Scott Evan Davis is a New York City-based composer, lyricist, and social media influencer, who has been publicly proclaimed as “The Prince of Snarkness,” (a sarcastic coffee drinking persona). After working as an actor around the country, he began composing in 2010, and since then has gained widespread recognition in the worlds of musical theatre and cabaret.
His most recent single Falling Everyday was released this month. It was written about Davis’s struggles with Imposter Syndrome and was created live on TikTok. His musical Powerful Day, which was written with and for autistic children at PS94 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, won the Musical Theatre International’s prestigious Courage in Theatre Award. Other awards include the 2017 MAC Award for Best Song, the 2012 BroadwayWorld Award for Best Original Song for If We Say Goodbye, and the 2016 ASCAP Award for his song, If The World Only Knew, for its social message. That song has been performed globally and has become an anthem for the autistic community.
Currently, Scott is developing his first full-length musical called Indigo, with Sing Out Louise Productions. The show is about an autistic non-verbal girl who teaches everyone around her how to truly communicate. He has also recently signed a commission to write the songs for a new musical called Next Big Hit, directed by Justin Guarini (American idol), and is the current musical director for Epic Players, which is a neurodiverse professional theatre company in New York. Check out our exclusive interview with Scott on his latest projects and embodying “The Prince of Snarkness”.
Tell us about “The Prince Of Snarkness.” What is that all about?
I wish I could take credit for the name “Prince of Snarkness”. But, after I started saying sarcastic things on Instagram and TikTok, and my accounts started to blow up, I had a follower call me that. Once I read it, I immediately messaged them and asked if I could start using it, and they said yes. So, I created the hashtag and it’s become a wonderful way to describe my content. When I first started TikTok, I had no idea what kind of account I was going for, I was just doing it for fun. But, since sarcasm and humor are the things that I enjoy most, I organically fell into it. I think my goal is to highlight the things about humans that we can all agree on and laugh at. There is so much division in the world, and we mostly focus on the things that separate us from each other. By making light of human characteristics that we all experience in one way or another, was my way of helping us forget our differences for a minute. I had no idea it would create the following it has, but here we are. Also, it does not go unnoticed by me that the abbreviation for Prince of Snarkness is POS…lucky coincidence.
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Tell us about your childhood, where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in New Jersey called Jackson. When my parents split up around 14 years old, I moved in with my mother in another town 15 minutes away called Freehold. My childhood was, like many people, an interesting one. I was always a unique kid, but I also knew how to adapt to all different kinds of people. I had friends from every walk of life, and somehow enjoyed all of them. When I was younger, I wanted to be a professional bowler and even trained every Saturday with my grandfather (who was a great bowler) because I was very serious about it. Once I found theatre and music, I sort of let bowling fall to the waist side. I also really wanted to grow up and be a cartoonist, but never went to school for it, Again, I think my love of theatre superseded any other interest.
What encouraged the transition from acting to composing?
When I tell you that all of my life, singing, and acting was the ONLY thing that I cared about, I would be telling you the truth. Performing arts high school, musical theatre college, and then working professionally as an equity actor for my entire 20’s.
When I was in musical theatre college, I had a teacher that really took me under his wing, and he became my mentor. He taught me everything I know about acting through a song and singing and connecting as a performer. He passed away far too young sadly, but what he taught me remains.
When I was 30, I was in an Off-Broadway play called “Joy”, here in NYC, and I wasn’t going through a fantastic time. Personally, my life was at a low point, (ironic being that I was in a play called “Joy”) and one night, I had a dream of my teacher. In the dream, he was healthy and hugged me and I felt like we reconnected after all of those years. While he was hugging me, he hummed a melody. I found it comforting in the dream, but when I woke up, I could not get it out of my head. I had always played the piano, even though I never dreamed of writing anything. I had no interest in it. But something about this melody and the fact that I couldn’t get it out of my head the next day, made me sit at a piano and play it out. That became my first song. I called it “Cautiously Optimistic”, and I’ve been a composer ever since.
What song from your debut album means the most to you?
The song “Cautiously Optimistic”, was my first song, and then I wrote an album with that title and dedicated it to my teacher. But even though that was the melody that had been hummed in the dream, I can’t say it’s the song that means the most to me today. I would say the final track of that album, called “I Am” means the most to me. I don’t often write autobiographical songs, but this was my first one. Also, I don’t normally sing my own music. I generally prefer to work with incredible talents and see how they interpret my songs, but this one I decided to sing. I think that is the most special one on my first album to me.
You have openly discussed your struggles with imposter syndrome, how has that impacted your work? You wrote a song called “Falling Everyday” about it.
I think imposter syndrome is something I didn’t even know I had until I started becoming successful. When I was younger, I was so unedited and unafraid, it was almost blind confidence. As an actor, I knew I had training and I felt confident that I knew what I was doing or thought I did anyway. Because I shifted careers at 30, to being a composer/lyricist, without ever having a piano lesson, never going to music school, and never learning how to write a song…I felt absolutely scared that the entire professional world would call me out as a fraud and laugh at me for being so untrained. When I started gaining success, put out a few albums, and started winning songwriting awards (I won an ASCAP award, MAC award, and Broadway World award) the imposter syndrome started to take shape. I am learning how to deal with it because it is just a story I tell myself. It really doesn’t matter how many people hold your work up and complement it, because in your heart you always feel it is undeserved, but I am getting better.
I go live on TikTok every morning, and do a sort of talk show, and sometimes I sit at the piano. One day a few months ago, I decided to start writing a song in front of everyone and face my imposter syndrome head-on. That song ended up being called “Falling Everyday” and it is very much how I feel about it all. It was released to iTunes, so feel free to take a listen!
Tell us a bit about your first full-length musical “Indigo.”
“Indigo” is a story about a non-verbal autistic girl and a grandmother with dementia that she lives with. It’s a family story about generations of women and how one girl who finds it hard to communicate, teaches everyone else around her how to. Working with the autistic community has been a big part of my career and life, and I was so grateful to meet Broadway producers who believed in the piece and have helped develop it. Before the pandemic hit, we had just finished our third Pre-Broadway workshop. Everything sadly halted, like the rest of the world, but we just got word that a theatre in Ohio will be producing it next spring and I am so excited to see it on the stage finally.
I understand that your new musical powerful day was written with and for autistic children at P94. What inspired that?
When I was just starting to compose, I was also working as a teaching artist. I would go into schools and do theatre workshops and I loved that work. I had been told about a group of autistic students who wanted to write their own original musicial on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, and that they were searching for a composer/teacher. So, I interviewed and luckily got the job. On my first day, I was asked to come in and just talk to them about the kind of show they wanted to write. I had never worked with autistic students before, so I was a bit nervous, but once we all started talking as a group, it became clear that I was home. After that first conversation, I went home and wrote a song called “If the World Only Knew”. I came in a few days later and taught it to them, and it became the opening number to the show.
Since then, the song has been sung in every corner of the world and has been covered hundreds of times, sung by Broadway icons, and in choruses around the world. It is my most successful song, and I couldn’t be prouder of it. On the dress rehearsal of our show, a lot of press was there. In the back of the room, I saw a man walk in, and take his seat. It was Stephen Sondheim. I couldn’t believe he was there, and he was about to hear my music. He cried at that song, and I will never ever forget that experience.
What has been your favorite project of your career so far?
Hands down, it is developing “Indigo”. The love and passion for the piece that I have felt from all involved have been remarkable. It was very important to me, and the creative team, to hire an autistic actress to play the lead role, rather than have someone pretending. We found the most incredible girl, and all our lives were changed because of it. Being in a room with Broadway legends, and newcomers, all working towards a piece that I had in my head for years prior, was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I can’t wait to get back into the rehearsal room next Spring.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?
I love stupid reality TV. I can be a very lazy person, but also the most driven person you will ever meet. It depends on the day. I am a huge plant lover, and my apartment is filled with them. If I could pick a career that wasn’t what I currently do, it would be a chef. I love to cook. I work really hard, but I also relax just as hard. It’s a balance.
Are there any mantras that you live by?
Yes. Stephen Sondheim wrote lyrics to a song that has never left me. I think about it almost every day. The lyric is “The choice may have been mistaken but the choosing was not.” I love that line because it says what I feel, I don’t believe in regrets. I do believe that everything happens the way it is meant to, even if we don’t realize why at the time. It’s all about karmic debt and what we are paying. So, even if a choice is wrong in the moment, the choosing of it is not. I think it’s a brilliant line from a brilliant man.
Any plans for 2022 that you can share?
It’s been a few years since I have done a concert of new music, and I have never done an autobiographical one, but on May 21st, 2022, I am doing just that. I want to use humor and sarcasm to talk about my life and my experiences, using my music as commentary. I am very excited about it. We also have two workshops planned for “Indigo” to get us ready for a stage production. I am doing a cabaret at Lincoln Center with Epic Players, which is a neurodiverse theatre company that I musically direct for in April. I hope to write more new music and continue to try my best to add beauty to a world that desperately needs it.