Photography Callum Dorward
There are a lot of surprising things about Mallrat, Grace Shaw to her friends, folks and teachers. The fact she still has teachers in mind is one of them, she only finished school last year. In fact the 17-year-old is pretty fresh in a lot of ways, she started making music a year and a half ago. When her first single Suicide Blond began picking up buzz online she was 16 and balancing the feedback with her final year of school.
Now she's graduated she's free to really start enjoying all the hype around her: she's been signed to New World Artists; toured with Allday, her friend and mentor; and played in clubs all around the country. There's only one snag — technically she's not old enough to be in most of the venues that book her, so she has to leave straight after every set.
Not that she minds, a natural optimist she's just enjoying the ride. And why wouldn't she? As she points out, you can get away with anything when you're 17.
1. She has been at this for less time than you'd think.
"I started making music about a year and a half ago, when I was at the end of year 11."
2. She was inspired by Allday.
"I've always really loved listening to music but it wasn't until I went to an Allday concert that it clicked I could actually make it."
3. Once she knew what she wanted, she didn't waste time getting started.
"I sent a really shitty Garageband demo to the producer Tigerilla, he actually liked it and sent back a beat. We've been working a lot together since then."
4. Although a lot has happened in a year, she's taking it in her stride.
"I think it's better to be overwhelmed than frustrated. I guess I'm blessed that it's happening so fast and I feel really good about it."
5. Despite still being underage, her parents are pretty cool to go with it.
"I think I had to convince myself first. When I realised that I could do it my parents got on board with it as it happened."
6. Playing in clubs you're not legally allowed to drink in can be complicated.
"In Melbourne there's usually no problem but if I'm in Sydney and sometimes Brisbane I just can't get in, or I'll get in to play and then kicked out straight away."
7. But she sees her age as an advantage.
"Being young is actually a really good card to play, because if I stuff up I can just say, 'I'm only 17.' But if I do well it's like, 'I'm only 17 but look at what I'm doing!'"
8. Kanye is her hero and she's already planning her own empire.
"Down the track I'd like to get involved in fashion but that's something I'd like to do alongside music. I always want to keep writing music, doing shows and maybe writing for other people."
9. People don't always take her serious straight away.
"There are sometimes little things that are so obscure they're funny, but I'm sure if they were more prevalent I'd say, 'Fuck this.' The other day at a festival I arrived early with Allday, we were hanging out in the greenroom and the artist liaison was talking to him and our manager and didn't acknowledge me or my Dj — who is also a girl — once. Then he asked my manager whether the girls would be staying; I guess he thought we were groupies or something."
10. But she doesn't let her down, she feeds off people who underestimate her.
When I was little I was always watching Charlie's Angels and Legally Blonde, I love all that, I love being the underdog.
Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Callum Zero