If you don’t know who Davis Mallory is, it’s time you learned his name. The Real World alum has been in the public eye as an out and proud gay man for years, way before it was the television norm. These days, though, Davis is less of a reality star and more of a star musician. The 34-year-old singer-songwriter’s music has been lauded by People Magazine, Billboard, and (of course) MTV.
Davis’s latest single, Dance with Me, is an electropop track co-written by Mallory and produced by French DJ Loic Penillo and released under French record label Sidekick Music. The song is about the potential for love that exists when you first ask someone to dance with you, and according to my conversation with Davis, also about unrequited love with two men he fell for this past year.
Dance with Me is upbeat and poppy, similar to songs by artists like Troye Sivan and Robyn, and the accompanying music video is full of glitter and roses with references to retro-70s era pop.
I sat down with Davis to talk to him about his time on MTV, and the music video Dance with Me which premiered on Billboard this week.
I want to start by asking you about your time on MTV’s The Real World. How did you get involved with the show and what was that experience like?
I came out when I was in college in 2005. I grew up in a in a small, conservative town so when I came out to my family, I was told not to come home, and in my anger, I auditioned for The Real World.
I'd been a fan of the show in high school, so I auditioned in Florida my senior year of college, and so began a 6 month process which eventually led me to getting cast on the show
Being out on MTV in 2006 was still pretty new. Were you worried how people would perceive you or the gay community in general?
I knew I was gay since about 6th grade, and I had never seen any masculine images of gay men; it was always very feminine images. At times that made me not want to be gay because I believed being a man was still important. So I set out to show that you don’t have to be feminine to be gay.
I did have some fear, but I mostly went on hoping I could show people that being gay doesn't equate to being feminine. To this day, I still get messages from people telling me they came out because they saw me on TV.
I did get called a fag on the show but other than that didn't experience much hate.
Would you say The Real World opened a lot of doors for you and your music?
I couldn't say that it hasn’t, although it might have limited my potential. For instance, there are several companies that haven’t taken an interest in working with me and that makes me wonder if The Real World affected that.
In other ways, I have had doors opened for me and lots of opportunities have come from being on the show.
At what point did you want to become a singer?
My uncle is in the music industry and works with [Christian artists] Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. I was also in my high school's chorus and church choir. I knew it was a strength of mine, and I always loved it. Whenever I left home for college, my mother said the music stopped in the house.
Who are some of your current musical influences?
Troye Sivan, Sam Smith, and Adam Lambert are some of my peer influences. But Michael Jackson and Prince have always been an inspiration, both for their music and also how they defy masculinity.
I want to talk about your newest single Dance with Me. Tell me about the concept behind the song and the video.
French music producer Loic Penillo emailed me an instrumental that I liked. Whenever I write music, it is typically melody first and lyrics second. I wrote most of the song myself, and I had two co-writers help me toward the end. One of them suggested I include some French lyrics, so at the beginning of the song I say dance avec moi or dance with me. I also struggled with the bridge, and the other writer helped me with that part of the song. I also referenced Britney Spears' music in the bridge.
The song came out on March 7th and I knew I wanted a music video to accompany it.
The video was filmed by a graduate of Nashville’s Watkins Film School, Micah Atkinson. I was really impressed with his style and ideas. The song is about love and being enamored with someone so [Michah] came up with a rose motif to illustrate that.
I just knew I wanted a retro-vibe, and that I wanted to be a little shirtless.
I read that the song is about you falling in love with guys too easily. Talk to me about that.
I was dating a guy from 2014 until January of last year. He never came out of the closet for me and is still not out of the closet which is why we ended things.
After him, I quickly fell for someone else about a month after we broke up. He was an out-of-towner, and I liked him a lot and thought he liked me a lot. Then I found out the next day that he was drunk, and I was sober and his feelings were not what he was saying they were when he was kissing me.
Not too long later, I started liking a guy that lives in Canada, but he was not into long distance.
So when I wrote the song, I was at a place where I was still kind of obsessed with these two guys, checking their Instagrams all the time and what not, so I was really sad when I wrote the song. That was the reason for the emotions of the song.
When people hear the name Davis Mallory, what do you want them to think?
I don't mean this in a vain way, but I would love to be thought of as someone as well-known in the music industry as Elvis, Michael Jackson, Prince, or George Michael. I work really hard, and I feel like my music is getting better.
I want to leave this earth knowing I made good music. I want to create happy, feel-good music with a positive message.
Some of my music has Christian influences but is still world-accepting. Some of my music deals with what it’s like being a gay person.
One of my songs called Somebody is Watching is a response to that party lifestyle I lived for so long. I’m sober now for a year, but I had years of self abuse with alcohol, waking up blacked out out next to someone and not remembering what we did. So I wrote Somebody is Watching with the idea that God is watching over us.
Do you think that being gay holds you back in the music industry?
It held me back when I was younger, but I don’t worry about that anymore. I believe I can just be myself now.
Watch the video for Dance with Me here:
**To learn more about Davis an his music, follow him @davismallory on Instagram and Twitter