Self-titled the “Hannah Montana of the rap game,” Mallrat is only 20 years old but has made strides since joining the electropop scene just five years ago. This Brisbane artist (real name Grace Shaw) brings a new funk to the electropop genre with her own twist of hip-hop and rap, and we couldn’t wait to see her perform for the second time (read all about how we first stumbled upon her at SXSW here) at Austin’s beloved Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater on October 23.
Opening for singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, Mallrat graced us with her upbeat, poppy tunes, contagious smile and adorable dance moves that had everyone else jumping around. A presence that is both calming and energetic, Shaw is truly a unique talent that is bound to captivate a plethora of new fans during her tour across the US.
Tracks performed include “Inside Voices,” “UFO,” “For Real,” “Uninvited,” our personal favorite “Better,” and one of her newest songs, “Texas” (which everyone obviously loved). The hour went by faster than we all would have preferred, a prime example of the saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” We had an absolute blast listening to Mallrat and were enchanted by her youthful flair and charming charisma.
We had the chance to chat with Grace Shaw before her set and hear all about her journey as a musician, her inspirations and aspirations, and highlights from her career.
To begin, can you tell me about how you got started with music and the story behind your music career?
Grace: I started when I was in high school, and I started because I listened to this rapper from Australia called Allday. I’d always loved music, but I didn’t feel like it was something I could make. I listened to him and then I went to a concert of his and had this crazy feeling when I was there. I had a feeling that I would be at airports with him and I was like, “That’s super weird, maybe that means I’ll play shows with him one day.” I didn’t make music at that point, but I was like “I’ll just give it a go.” So that’s what inspired me to start. I eventually put out my first song and then each song after that got more momentum, and then my first tour was with Allday.
What was it like writing an EP as a high school student and balancing school life with this new passion that you developed?
Grace: I was pretty shy about it. I didn’t tell many people, and after or before school I would work so I could afford to go to a studio. There was a lot of staying up really late. It’s actually pretty crazy. Thinking back, I would wake up at 4 AM, babysit before school, and at 8 AM school would start and go until 3 PM. Then from 4 PM till 7 PM I’d be tutoring, and then I would go home and work on music and be up until 1 AM or 2 AM and not do any schoolwork. So it was a bit weird, but it worked out for the best.
How would you say your journey as a musician has been since then? How, if at all, has it changed over the years?
Grace: I think I’ve learned more about music because when I started I didn’t know that much about it. I’ve learned a lot about production and songwriting, and I’ve learned to be more assertive and comfortable with my voice and myself. Those are the main changes.
And tell me about your name, Mallrat. How did you come up with that?
Grace: It’s not an interesting story, really. Grace was taken and I just needed a name, so I was at the mall a lot – we actually don’t call it a mall in Australia, it’s called a shopping center. There’s also this song by The Orwells, called “Mallrats (La, La La),” and it feels like every ‘90s teen movie. I just liked how it felt.
I assume that Allday is a big inspiration for you, but where else do you get inspirations from when it comes to music writing?
Grace: Other artists that I really like are Lorde and Billie Eilish, Kanye and A$AP Rocky and a producer called Sophie. I also like some electronic music like Flume and Skrillex. I like a lot of singer-songwriter music. I loved Taylor Swift when she was country pop, that was my favorite; “The OC” soundtrack, The Jackson Five.
What, outside of other musicians, gives you inspiration?
Grace: When I’m writing I don’t want to write about dramatic, beautiful things. I want to write about little details, flawed bits of people or relationships. I like the good and the bad in everything, and that’s what I find interesting. So contradictions, suburbia and normal stuff like that.
So you did eventually end up recording with Allday. What was that experience like?
Grace: It was so cool. By that point we were pretty good friends. He’s the only person I’ve ever gotten to feature on a song so far because I’m very protective of my lyrics, but I feel like we’re always on the same page. It felt easy asking him to be on a song.
What other artists do you hope to collaborate with in the future?
Grace: I’d love to collaborate with so many different artists on their projects. I really want to start writing and producing for other people. Kanye is the dream. I would love to write for Camila Cabello or produce something A$AP Rocky. There’s lots of things I’d like to do.
What has been your favorite performance or event that you’ve played at since you’ve started your music career?
Grace: There’s a festival in Australia called Splendour in the Grass. I really love that festival, and playing there was really special.
What made it special to you?
Grace: I’d go there when I was younger and going there was the thing to do in Australia, it’s the big festival. The crowd was probably our biggest crowd, and it was pretty hard to comprehend when I was on stage, so that was pretty cool feeling.
Is there any difference you feel performing in the U.S. versus back home in Australia?
Grace: Well, we’re just not that big here yet, I think that’s the main difference. We don’t have as many fans, but it’s been cool with Maggie Rogers because all her fans come early for the support act, so we get to play for all these new fresh ears. They’re all very open and want to hear something new. It’s been really cool. I don’t know if there’s any difference because of people’s nationalities, I think it’s just depends on the crowd more than anything, or what they like to listen to.
Your tour recently kicked off with Maggie Rogers. How has it been so far?
Grace: It’s been really good. She’s so nice, the crew are really great, the venues have all been really nice venues, and the crowds have been really cool. It’s been perfect.
Is there any particular city that you’re looking forward to the most on your tour?
Grace: Well, we’ve got a song called “Texas,” so tonight will be the first time we played “Texas” in Texas. That’ll be cool.
What’s next for you after this tour wraps up?
Grace: I’m finishing off another EP which is about 80 percent finished, and hopefully starting to write and produce for other people. Spending more time in America as well. Those are the main things.
Thank you for setting some time aside to chat with us, Grace! We already can’t wait to have you back in ATX.
For more information on Mallrat, her music, and whereabouts visit https://lilmallrat.com/, and be sure to check out our photos from her show below!
Featured image credit: Leigh Kettle/Shuffle Online