The unbreakable Oliver Tree is scooting into the opening week of his debut album Ugly Is Beautiful with a squad of fellow distinct up-and-comers on a quarantine playlist available exclusively on Billboard.
“I never considered myself a part of a scene,” Tree tells Billboard. “However, if I was part of anything, I feel like the artists on this playlist would be part of the same movement.”
“This list is made up of artists who are all underrated in their own right,” he declares. “Even the artists who might be considered bigger on this list, still in my opinion, should be much bigger.”
Check out Oliver Tree’s exclusive quarantine playlist below, and see what he has to say about the songs and artists.
Casey Mattson, “Disappear”
Casey Mattson grew up down the hall from me. He’s my adopted brother who my parents got when I was six. Somehow I tricked him into being the guitar player and keyboardist in my band. He’s a talented songwriter and producer who helped make the keyboard parts for my song “Alien Boy.” We’ve had many fist fights and altercations and although he can’t fight for s–t, he is by far the best artist out of Santa Cruz, besides me that is …
Steve Lacy, “Ryd”/”Dark Red”
Steve Lacy has championed his own lane of psychedelic alternative. He established himself as champion bedroom producer after recording his project Steve Lacy’s Demo using his iPhone. Both songs from this video are bangers, and the video reminds me of something from the Quentin Tarantino universe, directed by Matthew Castellanos. This two-song music video is nothing short of perfection.
This guy is one of my favorite producers and one of the most positive people I know. He played the guitar and helped me produce the song “Again & Again.” He also toured the U.S. and Europe with me two times. I fought him in the streets of Sweden. The way we met was crazy: Some artists we both knew had a get together and invited us to meet each other and it was destiny. His real name is Josh Ocean and mine is Oliver Tree; talk about fate. The first song we made ended up being a huge sync song with tons of commercials that kept me afloat during the rough periods.
Cosmo Pyke, “Chronic Sunshine”
I found this song and video from a YouTube recommendation three years ago. It still sounds just as fresh. The video was executed perfectly. The switch up at 2:05 is f–king epic! The way the song and video switches up around the 3-minute marker is so powerful. This is one of those songs that I wish I made but know I never could be that smooth.
Tommy Cash, “Little Molly”
Tommy Cash makes the craziest music videos out of anyone. He’s way ahead of his time. He came on tour with me across North America and I think he’s the future!
Hello Yello, “I Don’t Care”
This band is incredible! I met the lead singer Dylan at CalArts, and he helped produce the last song of my album, “I’m Gone.” I actually helped write a Hello Yello song, although I wished I helped write “I Don’t Care” cause this s–t is fire!
Easy Life, “Nightmares”
I found this video when this song only had 100k plays. It was the only song I would listen to by anyone besides Little Ricky ZR3. I honestly hate music but this song helped me appreciate it again.
Kali Uchis Feat. Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins, “After the Storm”
Over the last three years, Kali Uchis has already established herself as an L.A. staple. This song helped cement that with the help of indie god Tyler, The Creator and the legendary bassist Bootsy Collins. This song is pure soul with a nice dose of hip-hop from Tyler’s verse. The music video is top shelf, directed by the incredible Nadia Lee Cohen, who’s arguably the most bad–s music video director in the game right now.
Gabriel black & Phem, “dead yet”
These two completely smashed this indie romance. I feel like this is one of those songs people listen to and pretend like their life is a music video. Both of them were part of the first real scene in L.A. that I came up in.
Still Woozy, “Goodie Bag”
I’m convinced that guy could be me or I could be him. We’re basically the same age, born in basically the same place. We’re basically what hipsters turned into: He went the cool route, while I went to clown college. This guy is a legend and I love how his videos are all him and his same group of friends/collaborators. I admire the wholeness and I love the music!
Whethan, “Stay Forever”
Whethan was a big collaborator on my debut album. He helped co-produce five of the songs on Ugly Is Beautiful! I remember recording “When I’m Down” with him in my walk-in closet four years ago. I’m pretty sure he was like 14 at the time, and we stayed up for three days and recorded an album-worth of songs.
Poorstacy & Iann Dior, “I Can’t Sleep”
Both Poorstacy and Iann Dior have been killing it this year. This song has such a classic feel to it. Feels straight out the ’90s and early 2000s. Poorstacy is making his own new wave of emo alternative, while Iann Dior is defining his own blend of pop-punk hip-hop fusion. Both of these guys have really big years ahead of them!
Beach Bunny, “Prom Queen”
This band is amazing! Heard this song when it dropped last year and I’m not surprised how much it’s blown up since then. [Lead singer Lili Trifilio]’s voice is incredible and her lyrics and melodies bring her to the forefront of the next wave of alternative.
Rich Brian feat. Bekon, “Yellow”
I remember this dude from all the way back in the Vine days. It’s crazy to see how he’s evolved from being a kid in his room on the internet, to his viral hit “Dat $tick,” and how he’s been able to keep evolving and blossoming into the true artist he is.
The Chats, “Smoko”
By far my favorite band from Australia. They’re definitely part of a new wave of punk rock and they’ve defined a whole new generation of Aussie slackers. I’m pretty sure I’m related to the singer. He’s got a bit of a bowl cut mullet variation, so real always recognizes real. I’M ON SMOKO!
Bakar, “Hell N Back”
Bakar’s voice is stunning. In “Hell N Back,” he recontextualized a ska sound in a contemporary pop sound scape. It reminds me of the ska music that I grew up listening to with my dad, both The Specials and The English Beat with the vocal style and horn and whistles. He did a live performance of this on Colors which is definitely worth checking out!
Hobo Johnson, “Typical Story”
I went on tour across North America and Europe with Hobo Johnson & the LoveMakers. I admire his slam poetry influenced singing style. It’s very unique and reminds me of the years I spent listening to Counting Crows in my youth.
100 gecs, “money machine”
100 gecs are from the year 3030. They always bust out the futuristic nightcore sounds with a super interesting pop-punk influence. Probably the most unique sound on this whole list; you can always tell it’s them!
Remi Wolf, “Woo!”
This is an epic video to match an amazing song with a great message. The video is incredible, reminds me of living on a desert island with a hint of Aphex Twin. Woo!
Girl in red, “we fell in love in october”
Girl in red makes incredible music to cry to. Her music takes me to a very vulnerable place every time I listen. She gives me hope for a next wave of chillwave alternative music. Sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard and something that takes me to a place of comfort all at once.
Badgirl$, “Next Up II”
This song is ahead of its time. Like the rest of the songs on this playlist, I feel like it’s somewhere between ahead of its time and something extremely nostalgic. It reminds me of the way The Prodigy made their own alternative by mixing rock with drum and bass. It also reminds me of some of the Australian rock and hip-hop fusion from the ’90s, like Hilltop Hoods. I love this type of music!
Rex Orange County, “Sunflower”
This guy is constantly killing it. He’s really keeping alternative music alive. He’s making Toy Story songs for kids who grew up on it.
bbno$ & Y2K, “Lalala”
Bbno$ & Y2K had one of the biggest Tik Tok songs of the year. You’ve probably heard this one before, but you gotta check the music video! This video reminds me of a mixture of Pee-wee’s Playhouse vs. Slim Shady.
Slowthai & Mura Masa, “Doorman”
This song is too crazy. Shout-out to Mura Masa for having a bowl cut at one point. Although, I will say he f–ked up when he changed the haircut. The kid needs to get his head out of the gutter and get that bowl cleaned up.