She arrives, a faerie protagonist in chromatic armor, bounding sprite-like from the woods to save us all. In a world not so far off from our own, where machines reign supreme and wreak havoc on those still living, this faerie (embodied by agit-popstar Ashnikko) seeks revenge against their automated aggressors. And it is here, in this fantasy dystopian world, where Ashnikko’s latest project, WEEDKILLER, takes place. With each magnetic melody and hyperbolic hook, we take a sonic trip into a world of the musician’s own creation. 

“I wrote ‘WEEDKILLER’, the song, and then it kind of spawned the rest of the album,” they share with us. “I like to think of it like a concept album, but also kind of biographical.”

And while this is an otherworldly dimension they speak of, the album draws parallels to our current world – one struck by environmental disaster and overtaken by advanced technology, so much so that the lines between virtual and physical realms are almost indistinguishable.

Ashnikko uses these similarities to comment on contemporary toils and challenges, but in a clever and often humorous way. In “Possession of a Weapon”, Ashnikko explores ideas around bodily autonomy and the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. In “Cheerleader”, Ashnikko tackles misogyny in the form of the male gaze and what it means to be inundated by it on a daily basis. And in “Dying Star”, featuring Ethel Cain, Ashnikko takes on excessive violence and its frivolousness, yearning instead for somewhere soft and safe to call home.

“I love fantasy, world-building, and creative writing, so definitely all of these things I love bled into the album,” they elaborate.

This project follows the artist’s highly acclaimed 2021 mixtape DEMIDEVIL, which is now RIAA-certified Gold. And while there are certainly elements of the musician’s early artistry, WEEDKILLER otherwise marks a personal and creative departure for the 27-year-old. In this debut album, they shed industry expectations and public opinions to deliver a body of work that is their most complex and nuanced work to date. As the 13-track concept album chronicles the main character’s quest to rediscover autonomy and identity, it simultaneously mirrors its author’s own attempt. Here, Ashnikko is born again, and this time around, she’s not playing around. 

Below, Ashnikko reveals the makings behind her debut album while also sharing her love of Margaret Atwood and her affinity for screaming.

V MAGAZINE: How are you doing today? 

ASHNIKKO: I’m doing good, how are you?

V: I’m doing well too! We’re excited to talk about your new album, WEEDKILLER. Can you bring us through your songwriting process for this project? What did that look like, and how long did it take?

A:  It was a two-year songwriting process. I wrote “WEEDKILLER”, the song, and then it kind of spawned the rest of the album. I like to think of it like a concept album, but also kind of biographical. I love fantasy, world-building, and creative writing, so definitely all of these things I love bled into the album. 

Photography by Vasso Vu

V: Yeah, I love the world that this album exists in. I also want to talk specifically about “Possession of a Weapon,” which is about Roe v. Wade being overturned. Can you tell us how this song came about?

A: I wrote that song after learning Roe v. Wade was being overturned. And it was just really heartbreaking. The feeling of reclaiming one’s bodily autonomy is a theme throughout the album and throughout my music in general. It has dystopian Margaret Atwood elements – she’s one of my favorite authors. 

V: Yeah, her work is amazing. And I read once that you said that screaming overcomes violence, can you elaborate on that? It’s a very interesting point you bring up. 

A: I feel like everyone should have some sort of outlet – whatever that may be. I think that for me screaming in my music and using very violent imagery is cathartic.

Photography by Vasso Vu

V: And since you first started writing music, do you think you’ve changed sonically, musically, or personally? Would you consider this album a departure from your earlier work? 

A: I’ve changed so much as a person. I spent a lot of time alone. I spent a lot of time doing shadow work – asking myself what I really enjoy doing and how I’m going to choose me on a day-to-day basis. I also spent a lot of time outdoors in nature and constantly asked myself about my place in the world. And I think the music definitely reflects that.

V: Yeah, I think it does too. Finally, as you’re going on tour, I have to ask – what can people expect from an Ashnikko concert?

A: There’s a lot of theatrics. I really want the show to feel like more than a gig, like a piece of art as well. There will be plenty of theatrics, drama, and dancing.

Courtesy of Warner Music

WEEDKILLER is out today.

Discover More