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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Nick Stracener Beats His Blues

We sit down with the DJ and remixer…

By Connor Davenport

Nick Stracener views dance music as therapy and a way to escape life’s biggest hurdles. It’s why he was particularly drawn to remix Lindsay Lohan’s “Back To Me” (a song about shutting out negative energy and rediscovering self) and Lady Gaga’s “Fun Tonight” (a song Gaga wrote about the dissolution of her relationship, and how her mental health and experiences with fame also affect her love life).

It is a relatable message to Stracener, whose social media notoriety often invites criticism. He uses his platform, nearly 200K strong, to show off his bodily accomplishments and release any heavy matters weighing on his mind. Most significantly, his own mental health.

“People with mental illness come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and I want to reach others who may be going through similar struggles,” he says.

“You can never really know what someone’s going through in their personal life or what’s going on in their head. Severe depression and anxiety are hidden diseases and I have found that the best way to fight it is to get it out in the open. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Especially in this time of COVID…
What’s the biggest thing weighing on your mind right now?
For me, it would have to be: when will I finally be able to have a live gig, safely, again?

It’s an understatement to say that we’re living in weird and uncertain times. What impact has the lockdown and the larger state of the world had on you and your work?
Just before COVID struck, I was on quite an uphill climb. The bookings were rolling in from all over the USA and Canada as well as international festivals. I was really looking forward to getting out there and showing people what I can do. But life has taken a turn for the worst. All of the gigs I had planned have been cancelled. I’m currently spending way more money on being a DJ than I’m making from it. It’s not cheap, with equipment and promotion, etc.

Have you had to retool how you work to stay afloat?
Oh yes. Since I can’t play live, I’ve been concentrating on creating virtual sets and remixes of popular songs. At least it helps to keep my name out there.

Have you discovered a brighter side to the pandemic?
I try to be as optimistic as possible, appreciating the fact that I have had more time to focus on creating music and working on myself, internally and mentally – but I have to admit I am really struggling right now. It seems as if there’s no end in sight and it’s quite scary.

What are you doing to help you cope?
Spending time with close friends has been helpful. Also my music, and maybe a little bit of comfort food.

Are you taking a COVID break from exercise like the rest of us?
Up until a week ago I was exercising and being pretty consistent, but I just had surgery done so I have to take a few more weeks off until I can fully get back into it.

I saw on Facebook that you were posting pics from a hospital bed! What happened?
I needed umbilical hernia surgery.

Who was there to help you through it?
My good friend Davi [itzjustdavi on Instagram] picked me up from the surgery centre and stayed with me a few days and ran a few errands for me. My parents came up to visit for a day as well. And several other of my friends brought me food. I’m lucky to have a good support system.

Can we get personal on another topic? I also read on Facebook that you’re now listed as single. Was your relationship impacted by COVID-19?
I’ll tell you what I can tell you. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different if COVID hadn’t happened. Sometimes people just grow apart and it’s better to go in separate directions. I’ll always have love in my heart for him and I wish him nothing but success and the best in life, but I believe we exhausted all options and things weren’t working and it was better to split.

What is the biggest lesson you learned from the relationship?
I’ve learned to always follow my heart. I don’t regret anything about our time together because it was a learning experience that will get me one step closer to finding the person that I’m truly meant to be with. I now know the qualities that I need in a partner in order for it to work.

Are you appreciating this time alone?
This time alone has been difficult, especially with everything that’s happened in my personal life. The breakup has definitely amplified all of my gloomy feelings. But I continue to learn more and more about myself every day and the things I need to improve to become the best person that I can possibly be.

Can you tell us about your OnlyFans page? What goes on behind the locked window?
(Laughing)I always tell people this: it’s only 10 bucks and I think it’s worth every penny. You’re going to see everything.

Has the page been helping to pay the bills during the pandemic?
In addition to my DJing and producing, I’m a flight attendant. Sadly, none of those jobs are paying much at the moment. So yes, the OnlyFans page definitely supplements my income.

What new mixes are you working on now?
I recently released my ‘Dance with Life Again’ set and it’s full of lots of classic circuit music and some oldies and new songs as well. I also threw in my brand new Gaga remix, which I’m super happy with the way it turned out.

Do you eventually hope to make original music?
That’s the goal, yes. It’s a work in progress. I think I will have an original song produced this year by the absolute latest. I have a lot of ideas. I really want to find a vocalist who I can connect with as friends and make beautiful music with, together.

How will you spend the rest of today?
I could use a nice scrub bath, but I have these stitches from the surgery so I can’t. Instead, I’ll probably eat! I ordered from Uber Eats earlier and it should be here soon.

Follow Nick Stracener on Instagram at @thenickstracener.

CONNOR DAVENPORT is a freelance writer who loves working from home with his puppies on his lap. He was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. His work has appeared in numerous places in print and online including AXS, Add To Bucket List, Examiner, Leisure, MAAFBox and other websites.

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