Australian singer, songwriter and producer Grace Shaw has been making music under her moniker Mallrat since 2015, releasing her first EP, Uninvited, in 2016. Inspired by an eclectic range of rap, pop, and indie music, Mallrat shares her honest and clever narratives over refreshingly diverse beats and melodies. Since her first release, Shaw has gone on to collaborate with one of her biggest influences on 2018’s In The Sky EP and tour the world.
At the end of October, Mallrat played Chicago for the first time during a support tour with Maggie Rogers, and she took some time to chat with us before her set. Tune into the conversation below to hear about what first inspired Shaw to start writing, who she’d like to mentor her in freestyle rap, her tips for eating vegan on tour, and what she’s planning to conquer next in her career.
What was your first musical memory, either as a fan or wanting to play music yourself?
The first time I was like maybe I can do this was at a concert for a guy called Allday. So that was the most important one.
What was your first memory as a music fan?
I’ve always loved music. When I started listening to my own music, and got my first CDs, they were like Lana Del Rey and Florence and the Machine. And Azealia Banks!
Awesome! Speaking of Allday, when I was doing my research I saw that you said you were inspired to start writing after seeing him in concert, so how did that feel to be inspired by him and then end up collaborating with him on your second EP?
It was cool! It wasn’t maybe as sudden as it seems, because we became friends and toured with each other. He’s literally my best friend. I’m so protective of lyrics— [the sound of Mallrat’s Tamagotchi cuts her off] That’s my Tamagotchi, I’m sorry! I just got it today.
Nice! Where did you find it?
Just at a comic book Store! I saw it in the window and I was like everyone stop! We have to go in here. I forgot what I was saying…
Oh you mentioned touring with Allday and how you are protective of your lyrics…
Oh yeah, but cause we’re so similar and he’s my best friend, he’s kind of the only person that I feel like I can trust to speak on one of my songs.
Cool, and then you just had your second EP out this year, so what else do you have planned as far as new music goes?
I’ve got another EP almost finished, but I don’t know when that will come out.
Nice, so we can expect another EP instead of a full length?
I’ll probably do an album after that.
Do you have any teasers you can give or any new sounds you’re exploring?
Every song sounds very different to all the others.
Are there any themes you’ve noticed between the songs?
Not themes really...I just do a song. I don’t think like ‘this is gonna be part of a concept album.’ I want to make this song sound like the best version of that song, and then I’ll make another song that sounds like the best version of that song, and then another song that’s the best version of that song.
Cool, so your writing is more of TV show with episodes instead a movie?
I also love how a lot of your songs already have such a different sound from one another, where you fit in with the indie pop world, but then you also have that cadence and influence from rap music. So who are some of your favorite artists of the moment that have a unique sound as well?
So many! Like Kanye and A$AP Rocky...and Lana and Florence still. Billie Eilish. She’s so good! I love her new song “When The Party’s Over.” I like this producer called Sophie, who’s like— I was describing it to someone earlier and I said it’s like electronic music from 50 years in the future. It’s really cool and I like my friend’s band Cub Sport. The Jungle Giants. I love Ariana Grande and Charli XCX.
Nice, that’s a good mix of different genres. So as a fan of rap music, if you could pick one person to face off in a rap battle, who would you pick?
I don’t think I’m a rapper. I wouldn’t want to challenge anyone. I love rap, but I don’t think I’m a rapper. Some people are amazing freestylers. I’ve never tried it. Maybe I should try it..
Who would you want to teach you or mentor you? Kanye?
You know, Kanye is my favorite artist. But I don’t think he’s got the best bars. Probably, like…I love Lil Wayne’s style. I don’t know if he freestyles. But you know he never writes down any of his lyrics. He doesn’t want someone to take them. So he memorizes even when he’s recording. So maybe him!
Nice! So being over here in the states, what would you say are some of the biggest culture shocks, both as a musician with the different audiences, and then just generally? Any crazy food or anything you’ve experienced?
Nothing has been shocking, but I always get weirded out at the gas stations. Like all the different snacks, all the meats that are in the fridge just gross me out. Everything has been pretty chill or normal. Even when we were in Texas, I didn’t see anyone carrying a gun around.
Yeah, none of the Texas stereotypes actually happened?
Yeah I kind of expected to see that. It was definitely a lot of people wearing stereotypical things like camo and trucker hats.
Any cities that have stood out as favorites?
There haven’t been whole cities, it’s been more like different things that we’ve done that I loved. When we were in Phoenix we went to The Butterfly House. That was my favorite thing, like this big green house filled with butterflies. Chicago, so far I’ve loved! We’ve only been here a few hours but I got a Tamagotchi, had a vegan Chicago style deep dish pizza.
Oh did you got to Kitchen 17?
Yeah we did!
Oh yeah I’m vegetarian and I love that place. There’s another place called Kal'ish that’s not far from here, and they have really good vegan food.
That sounds sick! Thank you for the tip! Just like things like that, food usually is what sticks with me. I remember the other day we had really yummy bagels…
What are some of your tips for eating vegan while on tour?
Get Happy Cow. It’s an app that shows you vegan places nearby. The only time it’s annoying is like when you’re doing long road trips, there isn’t much stuff at gas stations. You can go to Chipotle or Subway or you can just get corn chips. I don’t eat much in the car and just have a delicious meal when you get to the city. Happy Cow is the bomb!
You already kind of mentioned this about collaborating, and you said All Day was one of the only people you’d let touch your music…but in the future, who else would you love to work with?
Well I really want to write and produce for other artists. So like Kanye is my number one. And also I’d love to write some really cool pop stuff for like Dua Lipa or Camila Cabello or Little Mix. Or produce something for A$AP Rocky. Stuff like that!
How do you feel about Kanye’s rants recently?
I feel like I always want to say something and then I check Twitter and I’ve missed all this new stuff. The last interview we were talking about Kanye and she said you know about half hour ago he tweeted and said he’s not doing political stuff anymore, and I had no idea.
Yeah I can’t keep up with him.
So it changes so quickly, but my biggest thought and feeling from all of this is just headlines, just clickbait headlines. People don’t actually watch the whole interviews. That’s my biggest thing, cause he actually hasn’t said that much outrageous stuff. He’s said a few things, but he’s made some really good points. Like Trump is the president whether or not you like it, so he’s said why don’t we try working with that instead of against it. I’m not a Trump supporter at all, but nobody thought that he would win because the media only presented what they wanted people to see. Like, this is crazy, but that’s why he did win. Because the media is not realistic.
Yeah, especially in a city like here we’re in such a bubble! Sorry to get all political on you.
Oh that’s ok. I’m no expert, but I just hate seeing Kanye taken out of context. I definitely don’t agree with everything he’s said either. I’m mostly…70% support.
Nice, anything else you want to touch on? I know you mentioned the new EP and you’re finishing up this tour with Maggie Rogers, but anything else you’re looking forward to this year?
I’m just trying to be a better producer as well as songwriter. So just practicing that a lot and being in LA a lot. I miss my dog!
What would your advice be for someone trying to produce their own music and having to critique your own work from that producer standpoint?
I’m still very new to it. I’ve only finished one song so that’s a good point. It’s hard, for me, to finish things, especially when I’m trying to do it all. But it’s also more rewarding when you finish it. And there aren’t enough girls as producers so I was like why am I just sitting here being annoyed about it? Why don’t I just start calling myself a producer? That’s the biggest trick! If you want to be a producer, just say you’re a producer.
Right, fake it til you make it!
With anything, if you want to be a singer, just say you’re a singer. If you want to be a journalist, just say you’re a journalist. You don’t have the job yet, you just have to create that reality.