My first introduction to Oliver Tree happened when I saw his video for ‘All That’ X ‘Alien Boy’ earlier this year. His bowl cut, multicoloured ski jacket, and doof-style jeans juxtaposed the slick trap beats and lush production of the tracks in a way that was close to offputting, if not puzzling. It took a few views to reckon with the scooter-riding, bazooka shooting, bloodied protagonist in the video, by which time the melody and lyrics had made themselves comfortable in my head, where they would remain for days.
I was then lead to Instagram where I further studied the enigmatic 26-year-old’s persona. Here, his 800K-plus followers lap up his content which consists of tailor-made Oliver Tree memes, scooter jokes, stunts, and teasers to whatever his next single is. He keeps his fans at arms-length but also feeds them enough intimate material to keep them wanting more. Recently he demonstrated his cunning understanding of the platform when he refused to release a track until a post got 400K comments – a target that was swiftly met by his eager audience.
On the face of it, his industry strategy looks like; build an audience, generate buzz, offer music. But in reality, music is not a branch of the Oliver Tree brand. It’s at the core of everything he’s doing and has been since he first blazed onto screens in a flash of purple and pink back in 2016. Since then, the California-native has amassed over 200 million Spotify streams, played Coachella, and announced massive (mostly sold out) US and Europe tours.
With shows and streams going so irrefutably well, you can’t argue with his approach to the industry, even if you don’t get it yet. Check out our interview with him below and stay tuned for news of Australian shows:
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People don’t understand the power of the meme. My face and haircut has made me much more recognizable than my music ever could. It’s honestly had a huge effect on me and my family’s personal life. It’s hard for me to enjoy simple things like vacations and doing anything in public. I don’t go outside very much anymore and when I do I have to wear disguises ranging from wigs to facial prosthetics to give me privacy but even that’s a whole ordeal.
The majority of my songs are freestyles where I chop up and paste my favourite parts together. If I nail the melody but not the lyrics, then I re-write it to make sense. But I love music that’s open to interpretation so that it can mean different things to different people at different points in their life.
Learn how to improvise! It’s all about capturing a moment in time, rather than attempting to create one. My main bit of advice is to make at least a few hundred songs before you release anything. Then you will start to get to the good stuff. That process doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been writing songs for almost 20 years, and I’ve written over 1000 songs, yet I still haven’t dropped my debut album. You can’t rush real art! Quality over quantity!
Gorillaz is my main musical inspiration for the Oliver Tree project.
Not exactly sure what the highlight was but I will tell you the worst was when Coachella wouldn’t let me bring my scooter out on stage. They brought me into their headquarters and gave me a sit-down talk about how this wasn’t the right place to show off my scooter tricks…
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A lot of people call me that. For whatever reason it just struck a chord with the general public. I would never call myself “vape god” but I guess it just comes with the territory of being able to execute some of the smoke tricks I’ve learned over the years. From a technical standpoint, I surprise myself with some of the stuff I’ve been able to learn over the years.
Not sure, I’ve been high for the vast majority of my adult life so I can’t tell the difference.
That Oliver Tree isn’t a serious artist.
You can bet your bottom dollar… ;)