Last Ex: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Eerie reverb haunting atmospheric melodies; the soundtrack to a dark sci-fi/horror film.
File Next To: Timber Timbre, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think, Tortoise
Playing: Night 2 of WL15, Saturday Feb. 14 at Polish Combatants Hall.

Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield are Last Ex. The group was born from a project by their mother band, Timber Timbre, who had been approached to create an instrumental soundtrack for the horror film, The Last Exorcism II. While the soundtrack was ultimately abandoned in 2012, the effort wasn’t a total loss. Inspired by the haunting cinematic score they had developed, Trottier and Fairfield decided to continue working together and evolving their ambient supernatural sounds as Last Ex. Meghan Borthwick asked Simon Trottier about the band’s inception, their musical heroes, and how their 2014 self-titled album might soundtrack a film of their own imagining.

I understand that you created Last Ex along with Olivier Fairfield. He is also one of your long-term collaborators in Timber Timbre. How did you two meet?

We had friends in common. Mathieu Charbonneau introduced us a few years ago…We precisely met on the night of January 29th, 2009 when Ferriswheel (one of Simon’s bands with Mathieu Charbonneau) and J’Envoie (one of Olivier’s old bands) played a show together at Divan Orange in Montreal.

Growing up, which artists did you listen to? How did those artists affect your own music? Do they still have an influence on you today?

We listened to so much music growing up, some of which we still listen to today…Early Pink Floyd records, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew / In a Silent Way period, Slint, Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol, Portishead, bands on Constellation [Records], Can, Tangerine Dreams, early electronic music, BBC Radiophonic Workshops, etc.

When working on our music we always make references to the many different kinds of music we’ve been listening to. We both grew up listening to the same music, so even if we don’t know what the other is listening to, most of our references are still the same.

Both you and Fairfield are also in the Polaris Music Prize-nominated band Timber Timbre. How do you navigate between the two bands? Do you see the projects running parallel to each other, or do they diverge and cover different territories?

We don’t think that the two projects are dissimilar. After all, Last Ex grew out of a Timber Timbre soundtrack. However, Timber Timbre is more about making music to support lyrics, while Last Ex is about making instrumental pieces of music with sounds.

If you could put your music in a film of your own choosing, what kind of film would it be?

Something involving the supernatural and/or extra-terrestrial forms of energy…Something like The X-Files!

If you could play a show with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Simon: I would love to play a show or even to do improvisational music with John Fahey. He’s been such a major influence for me and I’ve learned so much about how to approach music by listening to his records.

Olivier: I’d like to play with Al Johnson of the now-defunct group US Maple. His performances seem challenging, in a good way.

Describe for me your most memorable moment on stage as Last Ex. Why was it special?

We had just started playing our music live a few months ago, and something great happened when we opened for Timber Timbre at Lee’s Palace in December. The energy of the audience became one with the way we were playing our music. We really felt that we were giving something to the audience and they were giving it back to us.

— Interview by Meghan Borthwick