CMA Awards 2018

Mallrat, Australia's Most Exciting New Pop Singer, On Idolizing Kanye West and Pushing Herself To Be Vulnerable

Michelle Pitris
Mallrat

Grace Shaw, who performs as Mallrat, decided to start making music at age 16 after seeing Australian rapper Allday live. Soon after, in July 2016, the Brisbane native released her debut EP, Uninvited, landing her an opening slot for Post Malone on a handful of his Australian tour dates earlier in 2018 and securing her first-ever U.S. gig, at South by Southwest, in March. On June 1, the now 19-year-old singer/songwriter/MC will release her second EP, In the Sky.

What were your expectations after releasing your debut EP?
It was just after I had finished school and I didn't want to go to university, so I was like, “I hope this goes well so I don’t feel obligated to [attend].” I knew it wouldn't be for me. Everyone wanted me to go. So I was really hoping my EP would go over well, but I didn't know how any of this worked, so I didn't have any expectations. I was just crossing my fingers.

How do you keep your music authentic with the pressure to grow up faster?
Even before I started making music, I felt a lot older than I was. The most important thing for me when I’m songwriting is creating a feeling and being very honest and vulnerable, which I’ve pushed myself to do. But it’s scary. My favorite songs are where the artist isn't trying to pretend to be something.

Kanye West is a hero of yours. What about him inspires you?
I know it’s a funny time to be a Kanye fan, but what I like about him is the way that he says exactly what he feels and thinks. He doesn't care that it’s going to be taken out of context. He just says it anyway. He’s not afraid to take risks. In terms of women in hip-hop that I love, Nicki Minaj is lit. [I like] Cardi B, Azealia Banks. I know it’s cool to hate on Iggy Azalea, but when she started out I was just starting to make music, and she was someone I looked up to. I still look up to her a little bit. And I love CupcakKe, how unapologetic she is; it’s super inspiring. That’s also something I really like about Kanye. In certain situations, I think, “I should try and be more like them.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2 issue of Billboard.