ABOVE: ICKY BLOSSOMS. IMAGE COURTESY OF NEIL DUFFY
A little bit chillwave and a little bit rock ‘n roll, pop trio Icky Blossoms’ music doesn’t exactly scream “Omaha, Nebraska,” but surprisingly, the big small town is where much of the group’s magic, including their self-titled debut disc (being released July 17th on Saddle Creek Records), has been made. Group members Derek Pressnall (whom you may know from his work with Conor Oberst-signed band Tilly and The Wall), Sarah Bohling, and Nik Fackler all met through the city’s budding art scene, wherein the trio worked with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek to conjure up their first musical offering, a clever mix of electronically influenced genres that’s as current as it is addictive. We spoke to the group about their original sound, worth ethic, and what Omaha has to offer.
THE START: Pressnall: When I was playing in Tilly and The Wall—well, I’m still playing in it, but in our earlier days—I met Nik because he directed an animated music video for us, and I got to know him through the Omaha art scene. I actually have a bunch of different bands, so he ended up playing in another band I have called Flowers Forever. We became really good friends and started working on music together. I met Sarah when she was playing in Flowers Forever as well, and out of that it morphed into this new thing. Nik and I were really focusing on writing new songs together, and that’s sort of how Icky Blossoms formed.
DIFFERENT STROKES: Fackler: As we were writing songs together, I think Derek and I were both interested in electronic music, and making people move and dance at shows and stuff. We were just learning, and in the process of learning, we had different experiments—we’d be like, “Let’s write some songs and just not use guitar,” or “Let’s write some songs and try and make beats for them.” Over the course of time, we slowly taught ourselves how to make new kinds of music. I think a lot of the diversity in the record comes from a really experimental way of writing songs. The main intent was making really good beats, finding good sampling—doing things besides just writing songs for guitar.
HOME SWEET HOME: Bohling: Omaha is really supportive [of our music]. People just wanna have fun. Going to concerts is like everyone’s favorite thing to do to have fun, and you can find a show like any night. People enjoy that people are working on stuff here and that it’s always an option. I think they want it to keep going, so people go to shows to support that.
Fackler: Whenever there’s a new band that pops up in town, it’s always really exciting for everyone because it’s just one more thing to do. It’s not the biggest city in the world, so it’s not like there’s tons of activities and things to do, but the thing we all love to do is go to shows. There are so many local bands here, and if you’re lucky enough to be in one, you’ll really get supported. By playing music here, you end up having a whole group of friends that are all musicians. It’s really easy to start a band here, because there’s so many eager musicians ready to make music and collaborate.
WORKING WITH DAVE: Bohling: When we first started working together, he was like, “Let’s get experimental,” and we just started making sounds, condensing them, playing them backwards and condensing them again, just to make these really weird sounds. He’s all about the process—he’ll be like, “I don’t know if you’re gonna like this, but it’s fun to try something, right?” He was totally cool and so neat and open to any ideas at all that were new.
Pressnall: His style of creating is very similar to our style of creating. With any project, you don’t want it to sound like anything else, and that’s pretty much his M.O.—trying to be experimental and create new-sounding things. That’s one of the things I love about electronic music and what I think people are attracted to about it: In the synth world, you’re always making new sounds that people have never heard. We were after that, and Dave was after that too.
THE LIVE EXPERIENCE: Fackler: We approach the live versions of songs different than in the studio. It’ll be the same beats with different bases or something. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge to see what we can do with the songs live to make them better than what we have recorded. We take parts out, we add guitars—anything goes. We’ll be looking at something we did with synth in the studio, and be like, “How about we do that on a guitar neck with a crazy pedal?” When playing live, you have to think about the performance aspect of it all.
“BABES”: Bohling: I think for that song, we were just like, “Ooh, let’s make a song that sounds like Madonna!” It came together really fast in one night. We had the idea, and we had different lyrics at first—we were singing about the grocery store and aisle four and how you always see a babe in the grocery store, but we changed it to the club, because I guess that’s a better setting for dancing. But music is fun, and it should be—you don’t always have to be like, “I have the most traumatic heartbreak right now and I’m going to sing at you about it!” It can be about anything, like a walk you have in the morning where you see a weird bum.
FOR MORE ON ICKY BLOSSOMS, VISIT THE BAND’S WEBSITE.