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Mallrat talks music and memories at SXSW

Apr. 4, 2018
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Mallrat is 19-year-old Grace Shaw who reins from Brisbane, Australia and has been taking up a storm for the past couple of years releasing music and self-edited music videos online. I had the chance to meet Grace for a quick chat right before she was about to head onstage and perform for a late-night showcase at The Sidewinder at this year’s SXSW music festival in Austin, TX.

Ambar Navarro: Is this your first time in Austin?

Mallrat: Yeah, it is!

AN: I wanted to ask because I know you’re vegan—what’s the best vegan food you’ve had in Austin so far?

MR: This morning we went to this really sick restaurant...called Citizen Eatery. It was really good! I had like a vegan omelette. They just made it with tofu and vegan cheese and avocado.

AN: How long have you been vegan?

MR: 2 or 3 years. 

AN: That’s impressive! I always think of Austin as healthy food since I’m from here but I wanted to ask—well, you’re about to play, what are you most excited about right now?

MR: This will be our first nighttime show we’ve done in Austin, so hopefully it’ll be really vibey and the venue looks packed. So I think it’ll be like playing a show at home, because the other ones we’ve played this week have been more industry-feeling. I think tonight will be cool!

AN: I also wanted to ask who’s in your lineup, because I know your music through your videos and you always look solo.

MR: Yeah! So I have my friend Denim DJing, and that’s it! Ha! And I sing and stuff. 

AN: Who have you seen or want to see at SXSW?

MR: I want to see Billie Eilish. Denim and I really wanted to see Lil Xan, but he cancelled his show so we’re going to try to catch him in LA next week, and Stella Donnelly, who’s a girl from Australia, and Hatchie from Australia as well. Those are the main ones I can think of at the moment.

AN: I know in Australia right now there’s a really good music scene happening, I just worked on a video for Cub Sport that my friend Brittney Scott directed.

MR: (Gasps) Really! Yeah, dude, they’re from Brisbane, and Sam from Cub Sport gave me my first tattoo as well! This little pidgeon. He does tattoos at his house with a little tattoo gun.

AN: Yeah, it’s funny—we drove out to the desert for the video, and I asked them if they knew who you were and they were literally playing your song in the car!

MR: Haha, I love them so much. I’m going to their wedding in a few months. They are the best and I love them so, so much.

AN: I’ve never been to Australia but it seems like such a supportive scene, musically. Can you talk a little bit about the music scene happening there right now?

MR: The main difference between the music industry in America and Australia is Australia is a lot smaller and it has a national radio station called Triple J, and Triple J has a discovery website and radio program which is very nurturing. People can upload their music and it’s how a lot of artists have been discovered, and it’s helped me a lot. Because Australia is so small, if you play festivals a couple times, you'll know [basically] everybody. 

AN: Do you think that affects your sound, too?

MR: The cool thing is bands in Australia don’t have to sound [like commercialized] radio pop to be successful. You can be successful without being commercial, whereas in America there’s not a nationwide indie station, and it's kind of disconnected in different territories.

AN: Right. It’s very separated by states and parts of the country. Where are you staying in Austin?

MR: I kinda don’t know, we just get in a car every day! (Laughs) It’s near a highway.

AN: That’s basically all of Texas!

MR: (Laughs) Literally!

AN: I know you’re really into thrifting, and Texas has the best thrift stores. Have you had time to check any out?

MR: Yeah! Today, we had a little bit of time to do some thrifting and I bought this awesome [mini denim] skirt. Denim and I were like, “Let’s do a photoshoot in our new outfits!” ‘cause Denim bought this jersey. So I was standing up on this chair in our room in the mirror to see what it looked like, and then it just ripped. It was only $5 anyways. 

AN: It was a short-lived fun experience! 

MR: Yes! I like that you can buy heaps of cowboy hats and cowboy boots. I really want to buy some new hats and boots by the end of the trip.

AN: Denim, how has your SXSW experience been? Have you two mostly been together this whole time?

Denim: Yeah, we’re staying together, so I really can’t get away from her!

D & MR: (Laughs)

AN: Are there any bands you want to see that Grace didn’t name?

D: [Grace and I] are into the same music, so it was Billie Eilish and Lil Xan. Billie Eilish is playing at exactly the same time we are tonight, but hopefully we’ll get to catch one of her other shows. 

AN: How did you two meet?

D: ln high school, we didn’t really hang out that much. Grace started releasing music like senior year, and she asked me if i could DJ for her. I had no idea what that meant so I said yes! And that was like two years ago now. 

MR: I’m so lucky that I chose to ask you, ‘cause we didn’t really hang out but you were just really cool. I just had a feeling. 

D: I’m so glad, ‘cause otherwise I would still be in uni.

D & MR: (Laughs)

AN. When do you leave SXSW?

MR: We leave Austin on Sunday and then hang out in America a little bit. Then, [we’re] doing a show in London which will be fun, and then [we’re] coming back and playing some more!