Album: Ugly Is Beautiful (2018)


  • Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, singer-songwriter Oliver Tree Nickell originally released music under the name Tree. When his 2016 upbeat dance song "When I'm Down" went viral, it led to a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

    Tree often writes and acts in sketch comedy videos and after signing his Atlantic contract, he cultivated a scatterbrained public persona and sported a ludicrous bowl haircut. His eccentric image and visually interesting films and clips led to huge interest in his debut album Ugly Is Beautiful, which was released on July 17, 2020. This song is the second single from the set.
  • Tree grew up competing in freestyle scootering on the pro circuit. This song finds him recounting how a major accident when he was 18 changed his life. He recalled to Apple Music:

    "I break my left wrist, I break my right wrist, I break the joint that connects my thumb to my hand. I had a concussion. There were some minor abrasions. My right hand was less usable, but my left still had some good fingers, so I started learning how to produce. I spent the entire scooter season - five months - locked up in a bedroom, just writing music. And the first song I wrote and the song that really capsulated this experience was 'Hurt.'"
  • Tree apologizes to his high school scooter buddies who got left behind when he signed with the Junior Syndicate Team. His one-time tight-knit group of friends felt betrayed that he wasn't scootering with them anymore, so now he's trying to make amends.

    I'm sorry if I hurt you
    I'm sorry if it got that bad
    I'm sorry I can't help you
    Somebody should've had your back

    He explained the lyric to Genius: "Nobody's hitting me back. They take me out of the group chat. Nobody's texting me back. They take me out of the group text chat. I mean, you can imagine where my head's at. This is all my day-ones, my closest people and nobody wants to hang. And that's when you realize success not only changes you, but the people around you. These people were fueled by jealousy."
  • Tree wrote the song with his frequent collaborator, Chicago producer Whethan (Dua Lipa's "High").
  • The song became Tree's first hit, reaching the Top 10 of the Adult Alternative chart. It was certified Gold on May 11, 2020.
  • The singer traveled to Ukraine to film the video, which depicts Tree being crucified on a scooter. He wrote and co-directed the clip with Brendan Vaughan (Bastille's "World Gone Mad," Charlie Puth's "I Warned Myself").


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