Meet Ushko, the enigmatic Russian artist who recently unveiled a fresh new album of “WET_HITS" in collaboration with Club Cringe. Inspired by anime and fueled by the boundless depths of the internet, she likes to turn horror and gore into therapeutic art forms. Looking ahead, she envisions a future filled with unexpected drops, uncharted musical territories and the attention and respect she says to have always yearned for. Stay tuned and check out her latest music video created in collaboration with Hakob Machkalyan
N: Hey Ushko! How are you? How has London been treating you lately?
U: Hey, I'm honestly blessed!! My album "WET_HITS" was recently released with Club Cringe; all feats., artworks and videos made with my best friends, and all tracks co-produced by my fave musician. It's a pure blessing to collaborate with people you love and admire <3
Before moving to the UK, I had never been to London. While listening to Sunship on a snowy day in Moscow, I never imagined I would end up living in the UK. I am shocked by how friendly, multicultural, low-rise, and chaotic London is.
Although I miss my family and friends in Russia, my migration was due to a bloodthirsty dictator who unleashed war, permanently changing my life. I have never supported the actions of the Russian government and do not associate my culture with these insane people in power. Currently, I am in a "broke" stage, working two jobs while pursuing my music
N: You’ve talked about how you draw big inspiration in your creative process from anime, what’s your favorite anime at the moment?
U: Haibane Renmei, I watched it a million times, and I highly recommend it. Also Elfen Llied, golden classics for hot girls only.
N: There is this recurring impression that your visual work, particularly your music videos, comes straight out of my deep-internet Tumblr feed. I love it.
The particular atmosphere that comes out of the overlays of low-quality de-saturated Soviet-era town footage is so special & also very authentic to your story. How has the internet influenced your work?
Maybe more specifically, how has the deep web or Russian internet or blogs/Tumblr-type of websites influenced your style?
U: To be honest, I’m inspired by everything that can be censored. Don’t get me wrong, I’m against all forms of violence and discrimination. As far as i can remember, I’ve loved gore and horror in all forms; the world can be a difficult place to navigate, and so I turn to this side of art as a form of therapy. I believe that it is a legitimate form of expression and a way to explore difficult emotions and subjects.
I think my childhood experiences drew me to this: growing up in a small village, where death and loneliness were constant companions. So while my love for horror and gore may seem strange to some, it has been a crucial form of self-expression in music and visuals.
While people mostly (??) used Facebook, we had VK, (vk.com), Russian social media which is now mostly dead and pro-government (read: not safe). It was such a cool platform with plenty of blogs and pages, music, and videos. Not censored and completely free. I had a whole internet life there, the HITS of my generation (born in the late 90s-00s) were groups with Tumblr aesthetics pics and attached music. Also a bunch of ED-groups like: “Typical Anorexic”, which is sad.. We all tried these diets like drinking water for 5 days straight being 13-14 y o... And groups like these were so popular that poor girls were “supporting” each other to starve online.
So we had anorexia diaries, Tumblr aesthetics, vaporwave, cyberpunk edited avatars, indie playlists, and, of course, one track + one picture post every day. And !! For SOME REASON it was cool to write without the capital letters and punctuation. You’re a cool 😎 person if you write “hi” not “Hi!”
But amidst all this, there was also an explosion of creative expression.
So my fave early-internet era places were: VK, Upyachka, Lurkmore.
Lurkmore is a Russian language online encyclopedia for beginner nerds and otaku... It came at the dawn of sweaty teenagers who never left their homes. It was ironic, full of irrelevant content and slang. Fun!!!
Upyachka is just an old cute meme> Right now me and all my ru-speaking friends are all based in Telegram, which has a lot of channels where you can write/attach media / do audio or video messages to your followers and it’s just a good platform to chat w people :)) Some examples of channels I like: https://t.me/cosm_horror2, https://t.me/MomOfGod
N: I loved that outfit you put together for the Peckham audio show, so fun and bright. Could you tell us about how this outfit came together and also do you enjoy fashion at all?
U: I wanted to do something cool, but I had no outfit and money, so I just bought a few LED lights from an off-license shop and attached them with tape to my boobies, panties, and so-called “hemorrhoids awareness zone”. All my clothes are second-handed. I want to do more thoughtful and epic performances in the future!
This one was inspired by FITNESSS, a super-talented musician and performer.
I’m not into fashion at all, although I love stylish and hot-looking people <3 My materials are: linen, leather, latex
N: As we’ve mentioned earlier, you seem to be someone that has spent a lot of time watching anime and getting lost in internet dark holes, but do you enjoy all that attention now? And performing in front of a crowd? How was that Peckham audio show btw!
U: Sure!! I thought it was obvious that I looove attention #attentionwhore. I was bullied, criticized by my family and environment, strong outsiders, etc all my childhood, I had like 1 friend till 16. I wasn’t smiling till 17 because of my teeth, that’s why I feel so happy and appreciated while playing music :)
Idk, I just feel in the right place while being on stage. I enjoy music so much from the process of making it to performing it. Love to share energy with people while being on stage, the feeling like I’m existing in another form of being like I don’t care about anything at all, and finally free. The show is successful if the message was delivered, I cried my lungs out + all the bitches ate.
I love my listeners so much!!! People in Peckham Audio were so supportive and energetic! My friends told me that there was a slam 😳 I think it was my best show ever.
N: You have explored many different genres of sound on your last project, is there one you like in particular? Or that you want to further explore in the future?
U: I really wanted to try all my favorite genres in “WET_HITS”, and we made it together with Moa Pillar, who can bring any sound to life, he's a genius musician. The track wasn't working, it was stuck, so I told him: Moa, let's try to make it in the style of dubstep from the 2010s just for fun? And magic happened, the most strange thing for me is that the album sounds quite conceptual. In the future, I want to create less obvious drops, more sophisticated ones. Not such an obvious structure of "verse-chorus-verse-chorus", but more thinking about the form and the sounds.
I still don't see any genre boundaries for myself, because I have a sound that stays the same in any genre, like an identity.
My favorite genres are still trance, drum and bass ( everything related to breaks ), hardstyle, garage and 2-step, and baile funk. I'm not afraid to try anything. My dream is to make a track in the style of Lento Violento because it's funny, and I'm also in the process of making a rap release, maybe I'll drop it someday. And I also dream to learn the technique of extreme vocals.
N: Thank you very much for taking the time to exchange with me Anna, to close the interview, what’s next for you dear?!
U: Currently, I’m working on a few collaborations with musicians I love, trying to find an agent/talent agency, and reading “The Blob That Ate Everyone” xD
All images courtesy of Ushko