She’s still a teenager but Grace Shaw–better known as Mallrat–is a songwriter, singer and rapper from Brisbane, Australia who has has made a name for herself with a dreamy mix of quirky electro-pop and rap. She’s been on a worldwide tour from LA to London and cities across Australia, gaining more momentum at every stop. We asked the globe-trotting teen to catch us up on what it’s like to make music for a living, keeping it real on Instagram and what advice she has for homegirls around the world who want to make their dreams come true.
First things first, tell us about how you got your name Mallrat.
I got the name Mallrat because Grace was already taken by a girl from Brisbane. I figured I should get a different name and then I heard this song by The Orwells called “Mallrats (La La La)” and it reminded me of every teen movie ever. “Mallrats” is also a teen movie, so that’s probably why I’m like yeah, that’s perf I’m going to use that.
What do you think about shopping malls, by the way? Do you like shopping? Anything, in particular, you like shopping for? Shoes, jewelry, makeup?
I don’t love them, it’s not really my environment but I have spent time there. I like second-hand clothes and they’re not really at malls.
Your song “Better” is such a melodic, soft and sort of dreamy tune. Talk about the inspiration for the song.
I wrote it bit-by-bit over a few months. The chorus came really quickly; I was at home and playing my guitar and then took it to the studio and wrote the verses. I don’t know, it just felt very easy to write.
What’s your songwriting process like? When did you first know you had a talent for writing songs?
When you start you don’t realize that you have a talent for it, you kind of think that it’s really bad and you’re embarrassed to show people, but you kind of have to because you finished something and even finishing something is rare. So I don’t think I realized until the songs went well maybe.
I read that your rap heroes are Allday, Drake, and Kanye. What is it about these guys that inspire you?
I am obsessed with Allday and Kanye. I love Kanye’s attitude and I love every one of his albums. I don’t think I can choose a favorite.
Who are the female performers or women in your life that inspire you?
There’s a girl from Australia called Tkay Maidza who I think is really cool. I love Florence and the Machine, I love Lana Del Rey and Charli XCX; they’re a few of my favorites at the moment.
I love that you posted a pic on Instagram where you wrote, “I had a pimply breakout and didn’t get any good smiley pics.” It was such a real moment and something that we can relate to. So much of our social media selves is filtered and “perfect” because that’s how we wish things were IRL. Do you think this is especially true for women?
Yeah, I would say that it is. A lot of my friends follow a lot of influencers and everything is very edited and it’s often to sell products. I think it’s cool to be able to turn social media into a career, but everywhere it’s these really unrealistic beauty standards and I think social media has the opportunity to be a break from that. Plus, I would feel weird not being myself on social media especially because my songs are so me; I feel like people would be able to see through it if I was too polished or anything.
When it comes to fashion, your pix and videos often show you in hoodies, wide leg pants, chunky shoes, baby doll dresses with Doc Martens, Kangol cap, that sort of thing. It’s very reminiscent of the 90s. How do your fashion choices play into who you are?
I really like the way stuff from the 90s looks. It’s really comfy and I think it’s cool. Beyond that, I don’t know how much of it is has to do with who I am, but it’s just what I like.
I also can’t help but notice that you are not overtly sexy in the conventional sense — no cleavage-baring, tiny short skirts, tons of makeup, high heels. I find it refreshing from what I see among young women in music. You can say I’m being old-fashioned, but it’s an honest observation. What are your thoughts on ‘sexiness’ and having that as part of your image? Have you had any pressure in regards to that?
That’s not really my style, but also I don’t think it’s a bad thing either. I think it’s really cool the way artists like Nicki Minaj, for example, are very sexual and it makes my friends and I feel confident when we’re listening to her and watching her just kill it and do her thing. So I disagree with the idea that it’s a bad thing if it’s a real thing from the artist; but it’s just not really my style right now.
You’re on a worldwide tour right now doing a lot of all-ages show, which makes sense considering you’re only 19 years old. Do you find that your audience is primarily people your age who can relate to what you’re singing about?
No. There are a lot of young people at my shows, but sometimes I slip into “everyone who listens to my music is a teenager, cool” and then I’ll get to the show and there will be all these 29-year-old tradies just jumping up and down with their mates and they’ll know every word. I’m always very surprised but I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. It’s really cool that a lot of different people seem to like my music.
What’s the most surprising thing or things you’ve learned while traveling the world?
I wasn’t in Japan for music, but just being in Japan is so cool. I really like the way they don’t have to lock stuff up over there. Everyone is very honest and can trust each other. There are no security guards and everyone is very respectful and yeah I liked that; I wish everywhere in the world was like that.
What career would you want to have if you weren’t creating music?
I don’t know exactly what I’d be doing. I might be a youth worker or a journalist or doing something in fashion or a teacher. I’ve always wanted to travel, so hopefully, I’d be doing that. But it’s hard to say. I’m not sure what I’d be doing.
How do you hope people feel after listening to your music or going to one of your shows?
I hope they feel something. I don’t really mind what it is; hopefully something good. It’s easy to go to a show and not feel anything, so if they feel anything about it, that’s cool.
You are living the dream. What advice do you have for girls out there who have a dream but might be afraid to chase it or don’t know how to start?
It’s hard to even know what your dream is, so if you do know what it is you’ve got an advantage over most people. You should have faith that it can be done. I feel like I repeat myself when I say this, but just because there aren’t people in your life that are doing what you want to do, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. You just have to try and seek out people who are in similar positions to what you want to be in and then you could ask them questions and you will learn from them. You have to take the initiative to trust your gut and don’t let people tell you “no” because people are going to tell you “no.”
Get all the fun updates on Mallrat’s Facebook page
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