Ashnikko's new project explores new worlds. Ashnikko takes you into a dystopian apocalyptic wasteland of her own creation with her debut studio album Weedkiller.

Ashnikko's 'Weedkiller' takes you into a queer dystopian world

Ashnikko's 'Weedkiller' takes you into a queer dystopian world

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The cover art for Weedkiller Vasso Vu/Warner hide caption

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Vasso Vu/Warner

The cover art for Weedkiller

Vasso Vu/Warner

Confidently blending several genres into her music, Ashnikko is able to weave together elements from bubblegum and electropop and punk and hip-hop, to name a few.

Their music is bratty, sex-positive, haunting – and just a touch chaotic. And her persona? Picture: electric blue hair, a cyberpunk sense of style, and a Neil Gaiman tattoo on her arm.

Ashnikko takes you into a dystopian apocalyptic wasteland of her own creation with her debut studio album Weedkiller.

Who are they? Ashnikko is a 27-year-old alt-rap musician, whose songs "STUPID," and "Daisy" went viral on TikTok during the pandemic.

  • Her first EP, Sass Pancakes, was released in 2017.
  • But it wasn't until TikTok that she really blew up. For a while, it was nearly impossible to scroll through the app's FYP ('for you page') without seeing someone dancing or singing to her vengeful fantasy tune, "Daisy." 
  • They then compiled those TikToks into a music video.

What's the big deal? Ashnikko based her album Weedkiller on a short story she wrote, building out the world in music videos that depict her battling gigantic robot enemies with a huge sword.

  • The short story Ashnikko wrote focuses on faeries that she calls "nyms," who live in a forest populated by "mother trees." The nyms and the mother trees have a symbiotic relationship, "where they share resources and stories back and forth between nym and tree," Ashnikko says. But that utopia is destroyed by the Weedkillers, machines that harvest bio matter and turn that fuel into power for themselves. "My main character is on this quest to avenge their family and the forest."
  • The story is an allegory for the destruction of climate change and the rapid evolution of technology. Ashnikko builds that out with Weedkiller, providing commentary on real world issues while also mixing in her own lived experiences.

What's she saying? Ashnikko spoke with NPR's Scott Detrow about the world she's created, and the messages they wanted to scream.

On the fantastical influences of their work

I love fantasy like a family member. Right now, I'm re-reading Name of the Wind by Patrick. I have a book club on my discord. The main pop star of my life is Neil Gaiman. He's like the only person who I think if I saw them on the street, I would start crying. The way he builds out his worlds is just phenomenal.

On singing with rage in songs like "You Make Me Sick"

It was kind of like the bridge between my old music to my new music. So sonically, we took some apocalyptic, very industrial sounds. And for me, it was this purging, this catharsis, kind of like this toxic sludge that was living in my body, these parasites and these thorns in my sides. I haven't been super blatant about what I'm talking about, so I wanted to write a more "in your face" song, kind of purging myself of a certain man in my life.

Want more on culture? Listen to Consider This on the true toll of book bans in the U.S.

On growing up in the Bible Belt and how that impacted them

I think the reason why I am so expressive is because of my upbringing. It was like as soon as I turned 18 and was able to go craft my own life for myself, it was like an explosion. It was like "WOAH." Being able to go out and create this community for myself and see queer people having happy endings and content lives full of love – for me, it was completely new and foreign to me. I had no queer representation growing up and that wasn't so helpful for me, as a young queer person in the Bible belt. 

If my parents had seen them, it would have been easier for them to understand and to see a future for me. Representation is important.

On being in a place where she can now sing about queer love and hope

I definitely couldn't be as expressive as I am now when I was growing up, when I was in high school. Now, I think young me would be super impressed and elated that I get to have that freedom now. [The song] "Dying Star" is super special to me because it's the closest thing I've ever gotten to a love song.

It's about coming home to someone soft, coming home to this home planet and sinking into the grass and allowing yourself just to be.

So, what now?

  • Weedkiller is streaming now.
  • There's a possibility for the stories in Weedkiller to continue in other forms. Ashnikko says, "Maybe the next record is an extension of that. I'm not sure. I am in the process of writing, fleshing out the rest of the story. I don't know what medium it will exist in yet. I am writing it now as a graphic novel...but we'll see."

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