washing in and out of the record. The band tries to spend time outside the studio, having bonfires on the beach and revelling in their surrounds. Marry says it’s experiences like this which make for some of the better memories when traveling together on tour.
“When we’re doing festivals we all go and play football together and go and see other bands. It’s a really good group," he says. "I was really careful with choosing band members, as these are people I feel close to and I like the way they see the world."
“When recording, they bring a lot of the melody arrangements and all the rhythm, the muscle and the punch, but I have to charm them first. I have to make sure they like the riff and the melody and feel attracted to it to make them want to play it.”
Since the release of Piano Ombre the band has been touring non-stop across Europe and will continue playing shows until coming to Sydney in January for So Frenchy So Chic in the Park.
Marry never takes the opportunity to play live for granted and is constantly surprised every time Francois and Atlas Mountains performs.
“I’ve got a very curious mind, I’m like one of those fishes that have been swimming in the tank then a second later they can’t remember what has just happened, so I’m still always surprised by everything that happens on stage,” he says.
“Every night it feels new and we still find ways to extend the songs and play them in a different way, which is probably why I enjoy music so much. The best bit is being on stage and being at the core of the music, the eye of the storm. It’s a good feeling being at the heart of that and experiencing those moments.”
Francois and Atlas Mountains will play So Frenchy So Chic on January 17 2015 at St John's College in Camperdown.