Photography by Valerie Phillips
Styling by Cassie Walker
We sent Tori West, founder of BRICKS Magazine, and zine publisher, to catch up with her good friend singer/songwriter Ashnikko. Her most recent work includes tracks with Grimes and Princess Nokia. Tori caught up with the brat-pop, alternative rap musician at her east London flat, ahead of her forthcoming, second EP, DemiDevil.
Here I am at Ashnikko’s house! So, I’m curious: what does the word “home” mean to you?
Hmmm, yeah that’s a hard one. It’s something that makes me cry all the time. I think I have a hard time with that word because I have moved around a lot and because I’ve always been “the foreign kid” in high school and stuff. Yes, I do live in an English-speaking country but there are still cultural differences and I feel like I’m still on the fringes sometimes in social groups. Like I find myself always assuming the position of the new friend, in every social group, never really integrating myself — a coping mechanism, I guess. But yeah, trying to find a place where I can call home is tough because I don’t really feel at home ever. But I do feel at home with my stuff, my wardrobe, things like that make me feel at home.
Aww, there is a lot of comfort in belongings. How would you describe your bedroom?
When we shot the pictures for this interview, I didn’t have my new iconic dragon duvet set, but now it’s here in its full glory, I also have a lot of prints on my wall, a lot of fan art that I get from shows, I take it all home and hang it above my bed.
My next question was about your fan art, how much have you managed to collect?
I have loads to be honest, loads of bits and pieces around the house. I get a lot given to me at shows. I have like full-size prints of loads of fan art in storage from a fan art exhibition I did in Berlin, because some were too big to fit in my house.
I can imagine you when you’re older, just having a house that’s full of pictures of all your shoots and fan art. Just chaos, the walls covered, everything blue.
I love that! I imagine one day, maybe when I’m 50 and you’ll come over and I’m wearing this dressing gown. I’m tipsy, drinking a margarita and I open the door, hiccup, welcome you into my house, you walk in and there are just explicit paintings of me all over the walls saying, “ahhhh you remember me back in the day?”
Haha! I can imagine our lives when we’re older, I kinda want it to be the same but we’re all old in our own WAP house. Not settled, just living in a huge house with all our mates, wapping out every weekend.
Yes! I want that too! I want to come to the WAP house! I’m such a homebody for sure, I love my comforts, but I’m ridiculous. I just bought a projector and a massive screen that covers my entire wall. But I fully back this future WAP house, it’s such a great idea. I do like the idea of having loads of plants. The idea of settling to me is like, building a cool house that looks like a hobbit home.
So, what are you planning for 2021?
I’m writing my album! Whatever that means.
Not an EP, but album?
I guess I’m just like, you call it what you want, just let me do the creative, write all the songs the way I want. Call it a mixtape this time, but next time it’s an album for sure. I’m trying, when coronavirus is under control, to go someplace hot and just write. Maybe camp out somewhere. I had this idea, it was very ambitious, getting a load of camper vans and putting loads of music studios in them. Logistically probably impossible but I feel like one day… But anyways, I’m really excited to write that album. I mean I already have half of it written. I’m also prioritizing the musical and then fleshing out the merch line quite a lot!
Your new merch is sick!
Yesssss! It’s sassy as hell. We had a bit of a fuck up. The website went down and all the prices were wrong. I’ll be honest with you. It was because a bunch of men were in charge haha!
Haha! I don’t have to keep that in the written copy.
No, no! You make sure you keep that in!
We’ve spoken about this a lot: trolls and social media, and I know you’re super open about things like that. Recently, especially, I’ve struggled with how much I’m online and how much I feel constantly consumed.
I had to go to therapy because I was genuinely so depressed and anxious. My anxiety was ruling my life. I compulsively checked social media, especially in a time when you have no control over your life, which I guess was during lockdown for a lot of people. Checking socials compulsively gives you this illusion of control. Like checking the news and keeping up to date, it is good to know what’s going on in the world, but within
reason. To check it compulsively throughout the day is giving you a fake sense of control over your life that no one has right now. I feel like you just kinda need to surrender a little bit. I’m a control freak, most of my anxiety stems from me feeling like I don’t have control.
I get such bad anxiety of feeling unsettled in my home. Controlling your own environment has definitely a lot to do with controlling your own safety.
Definitely. For a while I had this thing where I would check under my bed, in my closet and double lock my bedroom door before going to sleep. I’m getting better at social media, though, I just have to cut it. Go cold turkey. I can’t go on scrolling, can’t keep up to date with my friends, I just can’t do it. I don’t like having to be accessible and relatable all the time. There’s a lot of stress in creating content. I love my fans and I really appreciate them. I think they’re all intelligent, beautiful people that I would go for drinks with and have conversations with, but I find it really hard to keep in contact with them because there’s a lot of bullshit on there.
“It’s something that makes me cry all the time”
I feel like work has also acted as this healthier coping mechanism and outlet for you. You’ve previously mentioned your Hi, It’s Me EP was your coping mechanism for a break up. I’m wondering what inspired DemiDevil and how it compares?
Yeah! So, DemiDevil started off as a word that I liked when I was writing my song “Tantrum” and then it evolved with meaning. Well, the meaning of the word is half-human, half-devil and I feel like sometimes in my music I’m like this dominatrix, basically like this fem-dom bratty bitchy boss lady. And I love her. I think she’s an amazing archetype to become — sometimes.
But she’s also super draining. No one can be that person all the time. I have the capability to be soft and vulnerable, also. So, there are some songs on here that are a little more soft and vulnerable and less aggressive.
When we went away together recently, you spoke about your ideas for Clitorius! The Musical, which I saw is actually a track on the EP. Can you share your plans for this because it sounds outrageous?
It is outrageous haha! I’m writing a musical about the clitoris. I’m not going to delve too much into specifics with the idea. If anyone copies me, I will literally have a meltdown because it’s my most brilliant idea to date. This track is a taster song that I thought would be fun to put on this project. Eventually we’re planning on fleshing it out as a full-stage performance. Maybe there will be an extended, full version with an orchestra or something.