Premiere: Mallrat Goes Galactic on New Single “UFO”

Premiere: Mallrat Goes Galactic on New Single “UFO”

The Australian artist talks about her upcoming EP, how one show spawned her music career, and her new single, premiering on V.

The Australian artist talks about her upcoming EP, how one show spawned her music career, and her new single, premiering on V.

Text: Jake Viswanath

There's something in the water Down Under. The great country of Australia has provided us with a diverse array of talents in all fields, including Sia, Hugh Jackman, and Kylie Minogue, among others. And as usual, there's an emerging crops of young artists that are prime to make their mark worldwide. This is where Mallrat comes in. The artist, simply known as Grace Shaw to those closer to her, hit the scene with indie-pop tunes taking an edgy spin on life, love, and weird things in the Aussie suburbs, such as the ever-catchy "Uninvited."

Now, after embarking on tour with Maggie Rogers and selling out headline shows back at home, Mallrat is gearing up for the release of her second EP, which kicks off with the premiere of her new single, "UFO," exclusively on V. And in a 360 twist, she's now collaborating with the artist that inspired her to dive into music. Read about that story and listen to the new song below.

I always like to go back to the beginning with interviews. So kind of tell me, how did you get your start in music? And how did you know that music is what you wanted to do for your career? 

So when I was little, like five years old, I loved music and I thought that I wanted to be Hannah Montana or something like that. I was really interested but I thought it was an unrealistic thing. I don’t know why. So then I lost interest for a while. And then toward the end of high school, I was just really not wanting to go to university, that wasn’t something that was going to be right for me. I was just trying to figure out what else to do, and I started looking into this guy called Allday and then I went to one of his concerts in grade ten or eleven. That was such a game changer for me. I’m like, "Okay, this is exactly what I want to do." I could see a lot of myself in him. So I started making beats on my computer and tried to make some demos on GarageBand. Eventually I sent them to some people who taught me how to record and how the studio works. I started properly recording stuff, and it went from there.

Interesting that one single concert inspired, like, ‘Yes, I want to do this.’ What was it about Allday?

I don’t know how to explain it. It was such a weird feeling. It’s pretty weird to try and put it into words, and it’s kind of even hard to explain to someone you don’t know because it’s a bit of a hippie thing. I envisioned that I would be doing shows with him and at airports with him.

How funny.

Yeah, it was so bizarre. And I was like, "OK, I might as well try and go make that happen."At that point, I wasn’t making music at all. I was like, "How am I going to be doing shows?"

And now, it’s come full circle because he’s on this new song. Correct?

Yeah. It’s so cool! And I was on his album last year as well.

Let’s get into that new song. How did that come to life? What was it inspired by? 

It kind of was just about feeling like an alien. I didn’t think about it too much when I wrote it. It just was like I thought the hook was catchy. That was the process.

How was it working with him in the studio? They always say all the time, “Never meet your idols.” Now, you’re working with him. Tell me about that experience.

I work with him, but he’s also like my best friend. On my birthday, we got matching tattoos and stuff on my 18th birthday. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without him. It’s pretty cool. I just wanted to be on the song on the EP, and I was like, this would fit perfectly, because I know he’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist [laughs].

How does being from Australia affect your music growing up? How did your upbringing affect your music?

I grew up in a city called Brisbane, which, well, it’s not very small, it’s a capital city, but still pretty small. You kind of know everybody. So I think a lot of music is inspired from that sense of boredom. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s still very easy to get bored just as a teenager. I feel that in my music a little bit. Just that sense of feeling like everything’s a bit small.

The first time I heard of you was with "Uninvited," and I actually heard that song when I was at the VMAs. They were playing it in the arena during the commercial breaks.

Really? That’s so cool.

So I wanted to get into that song. What was it inspired by? How did you create it?

I would have been 16 when I wrote that song, and it was just over the top of a beat I got sent on SoundCloud. I got the beat and wrote over the top of it, and actually there are a couple songs on the EP — there’s “Inside Voices” and “Uninvited.” Originally, I had toplines written over the other beat. For “Uninvited,” I wrote over “Inside Voices,” like all the verses and the chorus. And then “Inside Voices,” I wrote over “Uninvited”, Then I was like, "This doesn’t feel right." Then I just switched it, and that’s how they ended up sounding like they do. So strange. I always forget that. Thanks for reminding me. I wrote the hook in the shower.

Sometimes you get your best ideas just singing in the shower.

I know. It’s great because you don’t have your phone to be distracted by. For a lot of smokers, going on your smoke break is when a lot of my friends who smoke have thoughts and ideas because [they're] just in their thoughts rather than necessarily staring at their phones.

Take me through this EP. How is it different from your first one?

I think the main difference is with this EP, rather than just writing over the top of beats that I was sent on SoundCloud, it’s me going into the studio and co-producing everything. Sitting there and playing stuff in and learning a lot about production. So the whole song is a reflection of me rather than just the lyrics being a reflection of me.  It’s always been funny because lately, I haven’t been able to write any sad or moody songs at all. I’ve only been able to write happy songs, and I feel like often it’s the residuals of a year ago is what you write about. So, some of the real emo songs on the EP I wrote a year after I was actually sad. I don’t really know why. I think it’s takes time to process and figure out how to articulate things before you can put it in a song. It’s kind of like when you sleep, sometimes you remember things just subconsciously.

Do you feel like you’ve grown with this EP?

I definitely have more to do, but I think it’s a really big step up. The last EP is all the first songs that I ever wrote, so I didn’t really understand all the ways that I could manipulate vocals in post-production. I didn’t really use autotune on the EP, on the first EP, except for "Tokyo Drift." Then, I was like, "No, I want to be able to sing everything perfectly." But now, I’m such an ambassador for autotune. It’s so much more than pitch correction. It’s a really cool style of mixing. When used really well, I think it’s so cool and more than just making your voice sound good. It's something that I’ve learned a lot about.

Who were your other musical inspirations now or when you were growing up?

Kanye and Lorde are two really big ones for me. She’s so eloquent when she describes suburban life and being a teenager and boredom and stuff. It sounds like a fairytale even though she’s just talking about a really boring subject. It’s really cool.

Who would be your dream collaborator?

Definitely Kanye.

What is it about him?

Everything. I was trying to think about that the other night. Like, do I have a favorite album? Do I have a favorite song? Personality? But it’s literally everything. I love him so much. I love how he just says exactly what he’s thinking, and I love his music. I love that every album feels different. So beautiful. I just love everything about him.

What about Australian music? Does any inspire you or do you feel distant from it?

I love Australian music so much, especially a lot of the bands and producers that we have from here are pretty cool. There’s a band called The Jungle Giants, which I love. There are actually so many cool people from Australia. In terms of bigger artists, internationally, it goes like Flume and Sia. I really look up to both of them, but there are so many -- I feel like the community of music in Australia is really great because it’s quite small but also very diverse. I just think it’s such high quality. Everything is so good, and we’ve got this radio station called Triple J, which is very nurturing.

Have you performed live here yet? Other countries, the U.S.?

No, I haven’t. But I’m going up to SXSW in a couple months and doing some headline shows in L.A.

Are you nervous for that? How have Australian crowds treated you and how do you feel about new crowds in a new country?

The way I’m thinking of it, it’s going to be like starting again. When we started touring in Australia, you kind of get to know the audience that come in the beginning. You start in the smaller rooms, and you come back six months later and the rooms are bigger. Come back six months later, and the rooms are bigger. It can be tough at first, but it’s really exciting watching it grow. I’m thinking that coming and doing shows in America might feel like that again, kind of starting from scratch again, but I’m looking forward to it.

What’s next in terms of 10 years from now? Where do you see yourself?

Well, I really want to be a songwriter and producer for other artists as well. I want to be able to, for example, work on a Kanye album. I want to be able to produce songs for Camila Cabello or write something for her and Post Malone. I want to produce for him. Right now, I’m trying to build confidence in my production skills and trying to take those steps.

Credits: Photo by Michelle Pitris

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