Singing is a talent not many people can do, however singing from the soul is a unique trait you can't fake and Markus "Aurelyus" Jackman has that trait in spades. When i first heard him sing it gave me chills, the runs, the power, and the ability to suck you into his world are wondrous. If you are looking for a new artist you can vibe to then Markus is your bear.
in this interview, Markus discusses his ideal perfect day, his battle with loving himself, and his upcoming music projects
My mom likes to tell the story that before I could walk or talk, I could sing. My household was obsessed with the show ‘Married with Children’ and anytime the theme song would come on I would hum along with the melody. I realized that I had a real talent when my eldest brother, Mykael, asked me to show him how to sing and use vibrato. I had no damn clue what he was talking about but when educated me on the techniques and terms, realized that maybe I had something there.
My music is R&B/Soul with nods to Pop, Hip-Hop & Gospel. I grew up in church and sang in choirs that helped my sound. Luther Vandross music and live performances taught me about making moments in my music so I strive to give people small moments in every song. My songwriting is usually story-driven giving a narrative that is easily digested but still uniquely me.
I am a gamer, a comic book, and anime nerd, so those references are often found in my music. I am all about freedom and pure, unfiltered expression of self vocally and musically so those themes are visited often.
In Toronto, there is an organization called RISE Edutainment and they run a yearly concert called 416RISE where local talent gets a big crowd on a big stage to perform a set. It’s the ability to show the RISE community as well as the arts community in downtown Toronto what you can do and possibly build a name for yourself. I formed a band from classmates from my college music program called the Music Industry Arts & Performance program at Centennial College in Toronto and was the first of the musical acts to perform.
I will never forget stepping on that stage and seeing all the lights and full audience. JP Saxe headlined the night and had a stellar performance; I instantly became a fan. I cried after I performed because it was such a hard day getting everything ready and I wasn’t feeling well but didn’t want to show it. Not many performances have given me the satisfaction of that night.
You have to take care of your voice like it has its own body separate from your own. You have to work it out, feed it, keep it healthy, protect it all while learning about its intricacies. I like using exercises taught to me by past vocal teachers to keep my voice nimble and in top shape. Hydration is incredibly important as well; water is vital to the body and is necessary for making sure your voice works as it should.
I love many genres however my daily go-to are R&B, Soul, Pop & Hip-Hop. I have such a love for them plus they inspire most of my work in terms of sound. Right behind them are genres like Gospel, Soca, and Dancehall. These were the genres of my childhood and are rooted in my upbringing.
There are many benefits to being signed to a major label and, those benefits would be amazing for someone like me who would love to wholly focus on music creation and performance, however, the control of my brandy and decision made in my career would be out of my hands. Being an independent artist would be what I am aiming for, but, under the right contract, with the right team and the right amount of maneuverability, I would consider signing to a major label.
I don’t even focus on standing out as much as making sure I am happy with what I do and who I am. I want my essence to show clearly in my music and songwriting. I am a big man who isn’t afraid to show skin, to dance, to reveal and own his sexuality, as well as be political. I love to speak and sing what’s on my heart.
I will cry singing a gospel song then chastise my friends and followers to respect all sex workers, it’s just the way I am. Being a personality these days is just as important as being a skilled musician these days, so I will show myself true whether people gravitate to me or not. I sing to a crowd of one as I sing to a crowd of 6000, no different than I sing to God.
When people see me, they don’t see gay right away, all they know is I am a big black man who can sing and perform. I don’t disclose to everyone, but on my social media, it is evident who I am and what I like. It has turned some local producers off and a few rappers from collaborating with me but that is to my benefit. The way I see it, who wants to work with someone professionally, that won’t respect who you are personally? I write and sing what I want, and I am proud to do so. There are many blockades and pitfalls to being an openly LGBTQ+ artist, but when you make strides in your life, you know you earned it.
In a creative block, I try a multitude of things to jump start my creative juices. I will take a break and start a new project most times, but sometimes I will read poetry or go on an app and listen to local artists that inspire me to continue writing.
I will call a friend or play video games if all else fails because I don’t like to be stuck creatively, that feeling is like walking in dirty, slushy snow. Somewhere I love to go to get a recharge is downtown Toronto in an area called Dundas Square because it is so busy no one is paying attention to you, yet there are so many things happening around you. It allows me to get flashes of inspiration just by hearing comments and conversations as I’m passing by.
Someone like Missy Elliott or Fantasia would make me so happy. I just want good vibes from great artists, be able to give and receive positivity and amazing musical moments would be a dream. I would also love to open for someone like YBN Cordae or Nicki Minaj. Locally, someone, I would love to open a show for Tika Simone, who is a great performer and artist here in the Greater Toronto Area. She gives me feels every time I have seen her perform!
As the Covid-19 Pandemic set in around the world my immediate fear was my ability to continue my momentum in my career and make an income during the pandemic because most of my income derives from paid performances. The inability to interact with old and new fans, work for the stage and crowd, showcase my songs, and gain compensation for my passion and hard work really took a toll on me mentally & financially.
In a moment of transparency, I had almost given up my dream I have been in pursuit of the last 3 or 4 years. It wasn’t an easy dilemma either, thankfully I realized that I am not done yet in my musicians’ journey. I couldn’t live with myself if I let myself give up and not do everything in my power to make my dreams come true, so I am back on my grind and the dream is still alive.
I wanted to bridge the gap in my content where I was writing a lot of politically driven pieces and being able to show people a side of me that I think only Twitter had really seen so far. I’m a sexual being who is mostly liberated from the shackles of society, where I have no issue showing my body in a sexual or artistic light. From being on social media, unless you have a particular shape or build being a big man wasn’t necessarily thought of as being sexy.
I decided to push myself into writing a song that was sexy but true to me, wanting to connect with possible listeners with a feeling rather than just a story. “Come Over” was born through that feeling of wanting to connect with that person who you trust with your body. They know you and you know them but I didn’t really want to tell a hetero-normative story I wanted anyone from anywhere to understand the situation. Many people don’t realize it but the lyrics aren’t gender-specific. I am so proud of the end result and the feedback I had gotten from it.
I am working on a project with fellow artist T1mm1nZ at the moment. We work so well together and we are family. He is also my roommate and best friend of about 15 years.
He is one of two local artists I learned to write from. We are aiming for fall to release it as for my own solo project, I am working on smaller EP’s first. I will hopefully get one out by end of year as well as I have recorded quite a few songs and I’m feeling out what direction I want to take it. The end of 2020 is my aim for this up-coming EP as more singles are on their way. “Carnival” will most likely be my next single and it is a trip so look out for that.
I see myself being able to support local artists from Scarborough, the burrow I live in, as well as being able to start or fund initiatives that can help young people all over the province. I see my music reaching people all over the world, and being able to sing and write with many amazing artists. I see myself writing for new artists as well, and having a collective or company that helps artists from many genres gain reach and new fans
Markus Performance & Video Interview
Scarborough Radio with Markus "Aurelyus" Jackman Interview
I came out a couple of weeks before I moved out of my mother’s house in 2014. She was in the process of separating from her husband and everyone was on their way out. I was moving out to an apartment with my cousin Tim and our high school friend Andrew and didn’t want to hide anymore. I took them out for Chinese food and told them and they accepted me for who I was.
I even wrote a huge speech that would reassure them that nothing would change on my part. After them was my mother who cried and was awkward about it for a while. My family is Christian and heavily religious, also my mother has been through every up and down I have experienced so I knew she would be hit hard. She told my brothers who varied in response from supportive to a condemnation of a biblical proportion. It was tough on me to have to know my brothers whom I loved could possibly look at me negatively but I needed to be honest with myself. I don’t regret coming out and wish I did earlier but I think when I did was the perfect timing for me.
Years of dealing with traumas and hurts in my high school years had me in a sad, closed-off place. it wasn’t until I came out and started to speak to others who were big and beautiful that I realized that I could be beautiful too. My family is filled with thick, opinionated women, and I saw their beauty but had a hard time seeing mine. One thing I did was take a lot of pictures of myself naked. It was tough because at the time, I didn’t see anything attractive about me but, I could see it in other big men and women. I would speak affirmations and hope that one day my skewed perception of myself would change, and after a long time, I started being comfortable seeing myself naked.
I would stand there and star recognizing that the flaws that I used to cover up weren’t so bad, I started to see my chest as attractive, my facial features which were teased, as defining and handsome, my shape and belly as glorious instead of disgusting. My mother taught me young that there is nothing wrong with my body. I just heard and believed the other voices more than hers. Then when I felt comfortable, I posted a shirtless pic, it was scary at first, I did have people ask me why I posted that particular picture and a few trolls in my inbox, however the overall response was positive. It was like coming out of a cocoon and realizing I am a butterfly, I am beautiful.
Probably about 3 or 4 years ago when I came out already and finally took Instagram and twitter seriously. I fell in love with pages like XLTribe, T.H.I.C.K., and Heavy-duty, which showcase the Bear/Big boy community in their way
I have never been to a big boy or bear event in Canada. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t made my way to one. I know we have Chunk events here in Toronto, but every time I have prepared to go, something comes up like a show or transportation issue. I will make it there when COVID-19 season passes, I promise.
I am a bit removed from the bear or big boy community here in Toronto, but from my experience online there is so much love between us bear and big boys. A lot of us have come from places where we weren’t displayed in a positive light and were bullied or had to defend ourselves from people our whole life. To see so many of us stand in our sexiness and influence now after coming so far is amazing. I love connecting with other big guys and just seeing us do better than others expected of us.
I am a bit removed from the bear or big boy community here in Toronto, but in my experience in the village here, it is largely white and I haven’t seen too much of a push to diversify the scene, but I could be wrong. Online, there are a lot of chasers, and I think some of the big boy community have been in competition with each other over them. Some shady influencers like to put down other big boys like they aren’t big boys themselves.
It’s a self-hate thing in my opinion, to hate on other big guys who may be bigger just because they may be posting nudes or doing tasteful pictures or art and living their lives. Let people live rather than try than shade people who are big for some likes and retweets. It’s ridiculous to me and need to stop right now in the community.
I see us flourishing, normalizing us big boys, big girls, big people, in the mainstream media, dance and music. I see the world finally understanding what body positivity really means. Body positivity is about celebrating who you are and what you look like now, as you are, not about glorifying obesity and hating on people who are slim or muscular. We are not better than anyone else, however we will not stand to be viewed as less than anymore. I see us loving ourselves and learning to be healthy in our bodies while showing everyone what we can do together as a community.
Markus In Bear Mode
Some people think I am a pushover and don’t stand for much else than showing my body, which, if you see any of my social media pages, is such a small part of my content.
I am a realist that showers in optimism, meaning I know what this world is giving but always hope ad work toward a better future. I am a confrontational person these days. I don’t see the value in not calling things out anymore. I love that m journey has allowed me to grow in boldness and not let opinions hit and hurt my heart and soul anymore.
Patience and accountability for others are traits I wish people would show more often. I find patience is something that people lack in today’s society but in a disproportionate way. We as consumers give companies and organizations all kinds of patience while giving those who work as front line works in these companies, none and with no mercy. Seeing videos of people attack women at fast-food restaurants and not help them is a shame to me.
Seeing grown men discredit and tear down women, especially black women, on the internet, or in viral videos, some even being violent with them makes me sad and angry. Watching all these racism pages and groups grow on social media and be protected more than those trying to teach and preach knowledge and unity is frustrating as well. We can all do better individually in keeping ourselves accountable for our actions, but we got to also keep those in power, our brothers and sisters, family members, co-workers, and employees accountable as well and show patience when teaching others about change and wanting that genuine change.
I have a few so don’t judge me; I love Trevante Rhodes, Winston Duke, Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Marlon Wayans and more. As you can tell I don’t really have a type, I like what I like.
Introvert. Like many others, however, social media has allowed someone like me to reach out and connect with people in new ways, and I am very grateful for that.
A perfect day is seeing my mother and hanging out with her, seeing my friends and godchildren, and having good food. After the festivities play some Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 with my best friend Valentine while singing and laughing my face off. To end the night, we could watch horror movies and spark a joint while replying to emails about performances. ultimately would be my ideal day, I’m pretty easy to please, but if I could have all this in one day, I would be blessed.
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