Blu DeTiger & Mallrat: The meeting of pop’s exciting new frontier
They may live on other sides of the planet, but Blu DeTiger and Mallrat now come together to interview one another, and talk new material.
Geographically, Blu DeTiger and Mallrat almost couldn’t be further apart from one another. The New York-based DeTiger is around 15,000 kilometres away from the Brisbane-raised Mallrat; the former stuck inside her home avoiding the city’s coronavirus outbreaks, as the latter contrastingly plans for the rest of a national tour, half of it already being completed - safely - throughout the last six months. “I can’t even imagine playing a show right now, I feel like it’s been so long that I can’t even like picture it,” DeTiger sighs.
Despite the distance between them and their respective country’s differing live music regulations, Blu DeTiger and Mallrat have a remarkable amount in common. The two are examples of pop’s new generation, blossoming on social media - and beyond - through hazy pop music that floats with its sharp lyricism, yet stings with cutting-edge creativity. In a sense, they’re both acts that have already made it, for the lack of better terms. In the same way, they’re both acts that still - despite that - have their biggest achievements to come.
For DeTiger, for example, her debut EP How Did We Get Here? may have only just come out towards the start of this year, but it’s the product of musicality decades in the making. She began playing bass at the age of seven, eventually touring - on the bass - with musicians like Caroline Polachek amongst shows of her own, including her infamous blending of bass guitar and DJing that quickly caught attention in a pre-lockdown world. Last year, her musicianship on the bass guitar went viral on social media, landing her in ‘one to watch’ lists for the year ahead (lists that have become 100% accurate with DeTiger’s inclusion, on that).
Mallrat, meanwhile, is a name no longer needing introducing in Australia; Grace Shaw being an essential of Australian pop ever since her entrance years back. With everything she’s put out, however, she’s pushed the limits in both sound and success; the lead single of her In The Sky EP, Groceries, showing evolution built upon in the lead single for her next EP, Driving Music’s fifth track Charlie, which again was built upon in her latest single Rockstar, out last year. The last track - warped ending and all - is particularly exciting too, being a taste of her forthcoming debut album, still being finished off.
There’s a growth sprinkled amongst Blu DeTiger’s work too, to further their shared Venn diagram with one another. Take How Did We Get Here? for example. It’s a rich seven tracks full of glitzy, guitar-fueled pop, from the most hook-centred - the incredibly catchy Vintage - to the most stripped-back and subtle - Kinda Miss You - to the most danceable, as shown through its disco banger but you’re crying in the bathroom interlude-style middle piece. It flourishes with edges of funk and disco, much like how Mallrat’s own music does so with touches of everything from indie and alt-rock to PC Music experimentalism; the Blu DeTiger ‘sound’ is hard to pin down, but you’ll know it when you hear it.
To celebrate Blu DeTiger’s new EP and the release of Flight Facilities’ newcoming remix of Vintage, we got Mallrat and DeTiger to have a little chat with one another, meeting online as we join together two edges of pop’s multi-faceted new generation. Take a dive into the chat below, and stay tuned for more to come from both camps this year:
Blu: So I heard you’re playing shows over there?
Mallrat: Yeah, in some parts of the country it’s back to normal and in other parts it’s like almost normal, like half-capacity shows, which isn’t too bad.
Does it feel like different energy since it’s been so long? Are people going crazy at the shows?
I want to say yes, but it’s also kinda just normal. Actually, we played in Tasmania and that was pretty wild, but Tasmania always has that energy.
I can’t even imagine playing a show right now, it feels like it’s been so long that I can’t even picture it. Maybe in a few more months.
What can you do over there? Can you leave your house?
Yeah, stuff is open outside - like you can go sit at dinner outside and go into shops and stuff - but mostly, everything is outdoors, but it’s also cold here, so it’s you know… [The weather] has been so cold, but it’s starting to get nice.
What’s your favourite restaurant over there?
There’s a Mexican place really close to where I live and it’s sick, I went there the other day. It’s fire. But I also like to just walk around and get my iced coffee and come back -
Iced coffee? In the middle of New York winter?
Yeah, even in New York winter I choose too. It helps keep me awake when I shoot videos, like TikTok videos.
Are you writing right now?
Yeah, I’m working on my first album which is pretty exciting, and I’ve been chipping away at that for a while. For a long time, it felt like this mammoth task that I’m barely making progress at, but in the last three weeks, I’ve managed to finally finish some songs that have made the whole album kind of make sense, so now it feels really within reach and I’m excited.
That’s the best feeling ever, like it’s all coming together and the pieces are fitting.
Yeah, exactly. It’s such a nice feeling. But there’s a lot going on. Tomorrow, I’m going to Sydney, and then we have a show on Friday, then a writing camp next week, Monday through Thursday.
Woah. Are you doing a lot of the production on it? Are you working with a bunch of people or is it like a small knit group?
When I was starting the album process, I was producing a lot of it, but now I’m not doing as much - I don’t know, I think I have trouble finishing things on my own. I’ve been bringing ideas to people and they’ve been working on it.
Sometimes that’s better, you can flesh it out how you want and then you get another set of ears on it. I love your production though, Drive Me Round is insane. I’ve told you that too.
We have to make something together!
We just got to send stuff back and forth, or when I come to Australia, if I ever come.
You can come stay on our couch.
I literally will, I’ll just show up and be like “remember that one time you said I could stay on your couch?” The last time I did that was so fun.
That was really fun! Remember when we were with Joey on my couch, and you were like “Oh, I just hate people with hand tattoos,” and I was just like uhmmm…
I did say that! I meant like bad ones though. Yours is a cool one.
I haven’t been thinking about that all year, it’s fine. I’ll just laser it off, you’re my queen - whatever you say.
What is your hand tattoo again?
It’s a butterfly! Have you got any?
No, I don’t. I feel like I’m just so indecisive that I wouldn’t know what to get, and I feel like I would just regret it the next day.
I think it’s pretty cool to not have tattoos because now everyone has them.
I know. But I feel like in 10 years maybe they’ll be back and I’m gonna want to get one. I did think about getting a tiger. What would I get though? A blue tiger? With a bass?
My housemate literally just left the house as I called you to get a tiger tattoo on her leg.
Okay, that’s cool. I thought it would just be cheesy though, like Blu DeTiger getting a tattoo of a tiger. It’s so obvious.
You make everything cool. Even if it is cheesy in theory, it would just be cool you know. Denim is like that as well, she’ll sometimes show me some shorts or something and ask if I think they’re cool and I’ll be like “hmm I don’t know”, but then she puts them on and yes, they’re cool.
I remember the first time I saw you in New York. Like, the story of how I discovered you was my friend Like playing me Uninvited, and he was like “oh, you have got to listen to this song - it’s so sick” and he played it for me and I was so into it. He told me you were playing at Rough Trade so we went to your show, and I think I met you there too. I remember watching Denim play - I think it was 212 by Azealia Banks - and thinking whoa this is so sick!
That’s so nice. Shout out DJ Denim. Remember when you were going to fill in for Denim? I also have this dream of having a band.
Yeah, why haven’t you done that yet?
It’s just because half of my music suits a band, and half my music doesn’t suit a band.
The stuff that’s not suited for a band you could make suited for a band, you can always finesse the sounds to make it similar to the record.
I think that’s so much work though.
It would be sick though. We're about to into live rehearsals now for something, so I’m getting the live show together again.
Who have you got in your band?
So I have Rex, my brother you know. He’s great. He did a lot of the EP that just came out; he worked on a lot of it with me which is great. He’s going to do drums, and then we’re going to get a guitarist / keyboardist, but I don’t know who that is yet. I’m still looking for the person, so if anyone wants to come play…. hit me in the comments. It’s going to be sick though.
Yeah, congratulations on the EP! It’s so good, I still can’t get Vintage out of my head.
I think we played it last time I saw you, which was so long ago. We went back in and fixed a bunch of stuff.
What have you been listening to lately?
I really like this artist Genesis Owusu.
Oh, he’s from Australia! He’s from Canberra.
Is he? I didn’t even know! He’s sick, he just released an album so I’ve been checking that out and he’s dope. What else have I been listening to? I don’t know, a lot of old stuff. Like, getting back into like Erykah Badu stuff. I really like the new St Vincent song, I just love her in general, I think she’s so cool. Oh, also the new Verzache album, he’s a friend of mine and he’s awesome, he just put out an album that’s really dope. You should check him out. What about you? You’re on the tastemaker vibe.
Well my favourite song at the moment is by Bladee, he’s a rapper that’s kind of like Yung Lean adjacent, and there’s this song called Rainbow Road and it’s so cute and dance-y and beautiful. Also, I can’t believe that no-one told me before that I would love The 1975, but I do. So much.
I feel like you listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop, right? Because I feel like your flow - like, when you write your melodies and stuff - I feel like your flow is very influenced by rap.
Yeah, for sure. It’s the thing I listen to most, probably.
Shout out to that, because I always noticed that your flow is so unique, and the ways you come up with melodies are so unique. I think when I originally heard your music I was like well this is sick, because I never would have thought of it. They feel so natural, you know what I mean? Almost conversational, but with rhythm. I’m a huge fan.
Thank you! I feel like when we last saw each other, you had maybe just started posting on TikTok. Can you talk me through what has happened between now and then with it?
Yeah, it’s been crazy. A lot has happened. When I saw you last, I think I had some songs finished and was ready to put them out. I was doing the Caroline [Polachek] tour, which a lot of it got cancelled which is a bummer, and then I was about to tour with Fletcher, which also got cancelled. I started posting on TikTok like every day, even two/three times a day, which is crazy. I was on another wave in quarantine, you could do whatever you want - so I’d stay up til 5AM doing stuff. I was recording a bunch of music too, but every day I would post a new TikTok that would get over 100,000 likes and it was growing really, really fast. It was transferring over to my other stuff too, like my Spotify streams were going up - everything was; everyone was finding me through this platform. Then, I put out my song Figured Out, which went viral on TikTok at the same time as all my old videos too, and then everything kind of happened from there. I finished my other songs on the EP, signed deals with agents so I’m going to do my own tour, did all the label things, did all the music videos, kept growing all the digital stuff and put out the EP. Now, I’m gonna start writing for the next cycle. But yeah, a lot has happened within a year, it’s been so weird.
Oh my god, sorry I don’t know what my animals are doing.
Do you have a dog?
I have a cat.
Oh! Don’t get it twisted, but I feel like you would be a bunny girl or something. I don’t know where I’m getting this from.
I don’t have a bunny! In Brisbane, we’ve got a dog and chickens.
I’ve had such band puppy fever during quarantine, I feel like everyone’s getting dogs.
How come you don’t get one?
It’s hard in the city, like where I’m staying we don’t have an outdoor space, so you have to get up and walk it every single day. I feel like I would just be like ‘what happens when you go on tour?’ because with cats it’s easy, with dogs it's impossible.
Definitely. I have a housemate and we both got our dog together, but my housemate doesn’t do music, which is nice. That would be hard for you though.
Yeah. But getting back to it, how is your year? Have you been writing this whole year basically?
Honestly, just chilling. I did a lot of writing at the beginning, and then I did nothing for months, and then in the last couple of months, I’ve gotten back into writing again. There was a long time where everything I was making was just not interesting, or I was listening to my old demos so many times that I don’t really like them anymore.
Yeah, sometimes you feel like you have nothing. I feel like I got everything all out at the beginning of quarantine when the emotions were so high, but once that settled, I feel like I had nothing. Like, I need some new experiences to write about. Have you found that?
Yeah, absolutely. The last few months here have been so nice, but I feel that at some points. It’s annoying because there’s nothing else to do but write, but you’re not writing anything interesting. So like, what’s the point?
Have you done any Zoom sessions?
I haven’t, have you?
Yeah, I did a few. One of the songs on the EP was written over Zoom which is kind of crazy, but after I did that one song, I can’t really write on Zoom anymore. It’s so hard to write, especially with people you’ve never met before - songwriters and producers that you’ve never met - because you can’t quite connect the same. If you’re in the room together, you can jam on something, but you can’t really do that at the same time on Zoom. You have to send things back and forth, which is kind of annoying.
Yeah, it’s a very clunky process. I haven’t done any yet, and I’m only just considering doing a few now for other artists’ projects that I am involved in. But I feel like still, I would rather facetime and talk about music and then do the process of sending the song, opening it up, making a few notes, sending it back again. You know?
That’s probably easier. We should do that. I’ve been doing Facetime dates almost with producers and writers just so you can meet them, and I don’t get into it because it’s hard when you just get on the thing and you don’t know them. It’s easier when you’re in the room and you meet them for the first time.
Meanwhile, everyone around me is getting dogs and moving houses outside of the city while I’m on Facetime.
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Probably New York still. I think my ideal dream would to be like having a house in New York, LA and then Tokyo and Paris. It sounds crazy, but those four would be sick, and maybe a warm place to go hiking - like Australia.
Have you been?
No! I haven’t.
I really hope they book you for a big touring festival like Groovin the Moo or Falls or something.
That would be sick.
Australian crowds are just so fun, and Australia is just a great place to live.
Are you happy being there? Because I know you were living in LA for a bit. Do you think you’re going to come back to LA?
Eventually, but I’m not in any rush to either. I’m really happy at the moment, but also, all of my stuff is in America, but I also have more stuff here. I don’t know though, it’s just been nice being in Australia over the last 12 months. I think the last 12 months has brought out all the stuff that I don’t like about America, and that’s made me very grateful to be here.
Oh, yeah. Like, how Australia handled the pandemic is so insane. Like, stuff has been open there for a long time with pretty much zero cases.
What are you doing for the rest of the night?
Well, it’s like 7:30PM here so I might go get some dinner and then I have to start practising getting ready for my live show, because a lot of my songs have complicated bass parts and I obviously wasn’t thinking about how I was going to sing and play those at the same time, so I’m sitting here until 3AM every night breaking it down and singing it and playing it so I can do it. It’s very slow, but it’s fun. What about you? It’s like daytime there right?
Yeah, it’s 10AM. I can keep chatting but if you want to go to dinner Blu please do it’s fine!
Thankyou! Let’s catch up soon. That was so great.
I’m gonna text you after this and we’re going to figure out some beats.