April 25, 2010
Bringing back true soul in our city, I had the chance to chat with one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets, Troy Jackson. A Recording Artist, community activist, and great spirit, Jackson has just released his video for “Batty Boy’s Revenge” and is eager to talk about his passionate journey growing up queer, black and native.
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a black, native, queer recording artist. I am a twin, a Gemini and one of three boys born to Annie Gibson and Bill Jackson in Ottawa. We grew up in small town Nova Scotia. From an early age, we were encouraged to express ourselves through art and dance. My Grandfather Charlie Gibson referred to our family as the "League of Nations." I grew up around a very big diverse family. I was jock in school, but always secretly wanted to perform.
Fast forward to Vancouver. I lived and performed there for many years doing stand-in work and background work in film and television to fund my art, still secretly wanting to be a singer. Then one day I was almost gay bashed and this shook me. I made a decision right then and there that I was going to make music that encouraged people to speak out and up. I performed at all the venues I could from club to coffee house and then decided to tour with Mikela Jay and went to live and perform in Berlin for a bit.
After returning home, I high-tailed it to Toronto after a generous invite from my sistah Mikela to come and check this city out! I haven’t left.
What does music and art mean to you?
It Feels to me. It feels liberating and powerful. There is a definite energy shift when one sings. Singing makes me feel closer to God/Goddess.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Yes. I was always a bit out there and different. It took me a minute to respect the art of performance and step to the plate. Imagination gets expressed in various wonderful ways when you are a performer I am blessed.
Is there a difference between the music scene in Toronto versus the rest of the country and the world?
The music scene is colored by the "talent in your own backyard,” depending on the mix or influences. Then again, with technology you are not relegated to any particular scene. All I know is, when you give it, people feel it. I have had great receptions from audiences in Vancouver, Toronto, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Your recent video "Batty Boy’s Revenge" has been receiving great reviews. How did this song come together?
My Mom was here for Pride last year (yeah Mom!). We were at a Pride Uganda event with my partner El-Farouk Khaki. I was talking about the track and wanting to do a video when Alison Duke’s partner told me, “go ask my partner. It will probably be something she would like to direct" and the rest is history.
I was compelled to write the track to purge some negative energy. I have only been called a "Batty Boy" here in Toronto by other men or boys of colour. It put me off a bit. Here I thought I was moving to an international city, then again, homophobia is everywhere like racism and misogyny. This is my response to that call. It is my response to the Church that perpetuates lies against the Homosexual. I was also tired of being scapegoated in the Black Community as something less than a man or something to not be acknowledged. I am stating my claim in this song. Calling out for the allies and the other Queers of the world to stand up and be heard. The revenge part of the track. This is why the song was written.
What makes a good music video? How much fun did you have with the video shoot of "Batty Boy’s Revenge"?
I can only speak about my own experience. What made this video great was the teamwork and the respect for all involved. The appreciation and the message. The ‘why’ made this video powerful and worth the whole day shoot. I was high from the amazing energy on the set. It kept me going from 7 p.m. ‘til midnight. I was tired, but still smiling when Alison yelled ‘Cut’ after the last scene. It was a pleasure! I love making music with a message! I love my Queer heritage!
For more information on Troy Jackson, check out: www.enjoytroyjackson.com.