Hailing from Brisbane, living in Melbourne — Grace Shaw, a.k.a. Mallrat, is the self-declared “Hannah Montana of the rap game”. With a smooth, uplifting music style that incorporates aspects of hip-hop, pop, electronic and indie genres, Mallrat is a crazy talented young musician who is making a name for herself in both Australia and overseas. Releasing her first EP in 2016, and with a string of successful singles in 2017, Mallrat is preparing for her next release in June this year.
BYO had a chat with Grace about her run of Groovin’ the Moo shows, her appearance at the South X South West festival in the United States and what goes on behind the scenes in the life of Mallrat.
BYO: You’ve been playing Groovin’ the Moo, how has that been?
GRACE: Yeah, it’s been so fun. On the weekend we played Adelaide, Canberra, and Maitland, and they’ve all been so sick. They’ve been some of the most fun shows for me; I’m so keen for the weekend again.
It went like this, on Friday morning (I’m living in Melbourne at the moment), we flew from Melbourne to Adelaide, and then we played the show, and then we flew from Adelaide to Sydney. And then the next day we drove to Maitland and then back to Sydney, and then the day after we drove to Canberra and then back to Sydney and then Melbourne that afternoon.
BYO: Any funny Groovin’ stories?
GRACE: I was doing a signing, and I think a girl was a little bit cooked. She lined up for the signing, and then when she got to me, she didn’t realise it was a signing, she thought it was an exit! And she was trying to ask me if there was pass outs or something, so she could go out find her friend and come back. I was trying to explain to her that this wasn’t an exit and that she could walk back into the festival that was 2 steps away. But she was like ‘no no no no, my friend is at this tent’ and she was showing me photos of this tent that her friend was at, and I was like ‘yeah, I’m not sure exactly where that is, but that’s no issue because you can just go through’. And she kept saying ‘yeah but will I be able to get back’ and I was telling her she’s not even leaving the festival. It was so funny.
BYO: What goes into a Mallrat live show?
GRACE: We wing it, really. That’s pretty much it. For these Groovin’ the Moo shows it’s been really good. Usually it’s just my DJ and I, and because we know each other so well - we play all of our shows together - it’s really easy to adjust things at the last minute. We’ve also brought along our friend Kai who plays guitar and is also a singer, so we’ve added some acoustic stuff to the set so that’s been really cool.
BYO: Where are some of your favourite venues or cities to play?
GRACE: The Tivoli in Brisbane is one of my favourite venues, I think. And we don’t play Tasmania often unfortunately, but whenever we do, we love it. I don’t know why, I think everyone down there is really cool.
BYO: Tell us a bit more about your love for the Tivoli.
GRACE: I think the sound is really good! It’s also just a really beautiful historic old building, with beautiful carpet and chandeliers and stuff. We’ve played heaps of fun shows there, like we played the All Day tour shows there which was really cool. That was one of my favourite tours. And we’ve played there with Peking Duck and Thundamentals so it’s been really cool.
BYO: How did you start out making music?
GRACE: I started when I was 16 and I was making beats on GarageBand. I sent some demos to some producers and got to properly record some stuff, and then I uploaded the songs to Unearthed and Soundcloud and it just fortunately went really well!
BYO: What inspired you to start making music?
GRACE: For me, All Day was my biggest motivator. I went to one of his shows and had a really strong gut feeling that it was something that I should try to do. That’s when I started making beats and recording stuff seriously. I really appreciate the honesty in his music, and when I first heard that I thought it was refreshing and inspiring.
BYO: Who are your musical influences?
GRACE: I get influenced by so many different artists. Lorde is a big one for me, and Florence and the Machine, and Lana del Ray, as well as Kanye and lots of electronic producers! A bit of everything.
BYO: How do you write music, what’s the process? Is it collaborative or solo?
GRACE: It’s a bit different for every song! I always write the lyrics and melodies and stuff, but I do really enjoy working with different producers when we’re making the beats. Sometimes I create the lyric stuff, sometimes it’s the beat stuff, sometimes it’s the riffs and the melodies and the beat that all happen at the same time somehow. It’s different for every song.
BYO: Do you have any favourite songs?
GRACE: I really think that every time I write a new song, I’m like ‘oh my god this is my favourite song’, but it’s probably because it’s the newest. But I am really excited for the EP to come out. I think the song that I’m proudest of is called ‘Make Time’, it’s the last track, and I just really love the production around it.
BYO: What makes that song your favourite? Is it written about something meaningful?
GRACE: I just feel like for me it’s a tangible step up in my song writing and production. It’s not a traditional pop structure but I think that it works and I feel like I put a lot of time and effort and care into that song, and I think it shows. I’m really proud of it.
BYO: What do you do when you’re not creating music?
GRACE: I LOVE clothes and op shopping. And I love animals, and I love vegan food, and I love being in the garden, in the sunshine. That’s all my hobbies.
BYO: What does a normal day in the life of Mallrat consist of?
GRACE: Usually on the weekends I play shows, and during the week I kind of just wake up, have some coffee, and either go to the studio or just write stuff at home. It’s very chill, I kind of get to do whatever I feel like! I’m pretty lucky.
BYO: What’s one of your favourite songs to listen to right now?
GRACE: Oooh, okay; so many! I really like 1950 by King Princess; if you haven’t heard that you need to because it’s so beautiful. Also Young Thug’s new stuff, especially the song with Nikki Minaj, and I love the new A$AP Rocky and Roby song. I also like the new Drake song called Nice for What.
Mallrat will be releasing her second EP ‘In The Sky’ on June 1, and will be touring Australia in June. For more information, check out her Facebook page.