Memorizing Pi & Maintaining Honesty with Mallrat’s Grace Shaw
By Rachel Cabitt
You’re two years old, sitting in the front seat of the grocery cart as you’re being pushed through the aisles, employees ogling at how cute you are. You’re seven years old, staring at the candy aisle for too long, and turn around to find that your mom is no longer beside you, and start flooding the supermarket with tears because she’s gone “forever.” You’re twelve years old, running through the aisles, piling your cart up with party mix, frozen pizzas, and your favorite rainbow sprinkled brownies, only to have your parent make you put three fourths of what you grabbed back. You’re seventeen years old now driving to the supermarket, doing your parents a favor and grabbing a fish for dinner. And now you’re in college, no longer shopping at the same grocery store you shopped at for eighteen years, debating between ramen or instant mac and cheese.
The transition between childhood and adulthood is foggy. Each year you’re living in a different place, the group of friends you’ve been hanging out with with for a month aren’t as much fun as you thought, and the job you applied for hired somebody else. But the grocery store, no matter if it’s a bodega, a Costco, or your local neighborhood market, is familiar. The party mix you always pleaded to get is on the shelf, the soup your mom cooked when you were sick is down the aisle, and those Twizzler Pull n’ Peels you always ate when you got stoned senior year wait for you at the cash register.
Walking down the aisles of Western Beef in Ridgewood Queens, Australian singer Grace Shaw begins reciting Pi. “Three point one four one five nine two six…” she quietly practices, memorizing the infinite digits of the mathematical phenomena (the current Guinness World Record for reciting Pi is 70,000 digits, dictated in 9 hours and 27 minutes by Rajveer Meena). Flaunting a high pony, baggy light washed jeans, and an oversized Corvette crewneck, she reps her late 90s heritage, passing by Lucky Charms and Coco Puffs, but voices the opinions of a 2018 woman, living a vegan lifestyle and saying “no to single use plastics.”
Since making a playlist for us only a year ago, Grace has released a single with co-Aussie Allday, sold out a headlining national tour, been on the road with Maggie Rogers, which she’ll be continuing in February when they reunite in Europe, and has made both Triple J’s Hottest 100 list and The Fader’s 100 Best Songs of 2018. And she just turned twenty.
“Can you still hear me?” She whispers into the mic. “Blink three times if you need help escaping.” Her laugh is contagious.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Grace discovered a new species of spiders as a child and sports a tamagotchi on her pant loop. She turns the quirky and the mundane into a catchy tune that will get stuck in your head all day in a good way. In an era of artists like Clairo, Banes World, and even the likes of BROCKHAMPTON, the studio and the stage have become the bedroom, and age is literally nothing more than a number. Grace fits right in at the top of the list of self-made artists, inspired at sixteen to start making music after seeing Allday perform (she’s since come full circle, collaborating on three songs together, including her single “UFO”), and started uploading songs from her computer.
A few months later after finishing school, Grace released her debut EP Uninvited in 2016. Not wanting to go to university, she hoped it’d open up other doors, but tried not to expect anything of it. Getting beats from Soundcloud, she’d bring them into the studio, letting the beat be her guide. “Hey, this party might be cool, I think I know those kids from school, but I only came for you,” she confidently croons over a light techno beat. Now two years later, she’s released her second EP, In The Sky, still chasing love but in a more mature and sophisticated manner, “Your heart's big as Texas, don't think you're reckless, but maybe you strayed from the cross on your necklace and now I feel selfish 'cause I miss my best friend, still skipping breakfast and higher than Everest.” Live, she keeps it straightforward, with her on the mic, and her DJ, Denim, on the decks, playing like they’re at a house party with friends, pouring their hearts out, instead of dancing on stage in front of hundreds.
Wearing baby pink cat eye sunnies with matching dangling gems on either side, Grace excitedly exclaims, “I’ll get the BTS! I’ll take a photo of you taking it.” She’s effortlessly comfortable, even thousands of miles away from home, far from the same grocery store she shopped at for eighteen years. She snaps a shot on her Contax, her “baby” as she calls it, what she’s captured her friends and life on. The camera starts whizzing, signaling the end of her roll. “That’s all my film from America now,” she smiles.
While life on tour has been a dream, she’s excited to go back to Australia and sit in her backyard, filled with rosemary bushes, bumble bees, and praying mantes. Among the craziness of success over the past year, it’s the simplicity of Mallrat that strikes a balance. “I just wanna get groceries, I'll pray you wanna get close to me…” her voice, tender, “And if you wanna get groceries, And if you wanna get close to me...”
There are no gimmicks, only relatability, the familiar. It’s the honesty and vulnerability that is so important to Grace, that her listeners appreciate, which is in part what made Uninvited such a hit. She’s humble and motivated, putting the best version of herself out there. The only numbers game she’s playing is making sure her Tamagotchi stays alive. Superficiality is out the door, exchanged for oversized sweatshirts, car rides with her crush, and getting back to home base.