Self Love and Powerful Purpose — Inside Moore Kismet’s Beautiful, Chaotic Universe
The common tropes of adolescence — after-school sports, all-nighters spent studying, hours-long gaming sessions — have a nostalgic sentiment when viewed from the high perch of adulthood. Occasionally, though, dreamers like Omar Davis, also known as Moore Kismet, making some serious waves in the electronic music industry, exchange those core memories with national tours and festival runs before even graduating high school.
At 16 years old, they became the youngest artist to perform at EDC Las Vegas, Lollapalooza, and Red Rocks Amphitheater. That same year, ILLENIUM asked Davis to join him on his Fallen Embers Tour. They’ve even been included in Billboard’s annual “21 Artist Under 21” for the past three years. With Davis’ long-awaited debut album, Universe, dropping later this month, their accolades keep mounting. As a black, LGBTQ+, non-binary artist, forging a path to stardom is no easy feat. But their openness about their struggles is admirable and, thankfully, contributes to music that inspires the masses.
“[Universe] was created with people that I truly love and adore,” Davis said with gratitude during their recent interview with MP3 MAG. They went on to explain that the people who contributed to Universe “are perfect examples of people who understand their strengths and weaknesses as human beings and as artists who were able to bring their whole selves into creating this universe with me and to establish this feeling of finding yourself and discovering what it truly means to love yourself.”
Love, a constant theme throughout Universe, means being honest with both yourself and with the world. For Davis, that meant acknowledging they didn’t fit the traditional mold of binary genders. When they eventually came out as non-binary at 14 years old, bullying and homophobia became a common occurrence. Davis fled from those unwarranted insults of our homophobic world the only way they knew how to — creating emotional, electronic bangers. Out of those painful experiences, “Rumor,” Moore Kismet’s collaboration with Australian producer, WYN, was born.
“‘Rumor’ is a song about navigating homophobia and bullying which is something that I dealt with a lot when I was younger because that was around the time that I originally came out,” Davis explains. “For me, that was a very difficult experience but I’m glad that I was able to translate it into that song with WYN. That’s why it’s such an important song to me and why a lot of people felt it was important to them too.”
Davis sees their music as more than a collection of sounds meant to light up a dancefloor. Their music is an expressive medium meant to document snapshots of emotional struggles, creative highs and lows, and their never-ending journey towards self-love and acceptance. Above all, Davis is intentional with their creative process. From “Call of the Unicorn,” the screeching bass-ballad fusion that will surely wake up the neighborhood, to “Wasteland,” a pretty, melodic banger about coming to terms with the final moments of a toxic relationship, every song on Universe was created with a powerful purpose.
“It’s incredibly important for me to make sure that anything I’m writing has a distinct intention to it. Universe is an album about love, acceptance, discovering your self-worth, being an overall energetic, happy, light being, and just understanding everything that might weigh you down.”
In the early days of defining their brand, Davis searched for a symbol that could represent the “happy,” “light” and “energetic” nature of their personality. One mystic creature came to mind – the unicorn.
“From a mythological perspective, they are supposed to be seen as these Elridge abominations, but to me, they represent love and light and happiness and rainbows, which is my favorite color. I chose unicorns because my mom and I both love unicorns and rainbows, and I think that’s something that resonated with me more so than anything.”
If there’s been one person who’s been by Davis’s side through every heartbreak and triumph scattered throughout Universe’s 17 tracks — it’s been Momma Kismet.
Davis’s mother, known by their fans as Momma Kismet, has been a key influence in their creative aspirations and voyage into adulthood. In fact, Davis, who’s under the legal age of 18, wouldn’t even be able to perform without Momma Kismet by their side. Thankfully, they see this as a blessing.
“I’m very grateful for [Momma Kismet] being in my life to the point where she’s willing to go on all these new places with me and kind of be there as my emotional support parent,” Davis said laughing. “Although it has to be done for legal reasons, it’s such an amazing experience, getting to explore these new places with my mom, because I love her a lot.”
Davis has reached a point in their career that most musicians dream about — performing around the world for thousands of fans, receiving recognition from industry legends like ILLENIUM and Subtronics and signing a major record deal with Universal, all before they graduated high school.
As you can probably imagine, the insane schedule, late nights, and cross-country trips that come with the DJ lifestyle don’t allow much time for monotonous school studies and high school drama. In pursuit of their creative aspirations and determination to finish their primary education, self-care was often put on the backburner. Fortunately, Davis made it through and even got to celebrate by closing out EDC Las Vegas a week before they turned the tassel.
Despite its many challenges, high school was a fruitful time for Davis’s musical career. In 2019, Davis’ freshman year, they entered the Goldie Awards competition, an annual beat battle judged by industry giants like Alison Wonderland and A-Trak. Although they didn’t win the competition, that exposure proved to be a defining moment in Moore Kismet’s professional journey. They spent the next four years navigating high school and honing in on their signature sound, defined by Davis and their fans as “beautifully controlled chaos.”
Davis had a creative mind long before Moore Kismet introduced “Rumor” to the world during the Goldie Beat Battle. At just 10 years old, they came up with the name and concept for Universe. Even before that, they flexed their creative muscle by filming mock pilot episodes on shitty webcams and writing television scripts during science class. Music eventually eclipsed their other creative interests, but the desire to explore different artistic avenues never disappeared.
Up until recently, school took the majority of their time away from music. However, now that they’ve officially graduated, Davis is excited to get back to those other projects, but this time with a purpose: to bring awareness and opportunities to the black, LGBTQ+ creative communities through their own animation studio and production company.
“This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I really wanted to focus on curating creative stories coming from people like me — people of color, people within marginalized communities, people who are at a disadvantage to get their ideas to major networks like Paramount, Dreamworks, and Universal.”
It’s no secret that the black and LGBTQ+ communities are severely underrepresented across the entertainment industry, which is overwhelmingly dominated by white men. Citing the alarming statistic that only 17% of performers at this year’s EDC Las Vegas, including Moore Kismet, were female or non-binary, Davis expressed their frustration with this disturbing lack of representation.
“I find that to be incredibly saddening and ridiculous because there are so many incredible women in music that are doing a bang-up job,” Davis says. “There are so many incredible people and trans people that are doing amazing things. I am not the only trans person in existence. I am not the only non-binary person in existence. There are so many other people that you could be giving the same chances that you’re giving me. Why the fuck aren’t you doing it? Because it just makes no sense at all.”
It’s strange — The EDM community was actually founded by the black queer community, first created to provide a safe space to express themselves without fear of violence or judgment. Thankfully, modern technology now provides similar spaces on online forums like Discord, a platform Davis frequently takes advantage of to connect with people who share their struggles. In the early days of EDM though, only a few nightclubs in Chicago provided that escape.
Striving for healthier diversity in the EDM industry is a collective effort. Moore Kismet can’t do that alone. So, where can we start? What can industry people, A&Rs, promoters and journalists, and even fans do to encourage greater inclusivity? Davis says that change starts with exposure.
“Share newer artists with promoters. See where they’re at. See if it would be possible to get them at these shows, cause I could name 15 to 20 [LGBTQ+] people off the top of my head that would be more than qualified to perform at the art cars at EDC or at the smaller stages at EDC that deserve this opportunity just as much as anybody else. I think it’s incredibly ridiculous that I have to continue to be complacent in some regard to it because not everybody is willing to spotlight these artists.”
Gratefully, Davis is getting their chance and, despite their youth, Moore Kismet’s Universe is shaping up to be a mature exploration of self-love and their non-binary identity.
“This whole album is directly linked to me fully understanding that I’m non-binary and that I resonate within the trans community… I think it has been so great because of the fact that it’s tied to my identity. A lot of people used to accuse me of using it as bait or as a way to use it for clout, but that’s not even remotely close to true. I’m using it as a way to tell my stories because my stories are directly related and linked to my experience as a non-binary person.”—Moore Kismet
Universe is a powerful message to the world: it’s time to open the doors for marginalized creatives. There’s so much great art waiting to be discovered. We just have to give them the opportunities they deserve.
Discover Moore Kismet’s Universe on June 24th. While you wait, Davis recommends checking out these other black and LGBTQ+ artists making incredible music. And make sure to share their music with your friends!