Ashnikko is an artist unafraid to assert her identity and believes, with no compromises and no fucks given. After releasing her female empowerment anthem ‘Blow’, the London-based American artist has today dropped a visceral new track in the shape of ‘Invitation’.
The animated video for the track was directed by Venus Libido, an illustrator whose ability to tackle important social issues in a relatable cartoonish style is the perfect match for Ashnikko. The aesthetic of her work is inspired by experiences of misogyny, patriarchy and a constant fight for equal rights for women in the work place. She portrays her thoughts through her drawings, sometimes touching on issues that are taboo, or not ‘socially acceptable’ to talk about. Her creations reach out to people in a way that is not only understanding, but also validating to others.
Why do you think a song like Invitation is necessary in society today?
Ashnikko – I feel most empowered when I’m listening to music, especially music that I can dance along to in front of the mirror and scream along to with my friends. I wanted to couple that empowerment you get from a catchy song with an equally empowering message, trying my best to make a song about sexual harassment into something people can sing along to in front of their mirrors and scream-sing along to with their friends. I want to make the song that makes every girl in the club kick off her heels and run to the dance floor screaming “THIS IS MY SONG!!!”. We need more bangers about the real female experience. I’m making songs that I needed to hear when I was a little girl.
Venus Libido – I think this song is necessary because it is an honest representation of what women experience on a daily basis. Invitation speaks for many women who are tired of being objectified, harassed and made to feel like victims. I also think now is a better time than ever to challenge the way in which women are portrayed within rap music. I know for me I’m tired of women being referred to as hoes and bitches within music and I feel like Ashnikko is most certainly addressing this issue with her own lyrics.
The collaboration between you two works so well – why do you think that is?
A – I feel like we are both very unafraid to challenge the patriarchy through our art. To do that on a public platform is daunting. The hateful messages we get from keyboard warriors and internet trolls are discouraging. Despite that, I feel like we both understand how necessary it is to just take it on the chin and keep speaking up about these issues. There is also an element of humour in both me and Venus’s art that we bond over. Her art is both socially conscious and hilarious at the same time, which is such a difficult thing to accomplish but she does it so well.
V – I think we are both very unapologetic women who have not been afraid to challenge the patriarchy throughout our career’s. We both are passionate about using our voices and platforms to speak up about our experiences as women within a male-dominated society. Most importantly we understand the importance of speaking up so that other women don’t have to feel alone.
I think from the start we both were drawn to each others work because of how we both use a level of humour to address difficult issues. We believe in using our frustration and anger towards the patriarchy and turn into something positive and relatable. Also I absolutely adore Ashnikko and I think she is creating a huge shift with her music and I am inspired by anything she creates. Her honesty and passion is truly empowering.
When it comes to your respective art forms where do you find inspiration?
A – I have this massive google doc that is just full of random words and sentences that I add onto throughout the week. If I overhear someone’s conversation that i find interesting, words that I like the sound of, if I have a weird interaction on public transport, etc., i’ll put it in the google doc for inspiration when i’m writing in studio sessions. I’m that friend that will 100% write about your life experiences in her songs. I’ve written tons of songs about every person I’ve ever been in a relationship with, every person who’s ever hurt my feelings, every person who’s ever given me an amazing orgasm. Nothing is sacred! Above all though, I take inspiration from my own female experience. Coming to terms with own mental health, body, and sexuality.
V – Everything I draw is a depiction of my own life, the things I see or witness or experience on a daily basis. For me it is really important to draw the things I’m sometimes afraid to admit or address, not only to better understand It for myself but to help others not feel so alone also.
With your art (Venus) and your music (Ashnikko) you seem unapologetic. Is this how you are in real life or how you want to be?
A – Confidence is weird. Some days I’m so confident I’m practically skipping down the street like I’m in my own music video. Other days I can’t even muster the energy to brush my teeth and feed myself because my self-esteem is so bad. Artistically I will always be unapologetic. Compromising my vision and identity to make “nice” “palatable” songs is my idea of hell.
V – I like to think so. It is most definitely something I’ve had to work on over the years and also build up a level of confidence to do so. It took me to the age of 26 to realise I had a voice and that I shouldn’t be afraid to use it. The more I focus on myself and my own happiness the closer I get to feeling like a women who can conker the world.
Sum up Invitation in three words
A – ONLY THREE WORDS?!
V – FUNNY, RELATABLE, EMPOWERING