Ashnikko knows how to make an entrance. At the 2020 Brit Awards, we saw her walk the red carpet with her metres of blue hair carried by two men behind her (“Tonight I’m playing Ashnikko Femdom,” she told NME at the time.)
And her entrance at Reading Festival is no different. The genre-splicing artist arrives for her NME interview with a huge “psychedelic pussy bear” – as she puts it – in tow. The huge pink animal is adorned with vaginal markings, and Ashnikko explains that she came up for the idea for her new pal – who also appears on stage in her brilliantly chaotic show at Reading Festival’s Lock Up Stage – when she was in the shower.
“I got out of the shower, I drew it, and here we are,” she laughs. “I’m living the dream. When I first saw them [the bear costumes] come out of the box I was like, ‘Wow – what the fuck is life? The simulation is crazy!’”
Ashnikko’s killer Reading Festival performance is one of the first shows she’s been able to play post-pandemic, and these early gigs have been a thrill. “It’s been really emotional, I got off stage at Boardmasters and I just started crying, just sobbing… It’s been really weird, but I’m so happy.”
These new shows have also given the artists the chance to road-test new music, including the trap-inflected, pop-punk belter ‘Maggots’. It was written with her collaborators Oscar Scheller and Tom Slinger, and Ashnikko explains that the song “is just me being very aggro, talking about pussy and cheese string dick.” She also reveals that this new song is part of early work on her upcoming album – the followup to this January’s stellar ‘Demidevil’ mixtape.
“Album is a really loaded word,” she adds. I’ve been putting off an album for some time now, I called the last one a mixtape, [but] it was really an album. But yeah, I’m working on it – it’s happening.”
With regards to the genre and style of the new music, Ashnikko remains fairly tight-lipped, but she does reveal that it sounds like “very angry fairy music”. How very Ashnikko.
Watch our full video interview with Ashnikko at Reading 2021 above
Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.