"It was really inspiring moving to Bristol, I was attracted to it because it looked cool, I liked how it looked on the Crescent album covers." These are the words of François Marry, the main man behind François and the Atlas Mountains, a band of musicians mostly from France, who have travelled throughout the UK and mutated over the course of several years into a steady line-up and a very impressive live unit. From what I remember of the covers of the post-rock band Crescent, they were usually black and white photographs, often blurred. In contrast, the music that François currently makes is vibrant and colourful.

Back in 2003, when he was just nineteen, François left his home in Saintes, on the west coast of France and moved to Bristol to make music. He placed a hand drawn advert in the window of his room and scoured the city's car-boot sales for cheap musical equipment. He played shows on his own but he soon joined up with like-minded musicians, in particular brothers Matt and Sam Jones who were the main members of both the aforementioned Crescent and Domino band Movietone. That connection has now come full circle, as I caught up with François on the eve of the release of his debut album for Domino, E Volo Love.

Although E Volo Love is their first for Domino, there have been a string of releases by François and the Atlas Mountains over the years, on a variety of labels. I was intrigued by the band's travels and also by their changing sound over the years. François's first performances in Bristol augmented his solo set-up of guitar, drum machine and sampler by playing keyboards with his feet. So what did that sound like?

"The music I did then was based on the vibe of the friend's living room, it was quite lo-fi, it wasn't about sounding great, it was about fitting the moment," he explains.

In the mid-00s François had some of his music released on Bristol's Stitch Stitch label, but in 2008 he took a break from music and moved back to his parent's house in France. By the next year he felt like making music again and released the album Plaine Inondable on Fence records, the Fife-based label owned and run by King Creosote and The Pictish Trail. François already had a connection with this label from a stint playing trumpet with Bristol band (and Fence artists) Rozi Plain. The Fence set-up must have been an encouragement to him, the way the musicians worked in a close knit community and organised their own releases and events.

"Yes," he agrees. "I was very unsure about whether I was going to carry on making music. I met the Pictish Trail and he was very encouraging. It's rare to find people like him who are at once open, generous and enthusiastic about other musicians. He gave me a lot of confidence. I owe a lot to Fence."

The Fence connection meant that he was on his travels again. By this stage he had made music in Bristol and Bordeaux. Drawn to it by the like minds and a lively music scene François moved to Scotland.

"I moved to Glasgow in 2009-2010, only during the winter. I wish I had stayed there for the summer," he says. "I was a touring member of Camera Obscura for a while. I felt like a different person after that experience, the heavy touring, the life on the road etc…"

Nowadays, François and the Atlas Mountains are based back in France. This new album finds them settled with a steady line-up comprising Bordeaux musician Pierre, aka Petit Fantôme, Scottish musician Gerard Black (who has played with Bill Wells amongst many others), and the stunning percussive skills of Amaury Ranger. François describes the process of meeting these musicians as something very natural and organic.

"I met all the members of the band after some shows I had played in Saintes, Bordeaux and Fife. They were friends of friends who happened to be there and then. We met and became friends, then became band mates."

With all this talk of travel, I was intrigued to learn if François and co had any African connections, apart from the obvious name of the band. A lot of the guitar parts and percussion on E Volo Love owe a lot to West African music, and the album is mixed by Jean-Paul Romann, who has worked on the last few records by Malian group Tinariwen.

"I don't have strong connections with African musicians but I have the biggest respect for them," he explains. "I wish I was more like them musically, very relaxed about what I do, and into the playing and the feel of the instrument more than worrying about the structure and the technological side of the song-making."

Talking of song writing, it's interesting that some of the band's songs are in French, some in English, and some even flip between the two. As a writer how does he decide whether to write in French and English?

"It comes in waves. it's geographical too: if I spend most of my time with English speakers it's English, if more in France it's French."

There is a particularly lovely French song on the album called 'Cherchant des Ponts' and it is a duet with a lady called Françoiz Breut. François gives me some background on her. "She released a record on Bella Union (in the late '90s) and did a couple of UK tours." He enthuses, "she's great. She's at the same time a very classy French woman and a funny d.i.y. girl. She's my favourite female French singer."

Finally, I notice that your official website features a lot of your paintings and drawings. Do you still paint watercolours?

"Whenever I can," he says, "but I need a certain mental space and time, it's not very often that those conditions are gathered, I wish I could paint more."

Indeed, but at the moment the music has taken over, with the band touring extensively to promote E Volo Love. On the album and within their live show they manage to work with a huge range of influences, from indie-pop to African music to Gallic melancholy, to create something quite distinct and original. It is both the end result of a lot of years travelling and working with different types of music, and also the start of something which can only get bigger and better. Who knows where the journey will take François and the Atlas Mountains next?