What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring vocalist, producer, filmmaker, and professional scooter rider Oliver Tree.

When Oliver Tree walks into The Verge office, everyone snaps their head. It’s impossible to not notice his ostentatious presence: massively wide JNCO pants, a violet and fuchsia ’90s ski jacket, Gucci suitcase, and… a bowl haircut. Oh, and he’s got a Razor scooter with him too. It’s not unfair to say that Oliver Tree is a walking, talking meme. The visual schtick, along with accompanying deadpan humor persona, were deliberately crafted by Oliver Tree to appeal to a meme-friendly generation. And through that lens he serves up catchy, hip-hop infused pop with an electronic kick. Come for the memes, stay for the music.

This combination has been integral to Oliver Tree’s success. His single “When I’m Down” went viral in 2017, racking up tens of millions of plays online. He replicated the formula for “Alien Boy” and again with “Hurt,” nailing down a very specific vision that’s designed to cater to people’s eyes and ears. “Hurt” in particular was a flag plant for Oliver Tree’s ability to create infectious melodies — the song spent 16 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart, peaking at position 12. Now, he’s released another new single, called “Fuck,” and is preparing for his full-length debut, which will be released this year. In the meantime, Oliver Tree treats us to a peek inside his world, which includes lots of scooter stories, a busted iPhone, and mountains of Cheetos.


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

First of all I really need to know about your pants because I had JNCO pants and you don’t see them very often.

These are JNCOs that are no longer for sale. JNCO shut down last year, but I was able to pick these pants up through a buddy who lives north of the Rockies, this guy Little Ricky. He’s a JNCO dealer and he has a warehouse with 300 pairs of JNCOs. He basically has every type ever made: khaki JNCOs, short JNCOs, leopard JNCOs, he has it all.

To be honest I was surprised that they lasted so long.

It’s kind of the end of an era.

Tell me about your style.

This outfit is made up from everything I really thought was cool as a child. So these were the pants I always wanted. These are the sunglasses I used to wear. This is the haircut I’ve had my entire life. I was too scared to get any other type of haircut. My mom picked it for me. The jacket I stole from my mom, but she wasn’t really using it so I don’t think she misses it too much. And then socks and sandals is just my favorite footwear combo.

Who do you think has the best style right now?

My biggest fashion inspiration is Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber. Solid. Him and my parents. My parents showed me how to really unharness my swagger.


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Let’s move on to your bag.

This basically has my raw essentials. I take this everywhere I go. It’s a fake Gucci bag I got in China in the underground market. Well, I guess I should just show you.

Yeah! Let’s get into it. Your suitcase is filled with Cheetos?

I’m traveling a lot, so one of the main things I need is a source of energy. There’s not many great food options on the road. So I just bring my main food with me everywhere and my main energy source.

Do you have any favorite flavor?

Traditional hot. You can have one too. My treat. I’ve got plenty. I bring them to share.

How many Cheetos is a meal?

Well it depends if it’s the big bag or a little bag. If it’s a little bag I can do about 13, and if it’s a big bag I only need two. I also have one liter of Mountain Dew here.


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

So what if someone offers you a salad?

Sometimes I’m feeling healthy and I’ll take a salad and crumple up a couple of Cheetos on there. Usually I say flat out no though.

I can’t think of a more perfect substitute for any type of food. It’s perfect on any occasion for a meal. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m an intense energy person and these things really keep me on the edge. They keep me going and keep my chi really high. It’s basically the ultimate snack.

And then I have a portrait I painted of myself. I keep that with me just in case I ever lose touch with who I really am.


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you forget your passport just show that.

I pretty much use this as a legal form of identification.

Not a lot of people know this but I’m big into watercolors and pastels. I think this thing took me about a month to make. And I don’t have a house so I bring it everywhere.

The eyes are really intense.

That was based off of the music video where I died, and this is the white-eyed version of it. That’s my understanding. When I painted it though I was a bit drunk so I can’t remember. It’s an emotional piece and every time I look at it I just see so much of myself.

That’s from a newer music video, right?

The record is called “Hurt.” It’s a song I made about a scooter accident I had when I was 18. It was a semifinal run at a pro competition. I’m in this 20-foot roll in and out of nowhere this little pebble shows up. I hit this thing and just go flying — break my left wrist, break my right wrist, and break the joint that connects the thumb to the hand. At that point I had to start considering other career options because scootering was just not safe. I needed something that had a little bit more longevity for a career choice. So I started making a segway out of the professional scooter world and focused on this Oliver Tree project.

We went to Ukraine to film the music video for “Hurt,” and made that with a small loan of a million dollars. Atlantic Records supported us. I want to shout out Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald – they were really the people who helped finance this and bring it to life. It took us two years to sort out the financial side, and I don’t think we could really be happier with the outcome.

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