BIGSOUND 2016 — Mallrat

Words by Angela Christian-Wilkes.

At BIGSOUND we were lucky enough to catch up with endearing emcee, singer and Brissy local Mallrat, known to her mates as Grace Shaw. We chatted corporate evil, sister love and collaborating with interesting people. 

You’ve worked with some really cool people recently. I have to ask, when you announced the project with Japanese Wallpaper, was that legit?

Well, we are going to work on something on Friday. We’re going to do some writing. Actually, I’m not sure if [the project’s] a joke or not. We always joke about the world being flat. I mean, I don’t know! I’ve never seen the Earth from space so it could be flat! So we were like “Let’s start a Twitter! Tiny Flat World. Let’s say it’s a collaboration.” And we’re thinking, instead of music, it’ll just be complaints to Apple.

Can I join in?

Yeah! It’d be a good collab. I’m not sure if it’s still a joke, but it definitely started as a joke.

I think with the Apple thing I would be deadly serious. I’d be screaming about wireless headphones. I get really worked up about corporations.

And it’s something you should be worked up about!

My question was, how do you go about initiating collaborations with these people?

It depends. It’s either a label thing, like the E^ST one was. So their label emailed me and I was like “Yes, I love E^ST, she’s so cool.” Sometimes they message me on iMessage or Soundcloud, or I message them [saying] “I love your work, feel free to send me stuff.” Sometimes you start off as friends and you’re like “This is fun. We should do something together.”

And yeah, you’re pretty tight with Allday. Were you friends before you started making music?

I was a fan, definitely a fan. Then I started working with his housemate, so it’s like a small world. And now he’s like my best friend in the world, I think!

Can we expect a collaboration with RECORDER LIV anytime soon?

Oh yes! That’s my little sister! I am so glad you follow all these things. She’s 13 and she’s a genius. She’s the coolest person ever.

Is she very musical?

I think she is. I think she has a really cool singing voice. I think if she learnt anything else she’d be good at it. She’s one of those people who is ridiculously smart. She’s in grade eight this year and when I was at school she was hanging out with my friends and I because she’s so switched on.

Speaking now about song-writing, I love it when artists combine stories that they’ve seen and they can also be really personable in their music. For you, that’s ‘Suicide Blonde’ and the comparison is stuff like ‘Uninvited’. Before you started making music, were you conveying these ideas and feelings in any other way?

Not really. That’s a really good question. I really like people watching and that sort of thing. So I think I was always thinking about, but I never really did anything with the thoughts. People watching is so good. Sometimes it’s nice to just go and get food or get a coffee and sit down, just watch everything happen around you.

How long did it take you to start sharing your music?

It was a strange situation because the first song I wrote – well, I mean it was the first one I properly recorded and stuff – I very much had a vision in my head that I wanted to put something out pretty soon. I was sitting on it for a few months but it was still a short amount of time. I probably wrote it end of grade 11, recorded it the beginning of grade 12. So about six months, I guess.

Was that a scary thing?

Yeah, it was so scary, but I was like, “I don’t want to go to uni, I’ve gotta get cracking.” Even though there wasn’t really any rush but I put it on myself. I had a gut feeling. I was praying, “Should I put this out today? Should I not? I need a sign!” And then I got in the car and INXS was playing. The song’s called ‘Suicide Blonde’, so it was like “Oh okay, I better put it out!”.

My next question was actually going to be was when did you know music was the thing you were going to do when you finished school?

When I went to the Allday concert, that’s when I realised I wanted to make it a career. It was like *clicks fingers* that was the answer.

What has been the most valuable lesson or the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

I think I’ve just learnt a lot about people and to just really trust your gut with people in life and be honest and remember that so many people are looking out for their own interests, so don’t fall for flattery!

You interact with a lot of people on social media. Have you talked to anyone in far off places?

Yeah, the other day someone from Nepal was like “Do you love your fans in Nepal?”, and I’m like “Yes, I didn’t realise I have any [but] I really do!” (Laughs) I have been getting heaps of Japanese fans lately which is so cool. I love Japan and Japanese culture so much. Lots of people from America. It’s so cool. And I love that everyone’s connected, saying hi. So exciting.

And how is Charlie coping with all his new found fame?

He’s so beautiful. Did you know he has an Instagram account now? It’s CharlieGoldenBoy.

I’ll remember that.

He’s so good. We had to take him to the vet this morning because his eye is all goopy. I wonder if he has an infection or something. It’s been weeping a little bit the past few months and it will clear up and come back again and then clear up. So dad was like “I’m just gonna take him to the vet and fix it up.” Gotta keep him in the 20/20 club!

If you could plan a panel at Bigsound, what would it be?

Lately I’ve been really interested in how people write songs, not in terms of the process but how they build it. Because I’ve realised, the way that I’m not keen on writing is when people are like “I need to put a bridge in this song, what should our bridge be?”. But I think it’s really cool the way that people build songs. I was working with this producer, John Castle, and I just loved that he was so much about the song grow organically. That was actually not a very strong answer! I’m also interested in song writing but also love how people make that cross over into business so I think it would be interesting to have something like that.

Listen to the latest track from Mallrat.

Catch up on all our BIGSOUND interviews.