For recording artist Phyl La Ferriere, Quebec City may be a great place live, but it's not the ideal city to make it as a musician.
"I wouldn't say it's the right place to start a band," La Ferriere says.
So he left home and enrolled at Montreal's Trebas Institute to study audio engineering. But upon graduation, it was time to find an internship. That's when Craig Mercer of the Jimmy Swift Band invited the young engineer to Halifax to help record their new album.
But once La Ferriere landed on the east coast, he soon discovered it was the ideal music scene to settle down and start fresh.
"I just realized there were so many good musicians in Halifax," he says. "I thought it would be the perfect place to start a project."
After receiving an emerging artist grant from Tourism Nova Scotia in March 2011, he met classically trained synth-keyboardist James Spray. Together, the two would form The Wax, an electronic-rock hybrid that blends La Ferriere's love of down-tempo electronica with Peter Gabriel and Metric.
The duo hit the studio last summer to record its debut album, Waiting Room, at Riverport's historic Confidence Lodge recording studio. Recorded by Colin Crowell (JSB, Rich Aucoin), La Ferriere took a hands-off approach to the engineering of the album so he could focus on songwriting and arrangement. "I hate doing two things at the same time," he says, laughing.
After laying down the vocals at home in Halifax, the band spent a year mixing and mastering. In that time, the group recruited St. FX jazz-grads Doug Scurfield and Greg Melchin to round out the live band and provide the chops necessary to recreate La Ferriere and Spray's time signature-shifting vignettes.
People took notice, with the group featured in Under the Radar and performing as semi-finalists at Toronto's Indie Week.
With a solidified line-up, La Ferriere says he and Spray are ready to think about the next album and hope to expand their sonic palette. "We're both interested in sound," he says. "That's what brings us together."
The Wax w/The Dead Tenors, Party Boots
Friday, November 30 at the Marquee Club, 2037 Gottingen, 9pm, $8/$10