Ashnikko is blowing up. Having just wrapped up her first US tour with Danny Brown the London based blue-haired rapper has had a hell of a year. Her contagious track “Stupid” has become a viral sensation on Tik Tok, Spotify and Youtube – being shared by celebs such as Miley Cyrus – and she is rapidly making her way up the charts. A modern badass feminist, Ashnikko has found herself with an army of dedicated rebels here to fight the system, and we’re here to join the movement.
We caught up with Ashnikko during the LA leg of her tour to discuss her musical influences, ‘fake feminism’ and releasing personal demons through songwriting.
How did your journey into music start?
Santa Claus got me a pink iPod Nano when I was 1, then I downloaded M.I.A.’s Arular album and that was it.
Were there any artists that had an impact on your sound growing up?
Yeah, M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Paramore, Janis Joplin.
Where did the name Ashnikko come from?
My full name is Ashton Nicole, so I just squashed them together.
What influences your aesthetic?
A lot of anime, a lot of comic books, humour I guess. A lot of stupid slogan shirt (not on right now). Fart is my favourite.
You just released your Halloween track “Halloweenie II: Pumpkin Spice”. What do you love most about Halloween?
I love the lore that surrounds it, and basically the aesthetic around Halloween is fucking lit. I love dressing up in a costume because unfortunately, it feels like the only day of the year that the world feels like they can dress up like that, how they truly wish to.
True! Do you have any Halloween plans?
I’m dressing up as Dumbledore and I’m trying to make Danny Brown and Zeelooperz dress up as Dumbledore with me, so that we’re all Dumbledore on stage.
Are you going to do the beards?
Yeah! Well, at least they can be like a bearded wizard.
Haha, amazing. Your video for “stupid” hit 1 million views on YouTube within 24 hours of being released. How did that feel?
It’s on 2 million now! It’s been really cool, I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m so fucking pleased. I’m glad people like it, or, well I’m glad people hate it! Some people hate it. I’m glad it’s getting a reaction.
Stupid has gone viral as an empowering anthem reclaiming autonomy as an individual. Was writing & releasing the track a cathartic process?
Yeah, I needed to get some demons out. So I wrote pretty much that whole EP and I got them out. I still have more, I have more angry songs to come.
Once you get rid of the demons, there’s no more music.
Yeah, exactly. I’m that kind of person that needs to be heartbroken all the time to write good songs, which is sad and horrible for my mental health.
The track has been shared on TikTok by a range of people from different ages & backgrounds. Did you ever imagine that it would be so well received by such a diverse audience?
Absolutely not. I remember when it was on 600 videos I was like, “oh, sick”. Now it’s on 2.5 million, or something like that. I’m glad that it resonates, I’m glad that a lot of girls have found power in it.
You’ve spoken out before about the commercialisation of feminism, being used by large corporations as a marketing ploy. How would you counteract this in future when choosing which brands or organisations to partner with?
Looking at their boardrooms. Honestly, I think it’s only a good thing that the message of feminism is being pushed. But it isn’t a good thing when the corporations that are using it as a tool to sell things are not actually feminist within their own organisation. So, it’s a tricky one. Work with companies who are actually diverse and not fake diverse.
You recently kicked off your tour around the United States with Danny Brown. What have been the most memorable performances & off-stage moments so far?
Austin was my favourite show. Everyone was fucking crazy, I loved it. Danny Brown keeps wearing my merch on stage, which is hilarious, I love that.
How’s it been being on the road?
It’s really nice! We’re not on the tour bus with the boys so I have FOMO, I just want to hang out.
Getting to travel to all these different locations is really awesome.
Yeah, it is. I’ve cried in a Popeyes, which is cool. I had a meltdown in Popeyes. What else? I stole a portrait of a very beautiful woman in a boa from a green room. She’s on the tour bus now, her name is Hot Girl Susan. We’re going to get team shirts with her printed on them.
What’s next for Ashnikko?
I’m doing loads of Ashnikko pop-ups, I’m putting out loads of stuff. Nothing set in stone, but I have some fucking crazy stuff coming. Next year I’m probably gearing up for some projects, a project, who knows, I hate committing.
Sounds really exciting and can’t wait to hear more from you!