Davis Mallory – Loud
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) How would you describe your sound?
A) My sound is a blend of electro pop synth-driven tracks, future house/future bass EDM production and then singer-songwriter acoustic elements. As a performer I feel at times I embody aspects of a country singer (having been born and raised in Georgia and writing music in Nashville), but more often that of an EDM pop vocalist.
Q) Who are musical influences?
A) I grew up listening to Backstreet Boys and NSYNC in high school wishing I was in a group like that. The first CD I ever bought was Mariah Carey’s Daydream. I loved Christina Aguilera’s second album. Then, I got really into house music and dance music post college, which is actually why I went to work for Astralwerks Records for two years (home to David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia). Robyn, Ellie Goulding, Marina & the Diamonds are female vocalists doing a musical style similar to what I’ve been going for. Music by Justin Bieber/Nick Jonas/Shawn Mendes/Charlie Puth/Mike Posner also is similar in vein to mine. Being raised in the south I grew up listening to country music and a lot of John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band as well as Christian music. I worked at Christian CD store in high school, and Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith were childhood influences as my uncle was their manager.
Q) Talk about story behind your song “Loud.”
A) I wrote “Loud” with Mitchel Rose, a co-writer I had been working with ongoing for the last few years. He is a really talented singer/artist himself and each time we write we leave with a good song. At the time of “Loud” I was working with an LGBT PR company that encouraged me to write something in the vein of George Michael’s ‘I Want Your Sex.” We were talking about doing a shirtless photoshoot for a magazine and so when Mitchell and I had the co-write I told him writing something sexy was the goal. The subject is about seeing someone you want and telling them things you want to do to them. I had a crush on a guy (an artist in Nashville who is also a co-writer of mine) and for me that is who the song was about when I wrote it. Mitchell is a straight guy so his influence in the lyrics is all about the ladies.
Q) What do you think it is about the song that fans connect to?
A) The production is great for starters. I had three versions produced. The original is by a duo in Nashville: Timothy Ryssemus & John Hanna (John has a project called Subrense and his EP was just signed to Armada Music’s Brobot label). Timothy Ryssemus (who has a project called Ricca Vita) originated the music around the song, playing guitar on the track, creating the effects in the drop and re-worked the lyrics with me for the chorus (adding the lines “I wanna hear you scream my name, you won’t be the same” and he wrote the pre chorus “I know you like it, there ain’t no time to fight it”). I shared this version of the song to Miami based producer Landis who loved it and asked for the stems. His remix came out before any of the other versions this January on Armada Music’s Delecta Records, which is my first song to ever be signed to a record label, a label founded by Cedric Gervais famous for his Grammy nominated remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.” I can’t pick a favorite as I love each of them, but I have been performing to the remix made lastly by Nathan Menaged who goes by BPT. Nathan’s manager worked for Skrillex for eight years and connected me with Nathan to create a remix I wanted that was more dance leaning than the original and kept my voice unaltered (Landis’ version has pitch shifted down my vocal). The BPT remix is also very popular among my fans, it has a pretty production with cool synths. I re-recorded new vocals for specifically for BPT’s version so it feels and is different than the first two which share the same vocal.
Q) How does the video for the song play into that message?
A) The music video for Loud was shot and directed by Derrick Lipschitz whom I met when I worked for Astrlawerks in NYC. We filmed half of the video at The Nashville Film Institute with recent graduate Silas Phillips. The other half was at Timothy Ryssemus & John Hanna’s company the Altru Creative’ space. The video includes Nashville Predator ice skater Emily Outlaw and an actress from the “Nashville” TV show Kayla Poyner (as my James Bond girls). I am a LEO and for a long time have wanted to include lions in my videos and choregraphy on stage so we went out and bought wildcat masks and the producer of the song (John Hanna) and two of my Nashville DJ/Producer friends Eric Evido Palmieri & Roe wear the wildcat masks and get into some rough housing. I brought my Himalayan cat Xena on set as well. We added a second day of filming for the close up shots of my mouth and casted “American Idol’s” Hector Montenegro (an artist I write music with) and actor Manny Sandow for a scene to nod towards my LGBT ties. I came out on MTV’s “The Real World.” The video embodies the elements of the lyrics of the song: pretty girls dancing and boys grinding up against one another with an artistic visual direction. I am the son of a visual artist and grew up making art projects as a child so I like to include artistic elements into my music videos.
Q) What is your song writing process? do you need music before you can create lyrics?
A) I write songs in a few ways. Sometimes I am given instrumental tracks from a producer to write over. I will sing ideas that come to my mind into a voice note on my phone and build upon them – usually the first word sticks and the song then becomes centered around that motif. In a co-write I may come in with one of these instrumentals to write on (especially if I am not feeling inspired to write on it alone, or if I am having trouble finishing it). Also in co-writes I will come in with song lyrics and a melody and we build around that idea from the ground up. I have also often been on the flip side and helped another artist/writer build out an idea they have – writing over guitar or piano. On my EP LOUD “Ocean Blue” was originally a top-line for an EDM producer in Italy that rejected it and Brazilian producer Paulo Ventura produced new music and a new arrangement around the lyrics I had written. “Distance,” written with Bay Brooks from “The Voice,” was written over guitar from scratch and some of the influences for that song were Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving” and Shawn Mendes’ “Stitches” in the bridge. “Under Your Spell” was a topline written over a beat produced by Nashville based pop producer KELLR who has worked with many artists in the Nashville pop scene. “Not That Far Away” was written as a topline over a beat produced by Jon Santana, another well respected Nashville based pop producer who produces the artist Cappa (among many other artists. Cappa’s music caught my eye and is why I started working with him. Her music gets played in Forever 21 and H&M.) “Help!” is a song I wrote over a beat produced by a Turkish producer named KKM Kaan. “Because of Love” I wrote as a topline over a beat produced by Parisian duo Vorden. “Loud” though was written over piano with Mitchell and came from scratch, as was “Anyone Would Know” written with Ben Goldsmith & Tori Tullier who played guitar and piano respectively. So, writing toplines has been a larger part of my record.
Q) What can fans expect from a live Davis Mallory performance?
A) I performed yesterday (June 11) at Milwaukee Pride on a lineup that included Betty Who, Todrick Hall, Steve Grand, Crystal Bowersox, 10,000 Maniacs and Har Mar Superstar. My show had two male dancers. We choreographed many of the songs and then we stripped it down mid show to do acoustic songs – my song “Distance” co-written with Bay Brooks from The Voice and a cover of Coldplay’s “Something Just Like This” – then turned it back up with the pop tracks. I have a drummer and a guitar player playing with me over these EDM tracks and I created custom videos for each song so it’s visually stimulating show. It was my first time running through this and I had great first show. I was unexpectedly asked by one of the attendees to sing my tribute song to my costar Diem Brown who lost her battle to cancer in 2014 called “Beautiful Girls (Diem’s Song).” It was an emotional performance for me, the whole show was emotional and I’m looking forward to doing more!
Q) Where are some of your favorite places to perform? and what makes those locations so significant?
A) I love festivals and I love performing to big crowds, especially when I see people singing along to the lyrics I have written. That’s really impactful. I write songs with a hope to spread a message and connect with people. This past show I sang “Distance” stripped down acoustic and my manager told me not to sing it the way it sounds on the record o when I went to sing it (it’s about my boyfriend and I breaking up) I acted out the words instead of just singing it like I know how to and it made me cry. But I think it impacted people. Crystal Bowersox (“American Idol”) talked to me after the show and told me it connected with her. It was an organic moment. Two songs in my set are meant to uplift people: “Not That Far Away” is about going to Heaven and “Love Overcomes” is about spreading love around the world to heal pain, which I wrote with Bonnie Bishop (Chris Stapleton’s Grammy winning album was produced by Dave Cobb and Cobb just produced Bonnie’s new album). When I perform them live I noticed a mom and her kids dancing along to it. It’s nice to see that and spread a positive message to younger generations and families because that’s what I want with my music.
Q) Will there be an EP or full album coming in the future?
A) So, my first EP ever is called LOUD and will be out on July 7th, 7/7/17! I am really excited and proud of it.
The track listing is:
- Under Your Spell
- Ocean Blue
- Be Without You (feat Bridget Caldwell)
- Anyone Would Know
- Not That Far Away
- Because of Love
- Love Overcomes
- Go All Night
- Loud (BPT Remix)
- Loud (Landis Remix)
I am already working on what would be a debut album. I have written roughly forty new songs this year as well as have had some songs written over the past few years finally produced to the level I wanted from them.
Q) What band/album are you currently listening to and why do you dig them?
A) I keep my ears on the Spotify Top 50 playlist finding many new favorite songs there. This year I got really obsessed with Jon Bellion after a friend turned me on to his song “80s Films.” I watched his YouTube videos as he talked through the creative process for each of his songs. I think he is a genius. I love the messages in his songs, his voice and his production skills. This year I made a point to download everything Prince ever created and have been slowly listening through it all, I’m almost done and have discovered a bunch of new favorites. His Dirty Mind album was my favorite from the experience with the song “When You Were Mine” being my favorite on the record.
Q) You were a cast member on “The Real World: Denver.” What did you take away from your time on reality TV?
A) Yeah I was on MTV’s “The Real World: Denver” in 2006. It was my first job post college. I graduated from Stetson University and two weeks later was on the show, flown cross country to Denver, Colorado to live with six strangers. It was a very unique and surreal life experience. There were a few mornings I woke up and wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or if I really was on a 24-7 reality TV show. I grew a lot from the experience. I made some foolish drunken decisions on the show, but I was 21-22 years old so kinda of expected to do that at that age. The best thing that came out of the experience was a relationship with MTV that segwayed me into a role as Music Correspondent for LOGO’s NewNowNext.com that then lead to a role at Astralwerks.
Q) You are a part of social media. why is that such an important way for you to connect with your fans?
A) I have a love-hate relationship with social media. There are so many platforms people are on and I feel the need to post what I put on one platform onto all the others which is time consuming. (i.e. Snapchat to Instagram), but my bigger complaint is that you need to pay to have people even see what you’ve posted. I am most active these days on my Instagram (instagram.com/davismallory) chronicling my days in their stories feature. I enjoy showing people the cool things I do each day – mostly co-writing and recording songs. So, it’s a fun way to show people what I’m up to.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your music?
A) I had a fan tell me yesterday at Milwaukee Pride that they had never heard my music before my show and that they really liked it. That meant a lot to me. It’s a challenge as an artist not signed to a label and without a radio team to get my music heard so when people find it and connect with it, it’s awesome to hear. My dream is to get to a place where I have shows and people are singing the words back to me, like which happened unexpectedly at my show when I was asked to sing my Diem Brown song. I appreciate everyone who connects with my music and has been a supporter of me along the way – I get messages from fans from “Real World” days who have seen the work I have put into making music and send me encouraging messages and that really helps me and moves me forward and motivates me when I receive those.