Ashnikko at Reading 2023: “I’m already writing the second album”

Ashnikko talks debut album 'Weedkiller' and Friday's secret set for this week's special edition of Down With Boring.
Photo credit: Frances Beach

Ashnikko has had quite the weekend. On Friday, debut album ‘Weedkiller’ arrived – and on the same day, they hit Reading for a surprise set on the Festival Republic Stage. All very exciting stuff. We caught up for our special Reading Festival edition of our radio-show-slash-podcast Down With Boring, set to drop tomorrow (Monday 28th August). You’ll be able to hear much more from Ashnikko, and a bunch more, then.

For now, we chatted about the release of ‘Weedkiller’, and Friday’s set.

It’s the start of the festival and your debut album’s release day. How are we feeling?

Good. I’m really hungover.  Yesterday I got a little a little drunk. I had an album release party. It was super cute. We were eating fairy food and just galloping around, frolicking, having a silly time.

Wonderful. Wait till midnight, and then you’re like, here we go?

I made everyone sing me  “Happy release day to you.”  You have a birthday every year. Album, no. 

That doesn’t happen every year.  

I’m super divalicious. I’m like, I gotta have a party. I was just talking to my manager about this earlier. In the music industry, no one celebrates wins. They’re always like, what are we going to do next? The next thing? Let’s have a party and let’s celebrate. 

And a great way to celebrate, of course, is playing Reading today. A surprise set. How was that for you? Any nerves around, ‘oh, people are going to show up’?

Yeah, I was actually I like “are people actually gonna come to the tent?”, but it was packed out. Absolutely full. Super happy about that. But I think I spoiled the surprise before Radio One did, because I posted it on my story. Ooopsie. But it was it was good. It was a really cool show. I mean, it was only 20 minutes. Just a little little taste. Did the hits. And then left. 

Now that the album is out – ad looking ahead to the tour in particular – have you got that idea of exactly how you want present everything?

Yes. Drama. High drama. That’s how I want it to be presented to the world. I’m going back to rehearse in a week. I’m doing two weeks of rehearsals. And then, yeah, doing it. But we’re putting a lot into it. We’re trying to approach the set with a narrative through it, because the album is kind of a concept album. There’s a lot of musical Theatre. I want it to feel like an experience, not just a gig. I need to get me a sugar daddy though. I want to go further.

How much is this gonna cost?

I was talking to my manager, like okay, I want 400 glowing orbs on stage. I want a 10 foot puppet. And can we somehow have a flowing river?

If you ask for the flowing river, then it sounds like you’re being reasonable when you ask for the other two things afterwards.

You’re manipulative! I like that. 

I always get a little teared up when people make friends through my music.


What’s it been like seeing the reaction to the album?

Strange because I’ve been writing this album for a couple years now. And now it’s out in the world for people to consume and tear apart and love. And do whatever they want with it. The reaction has been really positive.

Are you already looking even further ahead?

Yeah, I mean, the annoying thing about albums – I’ve said this time and time again – is that once you put it out, you’re already past it, because it takes ages to put out. So long. There was so much admin and label politics. I already pushed the album back three months. I’m already writing the second album. I’ve been living with this record for like a year. I turned it in, like, October of last year. I was strictly told I wasn’t allowed to add anything else onto it. I actually had it remastered, like twice, because I’m a demon. 

Your fans are so passionate, especially on social media. How has that been? For you to see that world created around you?

I always get a little teared up when people make friends through my music. I think that’s really cool. I feel like I built a lot of community growing up through the music that I liked. And I think that’s so special that music can weave together social connections, and you can have that in common. Those songs can hold so many core memories that you have with your friends and on your own. I think that’s so special. I think when I’m playing shows, and I’m looking everyone in the face, I always have this moment in the first song where I’m looking at everyone in the venue and I honestly have to just take a little moment and let one tear out. Just the one. During “you make me sick” where I’m screaming. So it’s the wrong context.

Was that you growing up as well, finding artists and art in general?

Yeah, I mean, a lot of my fans are younger than me. And I think that the music that you listen to and the art that you love, massively shapes your identity. And who you are and where you fit in the world. I guess, yeah, I do see myself in them. For me, my favourite artists growing up were so important to me, and they still are so important to me, and who I am as an artist and who I am as a person. They massively boosted my self-confidence. My self-esteem. So I hope that they can find some of that my music.