Ashnikko knows how to make an appearance. At the Brit Awards 2020 we saw her walk the red carpet with her meter-long blue hair carried by two men behind her (“Tonight I’m playing Ashnikko Femdom,” she told NME at the time.)

And her appearance at the Reading Festival is no different. The cross-genre artist comes to her NME interview with a huge “psychedelic pussy bear” – as she puts it – in tow. The giant pink beast is adorned with vaginal markings, and Ashnikko explains that she came up with the idea for her new buddy – who is also on stage in her brilliantly chaotic show on the Reading Festival’s Lock Up Stage – when she takes the shower.

Ashnikko, backstage at Reading 2021. Photo credit: Simone Joyner / Getty Images

“I got out of the shower, drew it, and here we are,” she laughs. “I’m living the dream. When I first saw her [the bear costumes] When I got out of the box, I thought, ‘Wow – what the hell is life? The simulation is insane! ‘”

Ashnikko’s killer performance at Reading Festival is one of the first shows she got to play after a pandemic, and those early gigs were a thrill. “It was very emotional, I left the stage at Boardmasters and just started crying, just sobbing … It was really weird, but I’m so happy.”

These new shows have also given artists a chance to test out new music on the street, including the traps-dominated pop-punk belt “Maggots”. It was written with co-workers Oscar Scheller and Tom Slinger, and Ashnikko explains that the song “only I’m very aggressive when I talk about pussy and cheese strings”. She also reveals that this new song is part of early work on her upcoming album – the follow-up to the standout mixtape “Demidevil” in January.

“Album is a really loaded word,” she adds. I’ve been putting off an album for a while, the last one I called Mixtape, [but] It really was an album. But yes, I’m working on it – it happens. “

As far as the genre and style of the new music goes, Ashnikko remains rather closed, but reveals that it sounds like “very angry fairy music”. How very Ashnikko.

See our full video interview with Ashnikko at Reading 2021 above

Head to NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.