Me and My Friends is a UK-based five-piece band with a global outlook heavily influenced by the travels of frontman Nick Rasle.
The British son of a French folk singer, Rasle is very much a citizen of the world. Before starting work on the band’s latest album, Look Up, he spent time in the West Bank working with a music charity and in Turkey and Greece during the height of the refugee crisis.
These experiences informed some of the songs on the album, such as Good Life, inspired by Rasle’s time in Lesbos working in a kitchen feeding refugees.
“There’s an enormous dialogue going on [in the world] right now,” says Rasle. “If I can influence even one person to think differently then that’s a positive thing.”
But pause before you jump to the conclusion that the band’s music must be heavy or worthy, because it’s not – it’s upbeat bordering on joyous.
It draws influence from Afrobeat, Jamaican roots, jazz and most specifically Ghanaian Highlife.
“I visited Senegal when I was 18 and fell in love with African music. It was a really turning point for me. A few years later I discovered Ghanaian Highlife – and just connected with it. I love that it is danceable and euphoric yet able to express sadness and something poignant.”
Me and My Friends formed seven years ago after Rasle met bandmates Emma Coleman (cello), Sam Murray (clarinet), James Grunwell (bass) and Fred Harper (drums) on the Leeds music scene (Rasle studied French and Philosophy at Leeds University).
Their first album, Hide Your Way released in 2016, was well received by BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music and they’ve been building momentum ever since.
“There’s this myth around the pop/indie music scene that you have to make it in the first year or two and if you don’t it’s because you don’t have anything to offer,” Rasle says.
“But in the folk/world music scene we’ve seen lots of people going at it for a long time and build up their own niche. That’s what we’re in the process of doing. We have a core group of fans who come to our gigs.”
Rasle didn’t originally think he was lead singer material – early in his career he struggled with tuning issues. But with vocal coaching, his confidence grew. “I got lessons at 23. Once I sorted that [tuning issues] out, I discovered I had a lot of range.”
Look Up is out 6 December. The band will play in at Rich Mix in London on 6 December and Cobalt Studios in Newcastle on 8 December. You can also look out for them on the UK festival scene next year.