During my last full day at SXSW, I was able to sit and talk with Omaha’s own dance-music extraordinaire group, Icky Blossoms. Upon meeting with them, I was pleased (and quite intrigued) to realize that we all fluently spoke the same languages- English, sarcasm, and dry humor.
On top of being so charmingly witty, though, these guys are all EXTREMELY talented and each have their own genius contributions to bring to the table (not that I would expect anything less from anything that Saddle Creek backs). Often in life you need not question things like, for instance…what is it about Omaha that harbors and breeds creators of musical magic? Heed my advice and just…accept it.
With that being said, Icky Blossoms are no exception to this musical manifesto of Nebraskan talent. They’re taking off. They’re going places. They’re making records. And they’re Vining. What’s that, you may be wondering? Quell your concerns and read all about it below.
VM: Are all three of you Omaha natives?
(ICKY SARAH): Well, I grew up in Blair, which is a really small town like 25 minutes away. I moved to Omaha for school, which is where I met them.
(ICKY DEREK): I’m from Atlanta, but I consider Omaha home. I’ve been there over 10 years.
(ICKY NIK): I was born and raised in Omaha; grew up there as a kid and have been there ever since.
VM: In the beginning, how was the community’s response to The Icky Blossoms?
(ICKY NIK): It was good, because the community is so supportive there. It’s a great place to try to make art and be a musician because of that support. It’s not too big of a town, either, so the scene isn’t crazy huge, so any time a new band comes out everyone goes out and supports them. It’s a great town to try to do what you want to do.
VM: I got that vibe in regards to Saddle Creek Records, as well. Are the label-mates as supportive of each other as it appears?
(ICKY NIK): Yeah, it’s definitely like a family. Also, too, it’s like you go out on a Friday night to have drinks with your friends, and all the people around you are people from the label or musicians- they’re just all our buddies. It makes it really comfortable and tight-knit.
VM: Who came up with the name Icky Blossoms?
(ICKY SARAH): We stole it…from a man in Portland named Nicky Blossoms (ha!). No, we didn’t. But he sent us a Facebook message (and hopefully he will read this) that was like, ‘My name is John Blossoms, but I go by Nicky Blossoms, and I’ve been a band for five years and you guys stole my name.’
VM: Get out! Did you guys even respond to the message?
(ICKY SARAH): Yeah, we were like, ‘Sorry, we didn’t mean to steal your name…but they aren’t the same name…’
(ICKY DEREK): We actually did steal it, though. Our friends had a punk band that played one house show and called themselves the Icky Blossoms, and I was like, ‘Man, I love your guys’ band name!’ and when we were trying to pick our band name, I figured we could use theirs since they only ever played one show. So we called them and asked if we could steal their band name, and they were cool with it, so that’s where it came from.
(ICKY NIK): Just another example of the tight-knit community in Omaha, Nebraska…
(ICKY DEREK): Yeah, we were going to go with Bright Eyes, but we decided it against it (ha).
VM: How is this SXSW experience for you in comparison to your first time last year?
(ICKY SARAH): Well, SXSW last year was our first show outside of Omaha. We didn’t have a record out, and no one knew who we were, so now that we have a record out it’s a totally different experience.
(ICKY NIK): [Last year] was kind of our first time playing. I mean, we had just gotten out the studio and finished perfecting the songs, but didn’t really know how we would play them live. So looking back, SXSW last year gave us that fire to figure out how to do this thing live.
VM: What has been your favorite performance that you’ve seen this year at SXSW?
(ICKY NIK): We saw Black Lips last night, and that was great. We saw Azari & III which is like, house music and that was really cool. Looking back on the week, though, my favorite act that I saw was probably Big Harp. They’re also on our label, but we’ve known Chris for a really long time from back in the house show days. Big Harp is awesome- he’s really found his voice.
(ICKY SARAH): I really wanted to see Empress Of, but I haven’t gotten the chance.
VM: Who mostly keeps up with your social media outlets, primarily your Tumblr? And all the fancy GIF’s you’ve been posting?
(ICKY DEREK): It’s a collective effort.
(ICKY NIK): When we first started the band, we decided together that we needed to figure out social media and how it works, because none of us were really tumbl’ing or tweeting before the band. We all share the password and do what we can. We just started getting into Vine- it’s the jam!
VM: Yeah, I just discovered that one, too….I’m hooked.
(ICKY NIK): Follow us on Vine! Our SXSW ‘Vinings’ have been pretty entertaining!
VM: How was it to win Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for the Omaha Entertainment Awards?
(ICKY SARAH): Well, we didn’t expect it. It was really strange. It was this formal event, and we kind of wanted to freak everyone out.
(ICKY NIK): We brought like 30 people dressed in these amazingly wild costumes with us. It’s really a conservative event, so we just wanted to bring in a side of Omaha that normally wouldn’t go to an event like that.
(ICKY DEREK): We used it as a vehicle to show what was happening in the art community for people that maybe wouldn’t typically see it. We don’t really care about the actual awards ceremony, so it was a way to express ourselves to a greater audience that we don’t typically hang out with or see. It was good for that.
VM: How did the three of you meet/collaborate?
(ICKY NIK): I’ve known Derek for about 10 years; I directed music videos for his other band. Derek was actually really influential in getting me to start playing music and guitar. He was recording songs in a basement one day and asked me to play the guitar part for the song, and that was kind of the first time. It really just all tumbled upon itself and turned into this.
VM: What was it about incorporating a light show to your sets that made it so important to you?
(ICKY SARAH): It adds another element for people to live on….or for us to perform to (laughs). I used to get really nervous, but now the lights are really fun because it’s like, I look like I’m looking at people, but really it’s just this blinding light. It’s like I’m in the fifth dimension, or something. It also really emphasizes the beats since it’s programmed to our tracks. It’s just another layer for people to like…..get it.
(ICKY NIK): It’s hypnotizing; having lights going to the beat of a song and shining on the audience and the band increases the opportunity for people to let go. It really helps with that part of the process, especially when you’re making dance music.
(ICKY DEREK): It really transforms the space, whatever it may be, into a dance club. It makes it so much easier to get lost in the moment. It subconsciously starts to pull you in more, and emphasizes parts of the song that maybe you weren’t even hearing. It’s an interesting approach to performing music.
VM: What is next for the Icky Blossoms?
(ICKY DEREK): A record. We’re writing songs right now, so just hopefully another record sometime this year. We’ve got a Record Store Day 7” coming out [April 20]- we’re doing a split with The Black Lips.
(ICKY NIK): Definitely enhancing our live show more. As we’re writing new songs, we’re also enhancing live shows. As we continue to take this next step everything gets….bigger.
(ICKY SARAH): We’re going to isolate ourselves in a cabin for two weeks…..and throw things off of each other…..idea-wise (laughs).
Samantha Gilder is a native of Saint Simons Island. She attended Georgia Southern University for a brief stint where she studied Journalism, and although she became your statistical “college dropout”, she strives to pursue her goals with the best of them. Growing up, music and writing were the top two most influential things in her life; fast forward to the present and their roles in her life are just as prominent, with the only (major) differences being that now she is not only a writer but a mother. She has eternal love in her heart for her daughter. She bartends at a local coffee shop/café/pub where (lucky for her) the appreciation for music is equally shared between her employers and co-workers.