[Exclusive Interview] PAQS Talks Rise to Stardom, Productions & More!
Nikola Tesla once said, "if you want to find the secrets of the universe think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." Another influential figure that seemed to have cracked that code is none other than Philippe Paquette, better known by his stage name PAQS.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the multi-talented artist for an exclusive interview following his charismatic performance at Festival Riverside earlier this month. We discussed everything from his musical journey, inspirations, productions, learning experiences, and much more!
We were truly blown away by the Canadian talent's uplifting answers and his comprehensive outlook on life. Although we've had the opportunity to get better acquainted with PAQS through the Ottawa Rave Community, we must admit that we weren't expecting for our personal energy to shift following this encounter.
We challenge you to read the below article and not to feel immediately better. The way he expresses himself is unquestionably powerful. We genuinely appreciated the fact that he wore his heart on his sleeve. Now, more than ever, it's evident to us why he rose to stardom in so many aspects of his life.
We can't wait to see what else the future holds for PAQS. Until then, here's a glimpse into what you can expect in the near future....
1) For those who are unfamiliar with your craft, can you give us a glimpse into your musical upbringing as well as who continuously inspires your art?
Yes, of course! I got into DJing and music in general through an odd route... When I was playing hockey, I actually had multiple head injuries; [therefore,] I had to end my sports career. [As a direct result,] I was struggling with insomnia; which meant I was awake during a good portion of the night. [Thus,] I decided to download 'VirtualDJ' to help pass the time.
[It really sparked my creativity!] I started to understand which songs worked best together, and I ended up making my first 7-minute mix. I decided to show it to my sister - she [instantly] told me how much she enjoyed it! [To give you an idea,] I started producing back in 2012. To be honest, I made a lot of sh*t music so I could finally create some stuff that sounded half decent...
From there, I kept creating more of these mixes and I was working on my own productions. This [hustle] eventually lead to my first gig, back 2014, where I played for 8 people. It was awesome! That's when I decided to check out Escapade Music Festival. Right away, I fell in love with all things dance music. From that moment, I knew that music was what I was meant to do in life.
[After that experience,] I put in the work, and landed myself a couple of resident DJ gigs at some of the nightclubs in Ottawa. I remember that Liquor Store/Green Room had quite a large capacity - from memory, up to 500+ attendees. [As such,] it was a great learning environment for a number of different reason. I will always be grateful for my first residency!
I also had a residency at Pub 101, where I would play on Thursdays. It was always crazy! These residencies allowed me to get my hands dirty; I haven't looked back since. [Therefore,] to be where I'm at today is a total dream come true! Even though it's nearly a decade in, I still get just as excited to play; the magic only seems to grow.
When it comes to what continues to inspire me, musically, I gotta give it up to everyone - sincerely! Every artist motivates me to push the boundaries of my craft due to their own artistic expression. The diversity and energy is really special. [That said,] if I had to pick a few talents, I would say the OGs like Swedish House Mafia, Martin Garrix, W&W and Brooks really impacted me.
On the topic of creativity, you often give an in-depth perspective into your overall creation process in the studio, among other aspects of your day-to-day life, via your social media channels.
2) What have been some of your favourite productions you've made to date and how do they reflect the artist you want the world to know you to be? As for social media, do you think there are any tools lacking to get that message across?
Great questions! 'Escape' is a track of mine that I had made nearly 4 years ago. I actually dropped it at [Festival] Riverside for the first time, and the crowd went crazy! It was special to notice that some people recognized it. I love mixing in my own tracks during my sets to keep everyone on their toes. I especially love the sound design on 'Escape' - it pretty dark; a real vibe!
Also, I have so much more music that I've been sitting on. I call it my 'vault' - I can't wait to reach into it and allow some of the tracks to see the light of day. At the moment, I am just trying to feel out when and where would be the best place(s) to release these productions. I feel like I'm on my own agenda; it's great to have this creative liberty.
In regards to social media, I would say the biggest thing I'm lacking is a team. I've had a couple of managers in the past; but, that shifted when the pandemic hit as there was no longer a need for me to have one (lack of shows). I would love to work with a new manager moving forward. I really enjoy that comradery. If you're reading this, my DMs are always open.
Speaking of your DJ persona, we have to say, we absolutely love the energy you bring when you take the decks.
3) Do you have any pre-show rituals that encourages you to connect with your audience, and ultimately, to deliver the dynamic performances that you're known for? Also, if we were to encounter you in the wild, would you say you're as energetic as you are while you're on stage?
Thank you! The biggest thing for me is visualization. For example, when I was booked for [Festival] Riverside, I visualized my expectations and my set as a whole weeks prior to the event. That way, when I walked on the stage, it felt like I had already performed a bunch of times over, alleviating all of the potential nerves. [Furthermore,] meditation is also an important tool as it allows me to stay focused and calm.
I would also like to say that it's a practically surreal feeling when you step on the stage due to the overflow of energy you feel as a DJ. So, it's really important for me to visualize and meditate before I take the decks. I encourage others in this field to do the same because when you encounter this influx of energy, it can start to weigh on you if you're not initially prepared. It's a little tricky to describe, but it's always better to be ready for the unexpected vibrations...
[Festival] Riverside was also [an experience I treasured] because my family was in attendance. Although they might not know this world, seeing their smiles and them dancing meant a lot to me. [What made my heart full,] was also seeing my brother at the rail and my sister on someone's shoulders - these are moments I will always remember. [Consequently,] any worries were simply nonexistent.
To answer your [subsequent] question, I would say that I am a pretty calm person. I feel like I feed off of my environment though - so, if there are a lot of people around me, or if there's music playing, that really impacts the energy I give off. In my day-to-day life, I also do multiple practices, like breathing exercises, which tend to bring me back into a generally tranquil state of being.
Some may not know that you (& your brother) won Big Brother Canada Season 4.
4) We're curious ~ what are some of the lessons you've learned during that experience that you have brought forth into your journey as a musician, & why do you believe it's important to continue to implement them for the overall success of your career?
Another great question! Once again, I would have to say it's visualization. When one [imagines] where they want to go, what they want to do, and what they want to become, it will lead to great things. [In my opinion,] it's also important to trust your gut instinct and not force anything - just be yourself. These are all things that helped me grow in the industry and personally.
[On that same note,] I would also encourage others not to copy someone else. Simply, share what you love and be yourself. From my own past and present experiences, these ways of life seem to be working well for me. Finally, I would say to keep expressing yourself through pure love and good energy - that's what will take you to the top.
5) Is there anything else you'd like to share with The Flag Gang?
Yes! Get ready for lots of new music. I don't plan to stop for the remainder of my life. Like, until I get burred in the ground, I will be putting out my music and playing shows. So, my followers will always have something to look forward to - you better believe that! [Lastly,] I love each and every one of you. Thank you for everything. I just wholeheartedly love you!
Photos courtesy of Lakyn Marie Felix