Davis Mallory is a singer and songwriter who appeared on MTV’s Real World Denver and is now preparing to release his new album, LOUD. The title track is a funky dance song and is accompanied by a cool music video featuring lots of interesting visuals and cats, which happen to be among Davis’ favorite animals.
Davis Mallory was born to a musical family in Georgia, and his mother was a visual artist. His childhood exposure to the arts has influenced Davis’ music videos which he wants to be as visually interesting as they are musically addictive. Davis has an impressive musical resume, having previously worked as a reviewer and promoter for concerts and other shows as well as a DJ. Davis now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and has written over 130 songs in a little over a year.
Davis recently discussed his music and his aspirations for the future:
Meagan Meehan (MM): What prompted you to get into music?
Davis Mallory (DM): I grew up in a musical family. My mother put me on stage as a child singing in a children’s choir. Family childhood videos show me always singing. When I left for college, my mom said the music stopped. Music was and continues to be one of my biggest passions. Throughout middle and high school, I bought hundreds, if not thousands, of CDs.
MM: What genre?
DM: My first CD purchases were Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. I spent so much time at music stores listening to CDs and buying new records from NSYNC, Backstreet Boys to Lauryn Hill and Kirk Franklin. Then I got a job at Christian music store and I discovered so many artists, including Katy Perry’s Christian album. My dream was to one day be a singer, in a boyband or a solo artist. My uncle is an artist manager. He managed Amy Grant (a Christian and Mainstream Pop artist) and Michael W. Smith (Christian artist).
MM: So the music industry is in your blood?
DM: My other uncle is a songwriter who has had songs recorded by Sixpence None the Richer and Wynona Judd.
MM: Did you pursue music in college?
DM: I applied to Belmont University School of Music in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was accepted but my mom did not want me to get a degree in music for fear that I would not be able to make money in an industry that was starting to show decline in sales with the creation of Napster. She encouraged me to go to a university in Florida called Stetson and major in Business. Instead, I became pre-med. When it came time to finish college, though, my passion to be a recording artist had not died, and tension had risen between my mother and me due to my recent coming out during my senior year. That year, I auditioned to be on MTV’s The Real World.
MM: Why do you think you were chosen for the show?
DM: I was accepted based around the story of being a Christian gay male who had come out to a family that was not supportive. Upon completing The Real World, I had a conversation with the producer of the show and asked him what I should do now that the show was over. His response: “whatever it is you wanted to before, do that.” For me, that was to be a recording artist, and at the time I was looking for a paying job.
MM: Did being on MTV help you to break in?
DM: I met Brian Graden, the then-CEO of Viacom, at a LOGO (MTV’s LGBT network) launch party in Los Angeles. He arranged for several job interviews for me in NYC at MTV which lead to a role as a music blogger for LOGO’s NewNowNext.com. I wrote a music column for two years called “The New Music Mix” on AfterElton.com and interviewed artists including Janelle Monae and Ellie Goulding, Diamond Rings and NERVO. That led me to a marketing role at the record label for Diamond Rings and NERVO called Astralwerks Records, a part of EMI Music which was purchased by Universal while I worked there. At the time, Astralwerks was the record label home to David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Kylie Minogue, Empire of the Sun, Kraftwerk and many other artists. I spent two years there, and it was one of my favorite jobs in my life.
MM: It must have been exciting, working among all of those influential artists.
DM: I had dreamed of working at a record label, thinking that I might get discovered as a singer which I found out quickly was not likely. Interns would always bring their CDs in hopes to share them with A&R but were quickly told not to. I had those same expectations ten-fold being their hiring manager. However, I did learn a lot about creating the marketing plan for singles, albums and music videos. Also, filming EPKs, creating album listening parties, and making promotional materials for festivals. I met many artists and went to many shows absorbing ideas for my own hopeful someday show.
MM: What led to DJing?
DM: My ex-boyfriend bought me DJ classes in NYC, nd I began performing around NYC as a DJ. My first nightclub was the legendary Pacha (now closed). I also began songwriting during this time. Not having a formal education in music, I was not really sure how to write a song yet I came up with chorus ideas, hooks, melodies, lyrics and would write over instrumentals sent to me by producers.
MM: You were following in your uncle’s footsteps.
DM: I met an artist named Parson James through mutual friends and he became one of my first co-writing partners. He introduced me to his publisher, manager and producers and together we wrote seven songs in a week. My ideas were being included in his songs and occasionally, I would sing background vocals. This was my first time in a professional studio and after this experience, I was hooked.
MM: Is that when you left New York for Nashville?
DM: Parson’s team suggested that Nashville might be a great place for me to develop my songwriting skills and work on my own solo music. My father conveniently had just moved to Nashville so I asked him if I could move in with him. In my first year in Nashville I purchased a copy of Music Row Magazine’s In Charge Edition for $75. It is a directory of over 300 power players in Nashville ‘s music industry. I emailed all of them asking them for coffee hoping to develop business relationships. Through this I met many publishers who set me up on co-writes and I met Roger Murrah (writer of many #1 Country hit songs). He agreed to co-write with me and was my first Nashville co-write. I learned a lot from him on the careful use of lyrics.
MM: Have any of the songs from that first year made it to the recording studio?
DM: I recorded a tribute to my MTV co-star Diem Brown, who passed away from cancer in 2014. We were on MTV’s The Duel 2 together but also grew up in the same part of Georgia and a childhood friend had introduced us before filming. I had a lyric idea that I brought into a co-write that said: “beautiful girls aren’t supposed to die young.” It was the first song where I wrote nearly all the lyrics and the first song I had ever released publicly. The song went on be featured in People Magazine, Us Weekly, E! News and many other publications.
MM: How would you describe your sound today?
DM: It’s a blend of EDM influences, pop music and my southern roots. I compare my music to artists like Robyn and Ellie Goulding or Justin Bieber. Being in Nashville surrounded by Country Music and organic music, I incorporate that influence at times in my songs and my live shows, playing with a full band and using EDM tracks. The songs are by producers in Nashville, Europe, LA, NYC and Miami, so this record has a global sound.
MM: What inspires your songwriting?
DM: I normally write songs about one of four different subject matter: 1. Dating experiences: love lost or found 2. Inspirational songs: songs that I hope to motivate people with. 3. Self-reflective songs: songs about my own personal journey. I recently quit drinking alcohol and joined an AA program and wrote a song about this journey called “Head Above the Clouds” that I will be releasing soon. 4. Dance songs: I am DJ and I love to write a good upbeat fun song that makes people want to dance. After all music is supposed to make you move.
MM: Of all the songs you have created, do you have a favorite?
DM: I have been writing songs lately that I’m very proud of. “Because of Love” by French duo Vorden is one of my all-time favorite songs. It is doing really well in the EDM market with over 20,000 spins in 2 days on a big EDM YouTube channel called Kyra. I have a sad breakup song I have yet to release called “Aftermath” that I cry when I listen to. On my EP, my favorite songs are the ones that make me feel something. I love “Ocean Blue,” “Distance” and “Not That Far Away.” “Anyone Would Know” and “Under Your Spell ” are close seconds. It is very fun to sing “Bull Frog” live. The BPT remix of “Loud” is one of my favorite versions of that song.
MM: Your music videos are very visual and some would say provocative. Do you aim to surprise or shock audiences with visuals?
DM: I do not want to be a shock artist necessarily, nor do I want to create dark art. I aim to create an entertaining visual experience that matches the storytelling aspect of my songs. I do my own casting, location scouting and sometimes even editing of the videos to communicate the idea I have for my songs. With LOUD, which is a sexual song, I included masks. My videographer had wanted pig masks but I felt that might portray too dark of a theme. I am a Leo and chose wildcat masks for the symbolism of God, who is often referred to as a Lion in the Bible and who created sex which is something to be celebrated and enjoyed for mankind.
MM: You also include your cat in the video.
DM: Yes, that’s Xena. American Idol’s Hector Montenegro and vocalist Manny Sandow appear as both a nod to my LGBT background and to highlight fellow talented artists in Nashville.
MM: Where do you hope to go from here?
DM: My current goal is to get out on the road and perform. I want to play Prides and EDM festivals, nightclubs and arenas. I was just booked to play Milwaukee Pride. I want to continue to write more songs both for other artists and for myself while finding new producers to work with to bring to life the songs I have already written. I also want to collaborate with artists in multiple genres (Country artists, rappers, pop artists) and release music featuring other musicians.
MM: What projects are you especially excited about?
DM: I have been creating music videos for many of the songs on my debut EP. I recently shot a video for “Be Without You” in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, with actress Tara Hayes. I am in the planning stages to film a video for “Because of Love”. I am in post-production on the video for “Not That Far Away”. The video is very Katy Perry-inspired and filmed in a gym with many Nashville actors. I plan to release it this summer. I’m also about to release the video for “Bull Frog.” It includes a cameo by my Grammy-winning co-writer Scot Sax. The job of a 30-something musician in Nashville is always fun. You never know where it will end up and every day is a new adventure.
[Featured Image by Jason Lee Denton]