As Moore Kismet, the electronic music project of Omar Davis, their first-ever live show was when they were around 13 years old, at an Arts and Music Festival in Florida. The event saw a sudden rainstorm that postponed their set, with Davis worried that they may not even be able to make it out on stage. After the sky cleared up, Davis’ first taste of the magic began.
“It was pretty crazy because it was in Florida and the festival grounds were set up like a campsite,” Davis recalls. “I ended up having to endure the humidity and the heat, which was not entirely fun. When I got to the festival grounds there was a rainstorm that shut down all production. They shut down all the stages, all the campsites had gone into shelter, and it was right as I was about to go on stage. My set got delayed about 30-45 minutes while they worked out what to do with the rain and everything else. And as things started to dry up, the sun was starting to go down. By the time I went on, it was sunset.”
The non-binary electronic musician from Adelanto, Calif., who uses the pronouns they/them, dreamed of playing on festival stages like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Electric Daisy Carnival.
Fast forward six years and Moore Kismet has achieved all those goals before even graduating high school. During finals week, Davis submitted their debut album, UNIVERSE on Thrive Music/UMG, which is due to be released on June 24, studied their subjects, and headed over to Las Vegas for the biggest dance event of the year: Electric Daisy Carnival, where they played the sunrise set closing out the Circuit Grounds stage.
Traveling and playing festival stages worldwide is a challenging feat for any artist, but the timing becomes even more impressive when considering that Davis would hop off stage and take an early flight back home so that they could still squeeze in a half-day at high school.
“It’s quite interesting when they are running a business and also in school every day,” Moore Kismet’s manager, Anthony Baca of Prodigy Artists, tells Pollstar. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Hey, we need to get this post up. We need to do this.’ And [Davis] says, ‘Well, I’m in class so give me a couple of hours.’ There’s a lot of maneuvering around there.”
Davis’ mother, Taurica Davis (known to Moore Kismet’s audience as Mama Kismet), has been her child’s rock throughout the creation and explosion of the Moore Kismet project (see sidebar here). While her child’s career has grown to become one of dance music’s most buzzed-about projects in years, she’s made it clear to the Moore Kismet team that school would take priority up until they graduated.
“It was very hard to get through high school while I was doing music,” Omar Davis says. “I really just wanted to make sure I wasn’t letting anybody down in [school or music] because I had unfortunately overbooked myself for so much that it just became virtually impossible to genuinely keep up with everything. But fortunately, I was able to make it through, although at Senior Awards Night it did kind of suck when I didn’t get a best GPA award because I was right under the cusp.”
While Davis didn’t quite finish with straight A’s, their senior year of high school saw them juggling the return of in-person classes while completing commitments made with major festivals.
“There’s been times when Omar gets off stage and is going to prom the next day, or Omar gets off stage and is flying back at six in the morning so they can still get a half-day of school in,” Ben Hogan, one of Moore Kismet’s booking agents at United Talent Agency, says. “Casually playing Lollapalooza and then popping back across the country to get back to school by lunchtime. It’s just a crazy experience from the booking side.”
In an unexpected turn of events, COVID-19 had actually managed to help Davis’ career as Moore Kismet. With school going remote for a year and a half, they could spend more time focusing on making music during the day. As they fine-tuned their skills and began garnering more attention in the dance music community, more bookings came their way. By the time live music returned, they were on the lineups for several of the biggest festivals in the world, with 2022 still promising to see performances at Electric Forest, Tomorrowland and Bonnaroo.
While Moore Kismet has had buzz within dance spaces for several years, Davis’ classmates did not learn of the project until the beginning of the school year.
“For the most part, they kind of kept it a secret until this year,” Baca says. “It became a thing where people started finding out. And that’s mainly because I guess the teachers started finding out.”
In order to make their commitments work with their graduation requirements, Davis found themself sometimes having to turn down gigs in order to make it to tests.
“Omar has been doing great in school, too,” says Shaq Millington of UTA, who books Moore Kismet alongside Hogan. “They’re able to balance this touring schedule on top of making music and school. That shows that they’re able to handle, even at a young age, the crazy aspects of touring, DJing, and music producing just killing it across the board. That’s what we saw, and what I think everyone’s going to see. This artist is able to do the job and do it great.”
Music has always served as both an escape and a type of therapy for Davis. While navigating the struggles of adolescence and self-discovery, music and production became a core part of Davis’ identity. “I think being able to write the music I write has given me the opportunity to genuinely figure out who I am, because my identity is also linked to my personality,” Davis says. “I see it as a way for me to genuinely get my feelings out and figure myself out in the sense of understanding how I’ve grown as a human being through my music.”
To call this past year a whirlwind for Davis would be a massive understatement. Virtual schooling made it more attainable for them to balance focusing on the Moore Kismet project and on completing their class assignments. However, August saw a last-minute decision to bring all the district’s students back to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. With having already committed to performances at Lollapalooza, Coachella, and EDC, the Moore Kismet crew needed to get creative with how things would all work out.
Davis’ mother worked closely with her child’s teachers, figuring out ways to get assignments early or extend deadlines so that they could still graduate on time while supporting a flourishing career.
“Because school was virtual, we would fly as early as possible and get to a hotel,” Davis’ mother says. “And then when we got there we logged in and they did school in the mornings. Then we had the evenings to do whatever we needed show-wise. When they told us they were going to bring school back, I sat down with the principal and the Dean and explained, we didn’t know you were going to be bringing school back. We’re still in the pandemic. We just had no idea. We signed contracts, so we have to make these things happen.”
While the balancing act between being a high school student aiming for a high GPA and simultaneously being a rising star in the dance scene proved to be difficult, the hard work paid off. This year, Davis was able to close out the Circuit Grounds at EDC Las Vegas and then walked the stage at their high school graduation the following weekend.
“That set stood out so much,” Millington says. “It’s crazy to see how they grew from being on the Cosmic Meadow stage last year to then closing out Circuit Grounds this year. I know they were a little nervous, as any 17-year-old that is going to be closing down a major festival – one of the biggest festivals in the world. And they really went for it with such grace and poise. The set was just so well done. They were going in at 4:30 in the morning and the sun came up at the end of the set. It was just a magical moment.”
To be able to play a sunrise set at EDC Las Vegas, especially one on the third day, is a massive challenge. “At the end of the long EDC weekend, you have to play a hell of a set to have really high energy to keep the focus of the industry,” Hogan says. “So you look down at Martin Garrix in the crowd at Moore Kismet on Sunday at five in the morning, that’s just really cool. And the fact that it’s happening organically is really special. I think we all knew it would be really poignant to play a sunrise set.”