When we met up with Oliver Tree Nickell last year, the 20-year old producer and sometimes DJ was riding high from the release of his three-song EP, Demons. Nickell—who performs under his middle name—had earned the blessing of Thom Yorke to remix and record his own version of Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” was flown to England to record, and started to work on his first music video, for the song “Rabbit Hole.”
“I took a break from music and did only film for about six months,” explains Tree with a jovial flicker in his eye. “But I kept making music for myself, to evolve my skill set and learn the roots.”
Wise words from someone who can’t legally drink at his own shows, and it seems to have energized him creatively. This Saturday, Tree will be playing his original work in a live, debut, four-piece, audio-visual experience called—well—Tree.
“I don’t feel like people, especially electronic musicians, are raising the bar creatively,” he says. “A DJ set is so boring, compared to four or five people performing. Maybe it’s not comparable, maybe it’s just different.”
The live Tree experience will feature local musicians Haven Dlott on cello, Dane Ostrander on drums/scratching/samples, Finn Stobbe on bass and Nickell performing a variety of instruments. To complete the visual experience of the show, Nickell contacted visual artists from around the world and compiled their work into an hour-long movie to be played with the live music. Tree will be performing on a custom stage, built by Nickell and his father.
“I want to get my audience involved on another level. The ultimate goal is to inspire people to live up to their potential,” he says. “If you want to do something, get your hands dirty.”
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3. Kuumbwa Jazz. 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $12 adv/$15 door. 427-2227