Friend of Woodes and rapper Allday, Grace Shaw (alias Mallrat) is a Brisbane-based artist whose music epitomizes the perfect balance of ethereality with hardcore rap. This may sound like two moods opposing one another, but with her high, melodic voice and accompanying beats it’s the best way to describe her tunes. In her songs she tackles tough topics like peer pressure (“Uninvited”), distanced friends (“Tokyo Drift”), and even the suicide of someone close to her (“Suicide Blonde”). With lyrical pop-culture references, each song is like a present.
Mallrat’s style, though, also sets her apart from other artists. One comment on an instagram post reads, “If Lorde and Janis Joplin had a child it would be you,” which pretty much sums it up. Her wardrobe consists of items like a kitschy logo’d oversized sweatshirt, a pair of wide-legged red plaid flannel pants, and flowy and ruffled floral pattern dresses, jumpsuits, two-piece sets… pretty much any silhouette you could think of. The one-two punch of catchy, danceable songs with the visual artwork that is her wardrobe certainly makes her performances unmissable. We caught up with Mallrat after her last set at this year’s SXSW to talk Texas, thrifting, and more.
ALLI (HIGHLARK):Hey Grace! How are you?
MALLRAT:I’m good! How are you?
ALLI (HIGHLARK):I’m great. So how’s the week been going? When did you get to Texas?
MALLRAT:I think we got here last weekend.
ALLI:So you’ve just been performing and hanging out – have you done anything in your free time?
MALLRAT:We haven’t had a lot of free time, so we’ve mostly just been trying to take naps and stuff. But I really want to do some thrift shopping, get some cowboy boots…
ALLI:Yeah, [HIGHLARK Festivals Editor] Brittany is really good with that stuff.
MALLRAT [to BRITTANY]:Yeah, your outfit’s sick!
ALLI: Is this your first time in America?
MALLRAT:I’ve been to LA a bunch before but it’s my first time in Texas.
ALLI: What do you think?
MALLRAT:It’s really cool. It’s really different to home. Everything here is a lot bigger, but also everybody’s really friendly.
ALLI:I also wanted to talk to you about your style. Obviously, you’re one of the best dressed artists…
ALLI:Where do you typically shop? What are some of your favorite spots?
MALLRAT:I mostly buy secondhand and vintage stuff and do a lot of thrifting. I’m interested in high fashion and I love high fashion, but most of my stuff is just secondhand.
ALLI:What’s your favorite performance outfit?
MALLRAT: My friend from New Zealand made me these awesome pants that are pink, and high-waisted, and frilly. She made them with recycled materials and they’re so fun. I feel like a flamingo in them.
ALLI:And she just hand-sewed them together?
MALLRAT: Yeah, it’s so special. For the little tag, where it usually has the label, she wrote “MALLRAT” – she embroidered it. It was so sweet, I like cried when I saw it.
MALLRAT: I like nice quality materials. I don’t really like poly-cotton or anything. I like stuff that breathes well, so 100% cotton, beautiful linen, or vintage leather or denim. I try not to buy leather new because I’m vegan, so it seems a bit hypocritical. And oversized silhouettes, just nice, classic, clean shapes. But I also love really stupid t-shirts – so just a bit of everything.
ALLI:What does that look like – what’s a “really stupid t-shirt?”
MALLRAT: Actually this isn’t stupid because I love Little Mix, but I took my little sister to a Little Mix concert and we got all their merch. I love wearing that. That’s not stupid. I love Little Mix, I’m not embarrassed by that [laughs].
ALLI:[laughs] And how was that show?
MALLRAT: It was soo fun. I feel like I go to so many quite ‘cool’ concerts and everyone there is so ‘cool.’ It’s really nice to hang out with your little sister and not know anybody in the crowd and just hang out and dance. It’s really fun.
ALLI:For sure. I love [your newest single] “UFO” with Allday – what was the recording process like?
MALLRAT: So it was a demo. When I started it I was like, “Yeah maybe I’ll give this song to somebody else and they can have it.” But then I was like “Actually, I really like it,” and then I asked Tom [Allday] to be on it, because he’s just the best. He’s one of my favorite artists and one of my best friends. I sent to him and said, “Do whatever you want with the verse,” and that’s how we made it.
ALLI:I like it a lot.So what’s next for you – you’re doing your American tour?
MALLRAT: Yeah, so that’s a few shows, and then going back to Australia for a regional festival. And we’ve got an EP coming out in June which I’m so excited about. So yeah, just gearing up for that.
ALLI:Anything else you want our readers to know – anything you’re looking forward to?
MALLRAT: I’m excited for the headlining shows in LA and New York. Sooo excited.
ALLI:Yeah, that’s gonna be great. People love you, for real.
MALLRAT: Thank you.
ALLI:And I heard you’re going to Wal-Mart later today for the first time?
MALLRAT: Yeah! I have to check that out while I’m here!
ALLI:That’ll definitely be the peak of your trip. That’s American culture at its finest and at its worst.