Ashnikko’s “Stupid” video opens with the singer-rapper screaming “What?” and thrusting her head at the camera. Her hair is Marge Simpson-blue and her face is covered in blood. It is, as introductions go, an engaging one.
However, it’s more likely that the first time you heard the 23-year-old’s mega-viral hit was on TikTok, where everyone from your kid sister to Miley Cyrus has used the track for their videos. The song lends itself perfectly to being dissected on the platform; it’s aggressive, campy, and demonic all at once, built on a rough-edged bass line that SoundCloud rappers used to eat for breakfast.
Speaking over the phone from Dallas while on tour with Danny Brown, Ashnikko is understandably happy with the success of the song while remaining zen about life as a viral artist. She gets that “Stupid,” in some ways, doesn’t belong to her any longer — but she’s not wasting the exposure it’s afforded. Her EP from earlier this year, Hi, It’s Me, is packed with the same kind of magnetic energy that makes “Stupid” so alluring, and she’s been busy working on new material to follow it up. Read on for her thoughts on TikTok, hyping up her fans, and what’s coming next.
When did you first get the sense that “Stupid” was taking off?
I've been using TikTok for six months before everything happened. Somebody sent me a screenshot of someone using the song on there — it’d been used, like, 600 times. I was like, "Fuck, this is sick," and then I looked back a day later and it was 10,000 times. I just kept checking and I was like, "Holy shit. People actually really like this song, and now it's been used millions of times." It's undeniably become a meme. I've just given it up to the universe.
How does that make you feel?
They can have it, it's fine. It's not mine anymore — It is mine, but it's not. Such is the nature of the internet.
Do you have a favorite “Stupid” TikTok?
An older woman made one about getting divorced and spending all of her alimony, which I really liked because we stan divorcees. It's such a strong aesthetic, being divorced. I love it.
Do you feel people are using the song in a way that is true to how you made it?
For the most part. I wrote it as a song for people who are tired of being mistreated in relationships and wanting to completely embody this independent goddess. It’s a breakup song, basically, and it feels like it's become something like a confidence song, which I really like — A “sing in front of your mirror with a hairbrush” type of song.
Do you remember any songs that were like that for you when you were growing up?
“Bossy” by Kelis. That's number one, I might bring that back. What’s the other one of hers? “Caught Out There”! That's the vibe that I was going for.
Do you use TikTok as an artist or just in general?
In general. I think it's funny. I was really into Vine when Vine was a thing, so I'm just using it like it's Vine. It's a good platform for me to be a fucking idiot. It's perfect for me.
Is it a good platform to promote your music?
Oh, no. TikTok is not for that. People can smell when you're trying to promote yourself. Instagram and Twitter exist for that. TikTok is just for lols.
Does it worry you that the song is more well known than you are as an artist?
That was my worry at first, but I’ve just got to roll with the punches, really. It's fine if “Stupid” does that, but I have so many other songs in the bank that I've yet to put out, so I'm not super worried.
What’s your plan for building on this exposure that “Stupid” has given you?
I'm just going to put out so much music, and I'm confident in my in my abilities. For the time being, it's just going to be just singles, and we'll see if that wraps up into an album or an EP. I'm not too concerned with that yet. I just want to put out as much music as possible.
Who are you working with on new music?
I had a session with Mike Dean recently. He messaged me on Instagram and I was just, like, "Holy shit." It was great, though. He's so lovely. He smokes fat blunts and is surrounded by this cloud of smoke at all times — very mysterious.
You were recently on tour with Danny Brown, and there was footage of him berating someone that had heckled you during your set. What/s your recollection of that night?
Boys heckling in crowds — story of my motherfucking life. Boys just suck. Teenage boys are mean as shit. He was in the crowd and was like, "Eat my ass, baby," or something like that. I was just like, "Oh God." It's one thing to be singing about sex, but don't fucking heckle me. I shouted at him and told him to shut up. Then another guy said "Your music sucks" and "I'm only here for Danny Brown anyways." I think he called me a bitch or something. Then he put his headphones on and started listening to his own music.
At that point I was trying to get my shit together — but I'm a very sensitive person, and I was like, "Holy shit, if I cry during the set, I’ll never live it down." Later, when Danny went on stage, before he even started his first song he looked directly at this guy, and he just started lecturing him. This boy left the room crying, and he fully deserved that shit. Honestly — what a dickhead. He sent Danny this massive apology after the show.
What did it say?
He was like, "Hey, I was the idiot who was heckling your friend last night on stage. I'm sorry. I really am. I was being peer pressured into it by the people around me and I cave into shit like that all the time because I'm afraid of not fitting in."
Were you surprised to be heckled that way?
Not really. I make very divisive music. It’s opinionated. It's very loud. It's very sexual and full of what the patriarchy hates, which is confidence and independence. I definitely have a lot of men on the internet who fucking hate me, but it's fine because I have a lot of people on the internet who send me lovely messages every day. Honestly, I don't give a shit about them.