Oliver Tree

Oliver Tree

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About Oliver Tree

A brief encounter with Oliver Tree might lead you to wonder: is this guy for real? The bowl cut, bell-bottoms and pink-and-purple windbreaker all seem calculated to confuse. Yet the ample pleasures of his unusual brand of tongue-in-cheek pop are right there on the surface. Born Oliver Tree Nickell in Santa Cruz, California, in 1993, he got his start as Tree on Belgium’s Apollo Records—an early home to Aphex Twin—in 2013, pairing warbly sing-speaking with folktronica beats. Three years later, he reappeared as Oliver Tree, bringing emo energy to “When I’m Down”, a collaboration with pop-EDM producer Whethan, then returned in 2017 with “Welcome To LA”, which poked fun at the city’s superficial reputation. Over the next few years, he developed the Oliver Tree character in wry lyrics paired with irresistible electro-pop hooks. In his viral hit “Alien Boy”, he sings from the perspective of an extraterrestrial—a proud misfit and slyly unreliable narrator with an “eagle beak” and “ostrich feet”—but on the grunge-flavoured “Hurt”, another standout from 2020’s Ugly is Beautiful, he makes a more heartfelt admission: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” As an entertainer, he’s fully committed to the bit. In an interview with Apple Music, he claimed to have spent 27 months engineering a 20-foot-tall scooter that he rides using stilts. But he serves universal truths alongside his tall tales. Adopting a philosophical tone, he told Apple Music, “You’re never going to be truly happy if you can’t learn to accept yourself the way you are.” 

Santa Cruz, CA, United States
29 June 1993
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