The future is bright for the Brisbane teenager
Whether you believe in them or not, we’ve got psychic powers to thank for Mallrat. After seeing Adelaide rapper Allday in concert, the Brisbane teenager (whose real name is Grace Shaw) started getting premonitions about being at airports and playing shows with him. “I thought, ‘That’s really interesting because I don’t know how that would happen – I don’t make music so I can’t imagine touring with him,'” she recalls, sheltering from the Austin heat in a bouji – and most importantly – cool hotel. “And then it was like, ‘Well, fuck it – I don’t have anything else to except school and I don’t really love that so I’m just gonna give it a go.'”
Praise be to the other realm that she did, because her debut EP ‘Uninvited’ was a blast of fresh air on its release in 2016, and that’s clearly just the start of something very special for the 18-year-old. Somewhere between hip-hop and pop, her sound is one of bubblegum electronics and diaristic lyrics largely pulled from her day-to-day – not wanting to go to parties, finding comfort in the company of friends – delivered with a poised nonchalance that’s effortlessly beguiling.
“A lot of label people and pop songwriters who aren’t necessarily that good, in my opinion, think you need a sweeping, broad statement that’s gonna definitely apply to everybody,” Grace says, before putting on a mocking drawl. “Like, ‘Oh, I miss you, I lurrrve you.’ But it’s the details that are the coolest things about being a person and little relationships of any kind.”
The laidback superstar-in-waiting first got interested in those little elements when she attended a summer programme in Cambridge while still in school. Though both her parents “were both really into writing”, it never really clicked for Grace until that trip. “Doing critical analysis was so interesting to me, breaking down all the little details that writers slip into things,” she explains. “I thought Shakespeare was so overrated, like, ‘I don’t get it, it’s just a boring old play’, but now I think today he would be a rapper. And it would be sick.”
Something else that’s shaping up to be pretty sick is her second EP, ‘In The Sky’. Due for release in June, she’s already shared two tracks from it – ‘Better’ and ‘UFO’, the latter of which features a verse from now-best friend Allday. Both showcase a huge step up already, with mile-high production that matches the emotion in her words and voice drop for drop. They’re sleek and strong, and ready to take on the world.
Levelling up in quality aside, there’s another key difference between the new record and her debut. “When I first started I was like, ‘Oh come on, I’m not using Auto-Tune,” Grace laughs. “But I’m obsessed with it now! It’s so fun. The way Yung Lean uses it is really incredible cos it’s dissociative, and the way Kanye uses it is very similar too.”
Yeezy, it transpires, is central to another of the musician’s prophecies for herself. She says she feels like something will happen between them in the future, quickly adding the caveat “but I don’t wanna sound cocky” with a giggle. Even if that hunch doesn’t pan out. she’s at least using it to improve her work. “Every day I’m like, ‘What can I do today to become a better musician and work with Kanye?'” she says. From her track record so far, we’d wager she’ll definitely get there. The stars seem like they’re on Mallrat’s side.
Mallrat plays her debut UK show at London’s Old Blue Last on March 29. For more details on the free entry show, click here.