Pascal Asselin, better known by his stage name Millimetrik, is a staple DJ and producer in Québec’s electronic music scene. Pascal’s music career spans well over a decade and each release is an explorative experiment into the electronic music genre and the artist himself.
Our first encounter with Millimetrik was a handful of years ago at FME in 2019. It was a chilly night but a group of festival-goers gathered under a small tent, losing themselves in dance in spite of the muddy ground and continuous rain. That night, Pascal Asselin and his drummer Jean-Mi Perrier, created a foggy and exciting environment by playing upbeat, disco-inspired tunes that attracted people from the nearby stages before the opening track ran its course. It was quite impressive, so when I saw that Millimetrik was set to play at FEQ this year it seemed like the right time to meet Pascal for a chat.
Today, we get lucky, the sun is out and there is not a cloud in the sky. We met backstage after the soundcheck just as the crowd began to flood through the main gates chanting “Olé, Olé, Olé” (common crowd behavior in Québec I notice). A couple of chairs tucked away in the backstage media tent offer us both some comfort in the shade. Having just finished the soundcheck Pascal, dressed in a Toronto Raptors tank (represent!), relaxes for a moment, “I feel like with COVID I haven’t met anyone in person in a long time” – this is nice, we both regard with mild awkwardness.
Millimetrik’s 10th studio album, Sun-Drenched, is the spotlight of this performance. The record took nearly a year to make and with the pandemic, a lot has changed over that year. In time some of the songs began to take on a darker tone, reflecting on the global environment but when the time came to curate the album Pascal chose to omit the dark songs in favour of those that were more optimistic. “The record is celebrating a year now, I’m really happy about [how it turned out]”.
Asselin’s first dive into the music scene was playing drums in various rock bands. When Millimetrik began to form as a concept he was determined to set the two projects apart, making darker, more ambient music. In time, the life of the rock band drummer took a backseat, “since I stopped playing drums in bands, I’ve brought back the drums on my solo work”. Some songs begin with a piano loop or the synthesizer but many of the songs begin on the drums so naturally, the drums are always a part of the live performance.
Producing Sun-Drenched with various pandemic regulations in place restricting access to people and spaces was tricky but when the opportunity came Pascal met his collaborators in person. There are many voices on this latest record (Tire Le Coyote, Liana Bureau, Dominic Pelletier, Valérie Clio, Mel Lancet) all of whom got a creative say on their respective productions, including writing the lyrics. This pushing-the-boundaries mentality was present in collaborations as well: “I like to be surprised by the vocalist’s talents, so I push them to try new things,” Pascal admitted. One of these experimentations was having a folk singer (Dominic Pelletier) sing on an EDM track: “we tried a few different things, and after a few versions, we found a good path that we were both enjoying”. Seeing Dominic perform “Sunlight at Bay of Plenty” at FEQ, crowd surfing through the afternoon mosh pit, brought a smile to my face – “yes,” I thought, “he certainly seems to be having fun”.
Millimetrik is heavily inspired by cinema and the open road – “it’s funny, but it’s true, my album concepts come to me while I’m driving”. “Every time I’m driving, on new roads at least, I get ideas. I have post-it notes in the car and write down ideas as they come up” eventually, a bigger vision forms. Road trips are a frequent activity in Pascal’s life, “Actually, I’m leaving next Sunday on a three-week crazy road trip to Utah,” it’s a family road trip but also a place for him to get inspired and create visuals, visuals we are likely going to see on the next release. Or maybe not, we’ll just need to wait and see but as someone who followed this adventure on Instagram, I am for one, excited to see what ideas will form from this journey. A project Pascal is currently working on is the overflow of tracks from his collaboration with the Flip Fabrique circus for whom he produced the soundtrack not too long ago. The album is basically ready, but as far as the creative process goes it would be safe to say that changes will be made before we get to hear it.
“So you’ve been making music for over a decade now, do you think you’ve changed as an artist?” I wondered out loud, “A lot” he quickly admitted. “I was telling everybody here that it’s so cool that I’m playing this huge stage tonight instead of like 10 years ago because my approach is totally different now. Back then I would have tried to just sound like the others but now I just make sure that people really enjoy the set and don’t worry about the trends so much”.
We talk a bit longer about travel, trends, and vinyl, that general appreciation and genuine love of music are in the air like soft perfume. “I have a copy of the record for you today,” he tells me during our chat. Pascal is a collector (I’m not surprised), “it’s the physical components, it is special,” he states like a true vinyl believer, “I think it’s a nice object, plus my kids can play it, and that’s pretty cool”. The crowd out front begins to get louder, we exchange parting pleasantries and agree to stay in touch. Within the next hour, Millimetrik took the stage with Jean-Mi Perrier on the drums, joined by vocalists Dominic Pelletier and Liana Bureau and two dancers for a spectacular live performance of Sun-Drenched.