He immediately fell in with some of the town’s notable musicians like Rozi Plain, Movietone and My Two Toms before gathering his own gang and forming the Atlas Mountains ensemble.
Since then his gentle songwriting has slowly gathered momentum and now he deftly combines elastic Afro rhythms, striking piano chords and whimsical melodies to create an electronically nuanced sound that openly flaunts his love of English music.
Until recently, the Atlas Mountains have been a loose collective, gradually evolving into a sturdy four-piece, and compelling live proposition. Besides Fránçois, fellow Frenchmen Amaury Ranger, who lends his impressive percussive intuition, and Petit Fantôme, are joined by new recruit Gerard Black, who made a name for himself playing jazz with Bill Wells and Findo Gask.
Fránçois started releasing records on Bristolian label Stitch-Stitch before taking up with much-loved Scottish folk label Fence, finally signing to London-based Domino Records last year, following a well trodden path traversed by the likes of ex-Fencers James Yorkston and King Creosote.
Last night they headlined the Vive la France! 2012 convention in Brighton. PRS for Music’s Jules Parker will attend the convention tomorrow to talk about touring France.
In the meantime, M spent 30 seconds with Fránçois…
How long have you been making music?
I started jamming on the out of tune piano at my house at the age of eight. It took a while to become proper music as no one in my family was a musician, I had to learn by myself.
Mainstream music, being lonely in a city, walking by the sea, longing for the summer.
What process do you go through to create your music?
A lot of walking in quiet places on my own, then bringing the fruits to the rest of the band to make the songs grow.
How would you describe your sound?
Modern and moving.
What would your dream collaboration be?
With Elisabeth Fraser (from Cocteau Twins) on vocals, and Tsegue Maryam Guebrou (from Ethiopia) on piano.
Where can we catch you performing next?
We're touring the UK in late January and February.
26 January: The Green Door Store, Vive la France convention, Brighton
27 January: The Motorcycle Showroom, Bristol
28 January: The Sage, Gateshead
29 January: The Castle, Manchester
30 January: Leaf on Bold Street, Leeds
31 January: The Continental, Preston
1 February: South Street Arts Centre, Reading
2 February: Shepherds Bush Empire, supporting King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, London
3 February: Barfly, HMV Next Big Thing, London