“I’m so glad that I didn’t go to Uni,” laughs 19-year-old Mallrat, AKA Grace Shaw, and we don’t disagree; academia’s loss is the music world’s gain, as evident from two charming EPs whose kaleidoscopic and wistful hues of electronic pop have established the Aussie MC as quite the intriguing prospect.
Earning her stripes in the “incestuous” Brisbane scene immediately after leaving school, it was her 2016 debut EP ‘Uninvited’ that, ironically, invited the world’s attention to her forthright tales of teen angst. The title track chronicled an aversion to parties, while ‘Inside Voices’ relates to not fitting in. The songs were, much like pages ripped out of a diary, intimate insights into the awkwardness that plagues adolescence.
“I think that I’m honest, and I don’t mind being a bit vulnerable in my lyrics,” she says when asked of the secret to her success. “I see that as a strength.”
Indeed, though her observations reflect the minutiae of her own formative anxieties, these issues are universal and unavoidable when growing up. “I just can’t imagine wanting to write vague things that are impersonal,” she shrugs. “A lot of label people will say to make a pop hit you need a statement that will connect with everybody - it has to be really broad and sweeping. But it’s the little personal details that everybody connects with.”
Latest EP ‘In The Sky’ develops these themes across five rousing cuts - the party beats of ‘Groceries’ belies its brooding narrative of lovesickness, and while ‘Better’ emits a dreamy ’60s pop vibe, it’s anything but sanguine. The breadth of production, too, is testament to Shaw’s growth as a producer - the slinky R&B of ‘UFO’, for example, suggests she’s drawing from a more vivid palette than before.
“I knew what I liked in production but I didn’t know how to articulate what I wanted differently,” she explains, “and now I have those skills, so the production is exactly how it sounds in my head.” Recently relocated to LA, Shaw considers this evolution and how the most artificial of cities might affect her authenticity going forward.
“I hope it doesn’t change me in weird ways,” she grins, and, again, we don’t disagree.
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Words: Simon Harper
Photography: Katherine Squier
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