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Jaki Nelson Dances With Strangers
Leo Madrid

Jaki Nelson Dances With Strangers

Pop success beckons to Jaki Nelson, whose "Dancing With Strangers" single has just been sitting in the upper reaches of the Billboard charts. Nelson performs at Club TigerHeat at Avalon on Thursday, Feb. 21, so we chatted about it all.

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you start singing and performing, and when did you start taking it seriously?
JAKI NELSON: I was born into a musical family, so I’ve been doing music my entire life. My parents have been telling me stories about when I was an infant, they would drive me around the block to get me to go to sleep, and then at some point I just started singing along to the radio instead. So as long as I remember, I’ve been singing. When I was about 17, I discovered how music is actually recorded, the programs that are used and all that stuff, and it was so fascinating to me, it just sparked this obsession. So I became more of a producer at first, but I realized that I didn’t have to go searching for singers, I could just do it myself. Once I started doing that, I started getting requests from other people to sing on their tracks, too. That was the moment when I went, "Oh, I could do this. Cool."

Describe your sound/style.
I’m a pop-leaning dance act. So it’s all in the pop/commercial realm, but it is very dance, EDM style.

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What has been your career highlight so far?
Being on the Billboard Top 10 — I did that with “Dancing With Strangers” and with “Uh Oh.” But really the craziest moment of my life was playing San Francisco Pride. That crowd was insane. There were 500,000 people there. It was a really great performance. There was a performance that I did about a month after that at the Globe Theater, and this guy was screaming in the audience, “I saw you at San Francisco Pride,” and I just about died.

What can we expect from this set at TigerHeat?
It’s up in the air right now. We have about five different songs that we could release next, so it’s just a matter of which one we can actually put out for that show. But that show will be special in that we were putting out songs for that show.

Describe your live experience.
I sing to a track and I’m live on top of that and I also have backup dancers. At TigerHeat, about two to four male dancers. I’ll do choreography with them, and we’ll do lifts and stuff where they lift me up in the air. It’s super fun.

After this gig, what's next for you in 2019?
What am I allowed to say? I know that we’re going to be doing a bunch of the Pride stuff. I know we’ve booked San Diego for Pride. I have some really fun stuff coming up but I don’t think I can say it yet.

Jaki Nelson performs at Club TigerHeat on Thursday, Feb. 21, at Avalon Hollywood.

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