Oliver Tree Nickell (born June 29, 1993) is an American singer-songwriter and filmmaker. Born in Santa Cruz, California, Tree signed to Atlantic Records in 2017 after his song "When I'm Down" went viral and released his debut studio album Ugly Is Beautiful in 2020. He achieved further success with the single "Life Goes On" in 2021. He is scheduled to release his second studio album Cowboy Tears in 2022.
Oliver Tree Nickell was born on June 29, 1993, in Santa Cruz, California, where he was also raised. He has said he took "piano lessons at three years old, [began] songwriting the next year, and [had] an album written by age six." He sang and played guitar in a ska band called Irony, which was his first experience performing. In high school, Tree took an interest in hip-hop and electronic music, becoming a DJ and recording with the rap group Mindfuck. Under the pseudonym Kryph, Tree produced dubstep for a brief period of time and performed at festivals such as Wobbleland 2011 in San Francisco. He has performed shows opening for acts such as Tyler, the Creator; Nero, and Frank Ocean, and has released music under his pseudonym, Tree.
By the age of 17, Tree had already made presentations for performances such as Skrillex and Zeds Dead, and began releasing his music under his middle name, Tree.
At age 18, he signed up with London-based R&S Records and released his debut EP, Demons. The EP gained some recognition after Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke approved of his cover of their song "Karma Police".
Tree studied business at San Francisco State University for two years and Music Technology at the California Institute of the Arts
Oliver launched his solo recording career as "Tree" in 2010. He initially self-released his music but signed with R&S Records in 2011. He eventually found himself on hiatus as he went back to school, studying music technology at the California Institute of the Arts.
In November 2016, he returned to music with his television debut, performing with Getter on Last Call with Carson Daly.
Shortly after the release of "When I'm Down", Tree signed to Atlantic Records, and a month later, graduated from the California Institute of the Arts.
Tree often writes, acts, and directs sketches in comedy videos, and has worked with companies such as Fuck Jerry.
In February 2018, Tree released his major-label debut EP, Alien Boy, along with the double music video for "All That x Alien Boy". Tree wrote and directed the debut, which took over nine months to create. He spent five months practising freestyle monster truck jumping at the Perris Auto Speedway and performed all his stunts in the music video.
Oliver Tree has played major festivals such as Lollapalooza and Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, and performed as a special guest at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and EDC, most notably at Coachella, where he was subsequently named on LA Weekly's "The Best (and Weirdest) Fashion at Coachella" list in 2017.
He was the supporting act on Louis the Child's 2017 Last to Leave Tour (2017) and Skizzy Mars' Are You OK? Tour (2018), and was scheduled to join Lil Dicky and DJ Mustard on the Life Lessons Tour Fall 2018 before it was canceled. Tree toured North America and Europe with Hobo Johnson in 2018.
On December 7, 2018, Tree released his second music video, "Hurt", a single from his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful. He travelled to Ukraine to film the video, which he wrote and co-directed with Brendan Vaughan, an up-and-coming music video director. In the first week, the music video for "Hurt" reached one million views while the song received significant radio play. On April 11, 2019, Tree released his third music video, "Fuck", with the single being released on the same day.
His fourth music video and single, "Miracle Man", was released on June 7, 2019, with the video reaching 1.3 million views on the first day of release. On June 12, he announced that he would give his final tour.
Tree released his second EP, Do You Feel Me? on August 2, 2019, to generally positive reviews.
Tree stumbled after jumping off the approximately 6-foot (1.8-metre) tall stage at a Coachella festival in 2019. This caused his lip, mouth, and nose to bleed live at one of the country's largest music festivals.
On December 6, 2019, Tree released "Cash Machine", a single accompanied by a music video. Together with the single, Tree announced his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful, with an initial release date of March 27, 2020.
On March 25, 2020, Tree posted a message to his Twitter page, stating that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ugly Is Beautiful would not be released on time.However, on May 19, the album's official release date was revealed to be June 12.
On May 16, 2020, Tree set the Guinness world record for the world's largest kick scooter, which he later uploaded a video of himself riding on July 17, 2020.
On May 26, 2020, Tree uploaded a music video for "Bury Me Alive" from Ugly Is Beautiful with a $6 budget.
On June 8, 2020, Tree announced his decision to delay Ugly Is Beautiful yet again, this time to July 17. He stated that, because of the issues of racism and police violence against black people going on during that time after the murder of George Floyd, he "did not believe it was an appropriate time" to release the album when "much bigger things" deserved attention.
On July 15, 2020, Tree announced in a Twitch interview with Anthony Fantano and the H3 Podcast that Ugly Is Beautiful would be his last album and that he would be retiring from his music career after its release. He cited the difficulties he had with his label and the industry in promoting and releasing the album as his reasoning. He has decided he will pursue filmmaking afterward. This most likely refers to the end of the "Turbo" character that Tree has been playing.
On July 17, 2020, Ugly Is Beautiful was released. Most notably in this album is the song "1993", which features an alien-themed character named Little Ricky ZR3, who, in Oliver's words, is an "upcoming artist" and "long-term friend." On the album, it features American DJ Marshmello producing the song "Jerk". In the Fantano interview, Oliver states that Little Ricky had helped Oliver produce songs and had even done some vinyl scratching on his track Bury Me Alive. Many fans speculate that Little Ricky is actually Oliver and that his vocals in "1993" are simply Oliver's voice pitched down. Along with this, fans speculate that even though Oliver's main character, Turbo/Oliver Tree would be gone, Oliver would continue to release music under the alias Little Ricky ZR3.
On July 18, 2020, YouTube star H3h3Productions posted a podcast starring and interviewing Oliver. In the interview, Oliver claims that Atlantic Records had forced him to release several singles from his debut album Ugly Is Beautiful against his will, comparing the experience to chapters being ripped out of a book and released separately. In addition to this, Oliver also stated that Atlantic had forced him to reach 1 million followers to be signed on their label, and then changed this number to 2 million when he reached 1 million.
Despite claiming that he was retired, he released the single "Out of Ordinary" on February 4, 2021, announcing the deluxe edition of Ugly Is Beautiful. Shortly afterward, Oliver announced a second album, entitled Cowboy Tears.
On May 28, 2021, Tree uploaded a music video for his song "Life Goes On" in which he sings about a toxic relationship with a controlling, two-faced lover. Tree originally wrote the song for his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful, but it didn't make the final tracklist. Instead, he included it as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of the album—Ugly Is Beautiful: Shorter, Thicker & Uglier on May 27, 2020.
He would later collaborate with Russian rave band Little Big and release the single "Turn It Up", featuring Tommy Cash, from their collaborative EP Welcome To The Internet, which was later released on September 30, 2021.
On January 12, 2022 Tree released his latest single “Cowboys Don’t Cry” from his upcoming album Cowboy Tears.
Documentaries, videos and podcasts
How Oliver Tree Became A Cultural Icon | Who Is Oliver Tree?
February 10, 2019
Oliver Tree - Cowboys Don't Cry [Music Video]
January 12, 2022
Oliver Tree - Life Goes On [Music Video]
May 28, 2021
Oliver Tree - Miracle Man [Official Music Video]
June 7, 2019
Oliver Tree - Swing & A Miss [Music Video]
February 17, 2022