Growing Up and Breaking Out with Mallrat

23 January 2017 | 3:12 pm | Debbie Carr

Talking musical support networks, sourcing influences from other genres, PC music, and her favourite Zooper Dooper flavours.

Armed with a distinctive conversational tone, a string of impressive collaborations and an undeniable joy surrounding everything she does, Brisbane’s MALLRAT has had nothing short of a successful year. The 18-year-old singer/rapper has been steadily gracing stages across the country, following her breakthrough number ‘Inside Voices’, winning over fans and industry professionals alike whilst proving that age is just a number. Now, with another ambitious year on the horizon, the rising star is taking time away from the madness to focus on new material.

Ahead of her upcoming stint at Brisbane’s Mountain Goat Valley Crawl, we talked to Mallrat about finding support networks in the music industry, sourcing influences from other genres, PC music, and her favourite Zooper Dooper flavours.

You’ve had a really breakthrough year in 2016, do you feel like you received a lot of support over the past 12 months?

Plug into the latest music with our FREE weekly newsletter

I definitely have a little crew happening. It’s so nice, everyone’s so supportive. I think the internet makes the world a small place in a way as well, socially. It makes the bigger place in terms of art and culture but it makes it really small place when you can actually talk to all these people who are doing the same thing as you. It’s just been so cool having supportive friends that you’ve made from getting to work with. A lot of people ask oh ‘do you get taken seriously’ but everyone’s been really excited to have a young lady making music and that’s a nice thing. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with how cool everyone has been.

It’s pretty clear in all your songs that you’ve taken inspiration from just everyday life. Is there a song that sums up you and the Mallrat project best?

I think 'For Real' and 'Tokyo Drift' are probably my favourites that are out so far, 'Tokyo Drift' especially. They’re both very teenager-y, very nostalgic feeling and about all the beautiful, little things in life. All the little details about friendships and feeling love for all sorts of people. That’s basically me, I just love every single person in the whole world.

How would you describe your sound?

I think I would probably describe it as interesting pop music. There’s hip hop influence, electronic influence, and I listen to heaps of punk and folk music. I think maybe pop music but with a little bit of everything else as well.

I think we can definitely see that some songs lean more towards one style than the other. You’ve even collaborated with Oh Boy and Donatachi, which is just a whole other realm of dance music!

Yeah, it’s super internet-y! I love that PC music, it’s inspired by a UK collective that just makes music similar to Wave Racer and Charli XCX. Super, super artificial and really strange.

I feel like that’s really risen up in Australia lately, or at least Sydney, with things like Sidechains spearheading it.

Yeah, Sidechains is so sick! I wish they had Sidechains in Brisbane.

Goals for 2017! Maybe they should expand this year?

I don’t know if Brisbane’s ready for that... I hope they do but I think Sydney is definitely the hub where the concentration of cool internet people are.

A large part of it is the aesthetic that goes with the music, which you definitely have too. Your music is quite bubbly and pop-centric and that translates to your single cover art and shows. Have you thought about expanding the Mallrat brand into fashion, art or graphics?

I would love to get into fashion. I had so much fun with my merch, and I know it’s only one shirt, but I put a lot of thought into it. I definitely want to do fashion down the line but right now I’m just going to focus on music for the next few months. If I wasn’t doing music I’d probably be doing fashion or teaching I think.

Especially in 2017, that’s all kind of blurred in together anyway. I honestly can’t go to a live show anymore without seeing at least one Mallrat shirt. It must be a surreal feeling to know your shirts are floating around and people want to show it off and show you off to their friends.

That’s so nice! I think my favourite thing about the shirt is it’s a rip off of the Thrasher logo. I just love bootleg fashion so much! I would a million times rather wear a bootleg designer thing, as tacky as possible, than an actual designer item. It’s just so cheeky and fun! There’s a brand called Vetements, and that’s like my favourite because it deconstructs all the branding that we’re so used to, and it restructures everything in a fun and cheap way. Then there’s another brand I’m obsessed with called Vetememes, which is an internet parody of Vetements, except you can also actually buy it. I’m just obsessed with that stuff and re-purposing pop culture. I love it when everything has a sense of humour to it.

Do you like that in music as well? Obviously grounded in genuine things but do you like to have songs that have something a bit fun about it or a cheeky edge?

Definitely, I don’t think I could take myself seriously if I was being too dramatic. I think with art it’s important to be honest and if I’m being myself and being honest, I’m not a very dramatic or earnest person. I kind of look at everything quite casually and I think that comes across in my song writing.

In terms of being casual with your music, how do you prepare for gigs? Do you have a strict routine?

We definitely wing it. We started doing rehearsals a month ago before Falls Festival, that was kind of our only real rehearsal, and it paid off because we actually got so much more comfortable and confident afterwards. I really like feeding off the audience a little bit, which is a double edged sword because you’re meant to bring the energy and the audience feeds off you but I don’t know… I like being able to talk to everyone in the crowd because I feel like I know them quite well from seeing them on Twitter and Instagram and stuff like that. It feels like it’s just a room full of friends.

You’ve got Mountain Goat Valley Crawl coming up next month. What’s it like playing Brisbane shows compared to other states?

It’s so fun! I really enjoy playing Brisbane because all my friends can come along and it’s really more like a party than a show. Every single Brisbane show I’ve had the best time and it’s so nice, I really love doing them.

With Mountain Goat Valley Crawl, you have five locations with a stellar lineup, are you going to have time to dart around and see other people’s sets?

I really hope so. I’d love to see my friend Gill Bates play and also this band called WAAX that I’d love to see because I haven’t seen them yet, and also Moses Gunn Collective, I haven’t seen them before either.

What is it about these acts that you’re drawn to?

Gill Bates is just sick, he’s one of the reasons I feel confident. He was one of the first people I show my songs to before I put them out. The little Brisbane hip hop community is so tight-knit and it’s really nice and supportive. Moses Gunn Collective... I love their song 'Shalala', and WAAX just have a sick punk energy about them. I can’t really think of a lot of punk bands like them in Australia right now… we’ve got a lot of rock bands but they’re the punkiest ones I can think of, except Ecca Vandal if you count her.

I think that sort of show is my favourite to go to, like I saw DZ Deathrays at Groovin’ The Moo and Violent Soho at Falls and they’re my favourite sort of gigs – the really high energy, rock ones. I would love to be able to do that! But it’s also pretty good just having one person in my band with me, it’s a lot less busy. I’d also have to get a lot better at guitar before I did that [laughs].

Do you play guitar a lot outside of Mallrat?

Yeah, I’m trying to get better at guitar so I can play it in my live shows. I’ve got a few songs coming out soon which are very guitar based. I would love to get more confident and be able to do it live, that’s one of my goals this year.

What are some other goals you have for this year?

To be living in LA, to wear glitter during the week, and to say grace before every meal.

You’ve got the going away party coming up, is that because you’re moving to LA?

It’s an oversimplification of my travels. I’m going away for a few weeks and after that I’m coming back to the Mountain Goat Festival and a few other things, so I’ll be back for at least a month, and then I’m going away again hopefully to actually move. I didn’t really bother explaining it properly but yes I’m moving away.

I think everyone was overwhelmed by the promise of Zooper Doopers at your party. What’s your favourite flavour?

Bubblegum or fairy floss!

You’ve been featured on a heap of artists to watch in 2017 pieces, who are a few artists you think we should keep an eye on this year?

Oh Boy, from Sydney, who I have another song coming out with soon – he’s incredible! Definitely Gretta Ray, too. Allday’s album is amazing, I’m so excited for people to hear that. Japanese Wallpaper is killing it but everyone already knows that, he’s always killing it! I think that’s my recommendations.

You can catch Brisbane's rising star Mallrat at Mountain Goat Valley Crawl on Saturday February 11 across five stages, from The Foundry to Woolly Mammoth. Find all the details about the free event here.

Words by Debbie Carr