Icky Blossoms Blooms
By Kyle Eustice
Quietly bubbling under the surface, a young 20-something girl was unknowingly waiting for that chance encounter that would take her out of the math building at The University of Nebraska-Omaha and catapult her to center stage. As front woman for Saddle Creek Records’ recent signee, Icky Blossoms, vocalist Sarah Bohling is off to an incredible start. Icky Blossoms began as a side project of Tilly and the Wall/Flowers Forever’s Derek Pressnall and evolved into the incarnation it is today. Nik Fackler, who has been involved in several Omaha projects, rounds out the trio. Icky Blossoms released their self-titled debut last summer to rave reviews. The dancey, synth-heavy and upbeat tracks they concoct are catching on and impossible not to love, if you have a pulse, that is. Get to know them. Icky Blossoms are getting ready to release new songs and they hit the MAHA stage next month.
Where have you been hiding? You seem to have come out of nowhere.
Sarah Bohling: I was hiding at UNO in the math building. When I moved out of the dorms I kind of met all of the people I know now like Nik and Derek, and a lot of people in bands. They are all new to me. I’m from Blair, the car empire.
Are you surprised at the almost instant success and recognition?
I don’t know. I mean, yeah, it’s super weird how it’s successful because I guess my impression was you work really hard and then you play to 10 people like most of the time and maybe something will happen. But Derek is seasoned and he also knows what works for him and in general. He’s not going to get screwed over by anyone. He’s a smart dude.
Your first record came out in July 2012. Were you happy with its reception?
I think the first record is how I imagined. You either love it or hate it. For the most part, everyone’s been super supportive. There have been a few criticisms that it’s all over the place, but that’s kind of what we wanted. We’re feeling it out. We knew we wanted something with a beat, but we didn’t want it to be just electronic. So we were trying things over the electronic spine.
Basically, you’re experimenting.
Yeah. We were also just getting to know each other as people. Nick and Derek, musically, were just getting to know each other, too. We were kind of throwing ideas off each other. It happened how it happened.
How did you meet initially?
Derek and Nick were in Flower Forever. My friend Dylan was playing keyboard and he worked at the same place as Derek at the time. Somehow Derek heard a recording I did at Dylan’s house and it wasn’t something even super cool or anything. He was like ‘ok you sing, you should come to my band practice.’ I was like ‘ok dude, I’ll come to your band practice.’
Have you sung professionally before?
I’ve never been in a band before, but I’ve been in choirs.
Me too [laughs]. I was in Nebraska Children’s Children’s Choir.
So was I.
[Gasp] Maybe you know my sister. Do you know Katie Bohling?
Sounds familiar. How old is she?
How old are you?
Oh you’re a baby. I’m older. I’m in my 30’s. It’s terrible [laughs].
So you know Mr. Struppe, Struppe Dogg.
Of course! I had really bad stage fright though. Was that anything you encountered?
There was only one really bad stage fright incident and that was in a high school musical. It was theme song I was supposed to sing, but I forgot it.
What was it?
Beauty and the Beast [laughs]. I was like holy shit, I can’t remember the next line so I just stared. Everyone in town was there. It was pretty embarrassing.
I talked to Santigold the other day and she had similar issues. It took a lot of coaxing to get her on stage in front of an audience.
Whoa. That’s so crazy. Damn. Now she’s full circle. She does everything.
It’s no secret that mainstream media is pretty misogynistic to the point where women are almost just “things.” Have you had any experiences dealing with that kind of thing?
I don’t know. I don’t think I present myself in a way that people even want to try to go there with me and if they do, I immediately shut them down. Yeah, it sucks that people have that kind of mindset, but I don’t pay attention to it if it happens. I don’t make a big deal about it. I just think ‘you’re a lame-o.’ Sometimes fans say ‘I’m old enough to be your father.’ That’s kind of creepy, but I just think ‘well, I’m not into you so that’s fine. You are old enough to be my Dad.’ So not really, but it will probably come.
If you’re in the music business long enough, it will happen.
I imagine it will happen to me at some point, but I am surrounded by super cool dudes that don’t mind getting kind of feminine. They don’t mind crying. They don’t care about getting emotional. Like Nik said, he’s ‘from the heart of the country.’ We celebrate being kind of genderless even as a band. People are cool if people are cool.
What do you want to take away from this whole experience? What does it mean to you on a personal level?
I want to learn all the processes. My mind is programmed or has been for school and for engineering and math. I was really good at it and I had a process I did to get something done. That’s totally different and doesn’t work for music. My process would suck all the creativity out of it. Music has been a passion, but it’s been kind of a side thing that I would do in my bedroom. I want to learn from Nik and Derek. Derek was telling me that the hardest thing you can do, once you get past this in the creative process, is to make something complete and put it out there for others to examine, get criticized for it and learn from it. That’s something I haven’t even done yet.
In the end, that’s usually a good thing. What’s your songwriting process like?
It depends. Sometimes it’s strictly one person and sometimes it’s collaborative. Sometimes we’re just throwing out words.
What’s your favorite track of Icky Blossoms and why?
First one is “Perfect Vision.” That was the first song I was introduced to in the band. I always thought it was kind of epic. Even when it was kind of a baby of a song before it got sonically gigantic. I thought Derek did a good job. The lyrics match the sound content perfectly and it’s really fun to play live. People always like it.
Didn’t you record a Spanish version of “Babes?”
Yes. We want to tour in South America and that’s going to help us get there. We all thought of that drunkenly in Dave Sitek’s pool [of TV on the Radio]. TV on the Radio was going to tour in South America and he was like ‘that’s the coolest place. I only ever want to tour there.’ We were like ‘that sounds tight, we want to go down there.’ Someone was like we should record it in Spanish and I thought I could do it. Dave’s friend was there and knew someone who spoke Spanish so they translated it. I thought it was fun because I sounded like a saucy Spanish woman. I was laughing a lot.
Well, there you go. The world is at your fingertips. You could get translated in every language and go from there.
Icky around the world!