“Hannah Montana of the rap game.”
It’s the tongue-in-cheek moniker that Grace Shaw gave herself early in her career as Mallrat, the best description the then 16-year-old could ascribe the bright, bouncy pop she made inspired by the likes of her rap heroes Allday, Drake and Kanye.
Smash cut to three years later and now when you say, “Mallrat,” you know exactly the vibe and sound we’re talking about. The 19-year-old is perfectly positioned to be Australia’s next big name in pop music and with the release of her second EP just around the corner via Dew Process and Nettwerk, stardom seems inevitable.
Much of her huge appeal can be ascribed to the seemingly effortless and irresistible approach Mallrat has to her craft. Whether it’s her music, her effervescent stage shows, her bold and striking fashion choices, or her seriously witty and funny online presence (with strong cameos from her dog/co-star on the rise Charlie), it’s all combined to amass a huge audience from Melbourne to Mexico City. Her refreshingly honest observations of day-to-day life, her relatably confessional lyrics, her penchant for cooking up simple yet sticky melodies – on a surface level there’s not much that separates Mallrat from her fans, as she makes it all seem so easy. Even her origin story is the stuff dreams are made of.
“It all changed at that Allday concert,” says Mallrat, remembering the … Brisbane concert she attended as a then tween. “He was someone I felt like I could relate to.”
That performance saw her headed home feeling inspired and soon after she recorded her very first attempts at making her own music. Sending those Garage Band gems off to a few producers she’d found online turned out to be that one in a million case where naïve confidence pays off. Her discernible talent was quickly recognised, and the foundations of her 2016 debut EP, Uninvited were built.
The EP would go on to fetch millions of streams and launch her career – first via indie incubator Create/Control, and nowadays via full-fledged deals with Dew Process in Australia and Nettwerk internationally. Its stand out tracks – Zane Lowe favourite ‘Uninvited,’ and the dreamy jam ‘For Real’ – saw her stocks seriously take off. Praise came from radio (including triple j, BBC and Beats 1), major music outlets (Rolling Stone, Stereogum, Idolator, NME, Vice), celeb gossipers (Perez Hilton), celebs themselves (Chloe Grace Moretz, Brooklyn Beckham, Lorde), all the way to global tech giant Google, who used ‘For Real’ in a recent ad campaign.
Since then she’s played pretty much every Australian festival you can think of – Splendour, Falls, The Plot, Listen Out, Beyond The Valley, Come Together, St Kilda, Live At The Steps – and supported some of the biggest names in music, including Post Malone, Allday, Peking Duk, and Maggie Rogers. And that’s not even counting the regularly sold-out love affairs that are her own headline shows – usually featuring a delicious Zooper Dooper ice block issued to each punter at the door.
“I feel like the kindest, most positive people come to my shows,” says Mallrat. “Everyone’s just dancing, no-one’s too cool for anything, everyone feels welcome. I’m up their dancing, I’ve got my friend from school [the Daria-esque DJ Denim] and I think it’s so good because you’ll meet a new friend there.”
Then, towards the end of last year, she announced the next phase of her career with the sparkling single ‘Better.’ Praise was once again instantaneous and widespread, garnering write-ups from the of the New York Times, international radio play, and millions more streams.
The song impressively placed 46th in the 2018 Hottest 100, which perfectly primed for the release of the anthemic follow up ‘UFO,’ featuring her former hero/turned friend and collaborator, Allday. The song was added to triple j instantly and has continued to build since – a surreal moment for Mallrat, as her hero became her equal.
“I feel like we’re two peas in a pod, so it’s pretty amazing that we can work together. I don’t know if there are a lot of other vocalists that I would feel comfortable asking to be on my songs, just because I feel like lyrics are so personal for me. But because he’s such a close friend and we always get where each other are coming from, it felt perfect for the song.”
And as for Mallrat – well, she just wants to make music that you can relate to. “I hope that it makes someone feel more relaxed after a weird day and they can just feel calm. I think it’s amazing when music can make you feel something and I’ve tried to do that.”