Photo + words by Ava Butera

 Grace Shaw, but most commonly known as Mallrat, is pop music’s saving grace — no pun intended. The young up-and-coming star is way ahead of years and truly has talent, something a lot of musicians tend to lack at the core of it these days. Mallrat produces, writes, raps, sings, and have most of the creative control over all her work. If you aren’t listening to Mallrat, you’re doing yourself an injustice!!! Do it now!!!!
I had the pleasure of catching up with Grace a few hours prior to her sold out show in Chicago at The Riviera Theater, opening for the legendary Maggie Rogers.

How does it feel not only to be on tour with Maggie Rogers, but to be on a tour with all female artists? I saw you and Maggie doing face masks the other night! This tour seems so fun!

It’s really cool! Back home in Australia, when we’re choosing support acts for our own tours we always try to have if not all female, then mostly female. I think it’s really important [to include female artists] and it’s just more fun. Usually, we only have a small crew, as in my crew. It’s only my DJ, my tour manager, and then sometimes a guitarist. But yeah, tour has been really fun. Maggie is so cool!

When did this Maggie/Mallrat tour start conspiring? I was stalking your Instagram a little bit last week when researching for this interview, and I saw y’all hanging out last summer at Splendour in the Grass. Is that the first time you guys met?

Yeah! That’s when we met. We supported her there. She played some sideshows for Splendour in the Grass and we supported her there and afterwards we just stayed in touch. But I only found out about this tour a few months ago. 

I’ve read that you are “the Hannah Montana of the rap game”. Would you consider her and other Disney Channel teen icons some inspirations of yours? Whether that’s just stylistically or even music-wise

Yeah definitely. Hannah Montana is the best! I still listen to “Rockstar” all the time and “The Climb” too!

Now, if you had to name a few, who would you consider your musical icons?

So many! I listen to all sorts of music. But Kanye -- that’s why I’m so excited to be in Chicago -- A$AP Rocky, Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey, also this producer called Sophie who I think is really cool. She makes electronic music from like fifty years in the future, it’s really cool. I really like the OC Soundtrack. Camila Cabello and Charli XCX.

I always love asking artists this question because it’s always so different, but where do you tend to find inspiration for your music?

Everywhere! But something that I’ve noticed that’s different from where I find inspiration is not necessarily always about telling a story, it’s about capturing a moment that reminds you of something or make you feel something. The idea that people can be good and bad people, suburbia, being bored, being a teenager, children’s storybooks, nature, just everything!

Even though they’re so simplistic, do you design your own album art, or have a lot of creative control over? I love them! They truly create a cool aesthetic!

Thank you! Yes I do! I design everything. I don’t know if the first EP cover was actually very cool, but I didn’t know what I was doing I was like “I need a cover!” so I went on PowerPoint to make it. I really like the In the Sky art.

So do you have creative control over your music videos too?

Yeah. I co-direct all of them. I’d love to be able to direct one on my own though. I probably don’t need to know that much about cameras, I mean I know a little bit about film photography, but I don’t know much about taking videos. I really want to learn to be able to do the whole thing or at least be able to know how to do it so I can articulate what I want better. That’s kind of why I got into production and mixing because I want to be able to do stuff on my own, but also be able to keep working. I want to be more collaborative, but still be able to know what I’m talking about.

You have a rap/r&b-influenced yet alternative sound. Although it’s very unique to you, do you feel like you’ve been influenced by the music scene in Brisbane? I’m going to be totally honest too, I’ve never heard of a hefty music scene down under! 

There are some amazing bands, but it’s not like I grew up making music with them because I was 16 so I couldn’t really get involved. Now there’s bands like Jungle Giant and Cub Sport, where I love their music but I feel like I’m more influenced by the internet than necessarily music in Brisbane.

I saw that your Australian tour in the summer was sold out! How did it feel to play sold out shows throughout your homeland?

Oh yeah, really fun! It’s nice when you don’t even have to sing and you can just go up on stage and kind of be the conductor for everyone else to sing.

What are some artists you’ve been listening to lately while on tour! I usually listen to the playlists you make on Spotify but haven’t seen a new one in a while.

I actually make a playlist every single month because it’s so fun, but I always make them private. I think I do that so I can listen to whatever and then when I find songs that I definitely love, I put them on this playlist called “Stuck in my head” on Spotify which I update pretty regularly. But I’ve been listening to so much Empress Of. Her music is so good! You should listen to “How Do You Do It?”, “Everything is You”, “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed”, and the chorus of “Love for Me” which is from her new album. She’s so good and she produces everything as well. She’s so talented.

What should we expect from you within the next year or so? New music? A solo tour?? I’d love to catch you in Chicago! 

For the rest of the year, I’m going to be going back and forth between home and LA just working on new music.

Ava: So do you live in LA now?

I almost live in LA. I haven’t got a place there yet but I live in Melbourne still and I love it there so much! I wish I could bring Melbourne to LA somehow. But anyway, we’re touring with Maggie Rogers in Europe in February and March. We’re also touring with gnash here in America in January and February and then we’ll go back home to do some shows. Then I’ll probably release another EP, then an album!

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