interview: the future of mallrat
For those who aren’t familiar with Grace Shaw, aka Mallrat, the 18-year-old Brisbanite says her first EP sounds ‘like Lily Allen and All Day mixed together.’ With abundant wistful production and lyrics soaked in suburban drawl, her tracks are equivalent to a lazy QLD summer. Introversion, insecurities and the humdrum in-between moments become the focal point, paying homage to her influences, before going on to create something fresh and entirely her own.
For anyone who has ever wanted to skip a party in favour of ‘someone to sit beside in silence,’ Shaw’s lyricism is like a knowing friend: witty, honest and comforting. You could insert the classic line here about her work being ‘beyond her years’ but that seems like an oversight. Mallrat is a project entirely of her years, her individual experience, and she wears her heart on her sleeve proudly.
We’re chatting with Grace off the back of an epic summer of festival dates and a short stint overseas working on some new music, so I ask her what her breakout year was like:
‘It was good. I didn’t go to uni last year, and I don’t think I will be. At the beginning of the year I was just working a few jobs and doing music, and then started doing music more and less of the part time jobs, until there was just one part time job left, and then I got to quit it, so, it was basically a super cool year… It’s crazy but it also feels natural and like it’s the right place for me to be.’
If Grace wasn’t doing music full time she tells me she would have likely studied sound engineering or fashion, the latter coming as no surprise given her eclectic style. I ask her what she enjoys about fashion and she expresses a sentiment not unlike that of her music: to search out inspiration, to blend, to create.
‘I really like op-shopping and vintage shopping and I have another Instagram that I use to follow stylists, brands and models… Also, the 90’s and old movies. I like a little bit of everything and hopefully it ends up with me not looking like my friends.’
In between touring and op-shops, I ask if she has had much time to work on the new EP, and what we can expect to hear given the glowing reception of Uninvited which landed in June last year. She relishes being able to grow and change freely, and describes the new direction she is moving in:
‘Maybe the second EP is like Lana Del Rey and Travis Scott mixed together’ she laughs, ‘It’s so fun not to have expectations, and just be able to make whatever you want… I’ve got a song coming out that I did with Constantine from The Belligerents… it’s kind of like a psych-pop rock song, it’s super guitary, and I’d love to do more like that….’
Branching out from her Brisbane life and travelling widely has surely had an impact on her creative production, and Grace mentions that she has certainly learnt a lot. While her lyrics are ‘still very casual and personal’ they have also taken on a new element.
‘I’m writing a lot more about supernatural things rather than worldly things,’ she tells me, ‘It’s more about angels and aliens and its quite strange but its kind of the direction it’s going in… It’s just about being able to know peoples energies and see things in them that aren’t physical but come through in their behaviour, so you can tell a lot about their spirit.’
As someone who says she always tries to see the best in people, this seems reminiscent of her growth as an individual, having to be pragmatic in an industry that doesn’t always have her best interests at heart. She describes her mentor and best friend All Day as integral in this process:
‘He drops so many gems and is just so supportive. He has taught me a lot, because he has been through a similar thing to me but has not always had the best experiences… He sometimes reminds me that people have motives. He’s really good at noticing peoples intentions, so its really nice to have him around for that.’
Previously, Grace mentioned an experience where she felt overlooked or mistaken for a groupie backstage because of her age and her gender. I ask if this is something she has continued to deal with, and she tells me about some recent experiences in the USA.
‘American culture is so different in how people talk about each other and talk to each other,’ she says, ‘it’s hard to know how much of it was a gender thing, an age thing or a cultural thing… but I found in a lot of sessions I was working with these old guys who would interrupt me and talk over me… It was good because even though I might not have come out with a song I like, I got to practice assertiveness and how to communicate with different types of people.’
And the USA seems something that might be on the cards for the artist, who mentions that she hopes to be able to head back over there this month.
‘I think I will be spending most of March in LA. Finishing the EP and working on some features and other collaborations. I also really want to start writing for other artists, so that’s why I want to spend a bit more time overseas as well. Id really like to write a huge pop banger for someone else!’
And with an eye for production and future hits, what Australian artists is she into at the moment?
‘I love Gretta Ray so much. Also my friend Oh Boy. We have a song coming out pretty soon. And my other favourite upcoming artist is called Sophie, I don’t know if a lot of people know Sophie, but they’re the coolest.’
Then, 2017 is full steam ahead for Mallrat, taking off on her fist headline tour in April before supporting Peking Duk on their upcoming tour. Not only a talented artist and young woman, after hanging up the phone I am left with the feeling that Grace Shaw is also the kind of person you could happily sit beside in silence, watching the people pass by in the local mall, basking in the mundane wonder of the every day.
Follow along on her journey here: