Interview by Jana Letonja

Since asserting herself within the music industry with acclaimed 2021 mixtape ‘Demidevil’, Ashnikko has made her name as one of today’s most innovative alt-pop artists. On 25th August, she released her debut album ‘WEEDKILLER’, a collection of irresistible songs that perfect the bold, genre-blending sound that has defined Ashnikko’s work to date. After the album release, she will also embarked on her biggest tour to date, around US, Europe and the UK.

Ashnikko, you just released your debut album ‘WEEDKILLER’, full of equal parts naked vulnerability and joyful rebellion. Tell us more about the story of this album and what inspired it.

The album is loosely based on a short story I wrote about a fae paradise that’s been violated and destroyed by life-sucking machines called Weedkillers. It was a world that I was able to safely tell lots of personal stories within. I love fantasy and I love dystopian sci-fi, so it felt right for my first proper album. 

How exciting is it to release your debut album? How long have you been working on it?

I’m terrified and elated. Terrified because I have to relinquish control and put something I worked so hard on up for the world to critique and consume. Elated because I had so much fun writing and creating this world and I’m hoping people will be able to feel that. 

The album is a collection of irresistible songs that perfect the bold, genre-blending sound. How important is it for you to blend different genres in your work?

There are so many incredible artists who have paved the way for the modern pop artists to be able to collage and play with many different genres. It’s so much fun to play with sound and not confine yourself to one box. 

Your ever-evolving sound is anchored by a cheeky humor and subversive personality. How have you developed as an artist since you started your musical career?

My songwriting has changed massively over the years. Right now, I’m really really into folklore and telling stories from perspectives that are not mine. Im constantly changing how I write my music and approaching it differently to keep things interesting. IIm kind of treating myself like a student and giving myself creative writing exercises in my sessions. Tomorrow I might write a song from the perspective of a tiny bug. 

How did you develop your unique persona in the music industry, which includes everything from music production to clothes, to your vocal delivery and on-stage presence?

Lots and lots of time and failure, looking, sounding and dressing like an idiot, and being totally okay with the messiness of finding myself. My frontal lobe is now fully formed. I feel like I’ve finally stepped into myself and I will grow and change even more, which I find very exciting. 

Who would you describe as your absolute, biggest inspiration in music?

I have so so many. Björk, M.I.A. Missy Elliot, Paramore, Lady Gaga, Kelis, Mort Garson and many more.

After the release of ‘Demidevil’, you came out to the world as genderfluid and pansexual. How would you sum up your self-discovery journey and the challenges you had to face?

It’s very difficult to sum up a journey that’s so complicated and personal, and still in progress. 

After the release of ‘WEEDKILLER’, you are also embarking on your biggest tour to date. What is the most exhilarating feeling of being on stage and performing for your fans?

Being on stage is my favorite part of the job, to see the community that has formed amongst the people who listen to my music, to be able to sing together. Singing is such a primordial part of the human experience. That many people in one room, singing the same songs, syncing heartbeats, and moving together like a sea is a magic ritual. 

What is coming up next for you, after you finish the tour later this year?

I want to really sink into the mud, write music and stories, forage, take my dog on hikes, and be a human for a second. I just want to make art outside of work and recharge for next year. 

Talent: Ashnikko @ashnikko
Photographer: Alan Gelati @ Werth Represents @alangelati @werthrepresents
Stylist: Celia Arias @ The Only Agency @celia__arias
Makeup: Georgia Olive @georgiaolive
Hair: Claire Moore @clmorhair
Photography assistant: Stephen Young @stephennormanyoung
Stylists assistants: Oliwia Rozalia Filipek & Tom Pirello @oliwiarozaliaa @tompirello
Lighting: Studio 19
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Cover design: Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzen
Interview by Jana Letonja @janaletonja