Riding in Cars with Mallrat

The Aussie cool girl’s EP, Driving Music, is the perfect accompaniment to late summer detours.

The flats of Brisbane were well suited for Grace Shaw to ride passenger-side in friends’ cars—music up, no particular destination in mind. “Some of my best memories are of my friends picking me up, and just going [wherever they went] until they’d take me home,” she says. “[My favorite] conversations [are the ones] in the driveway, when you don’t want to get out of the car yet; you’re in your own little world.” 

Shaw, who performs as Mallrat, explores these “little worlds” in her lyrics—that is, gently, rigorously cataloguing her mundane actualities, making them universal while not romanticizing them. On her new EP Driving Music, out today, song subjects range from Charlie, her family dog (“I hope your dreams are amazing/I hope I maybe sneak my way in,” Shaw muses on that eponymous track) to sympathetic sisterly observations. “That’s all her story, of what she has gone through recently,” she says of the song “When I Get My Braces Off,” addressed to and written in the voice of her 16-year-old sister, in whom Shaw sees a version of her younger self.

“She loves rapping, and I was exactly the same at her age: I would only listen to hip-hop, and just wanted to rap,” Shaw recalls. Whiffs of that genre can be heard in the singer-songwriter’s synthy, repetitious beats and layered vocals. “I have always loved Azealia Banks, Kanye, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler the Creator; I’d love to make beats for all of them,” Shaw says. 

Mallrat (photo: Tash Bredhauer)

Her catchy arrangements are indicative of a certain Aussie indie-pop cohort, including fellow Brisbane up-and-comers like Cub Sport, Golden Vessel and Hatchie. “We have a really healthy musical ecosystem in Australia,” Shaw says. “There is a lot of space for indie artist, and Brisbane especially is really punching above its weight.” 

As Mallrat, Shaw has long transcended her Gold Coast roots, having gone Platinum in Australia with indie smash “Groceries” and recently touring Europe alongside Maggie Rogers. Later this month, Shaw will headline a North American tour—ample opportunity to blast music in the car. But like any passenger, Shaw has her limits: “[Other than] playing shows and being around some of my favorite people, the honest answer is I am not really looking forward to [touring],” she admits. “I just want to be in one place for a little bit.”

Stream Driving Music, out today, here.

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