MARC REBILLET, a cultured multi-instrumental songwriter from Dallas, is often pigeonholed by his stage persona. Rebillet is essentially a talented musician with an incredibly sharp wit, and produces live remixes of some fairly abrasive (but hilarious) beat-driven comedy. He’s been called a ‘techno Randy Marsh’, or ‘Loop Daddy’.
There’s a little more to it, though, from a man who became famous for his social-media remixes. Classically trained from a young age in jazz piano, Rebillet has very few musical staples. He improvises every single show almost from scratch, with just a few of his biggest hits getting treated to regular airings. He’s typically on stage for over an hour, literally making things up as he goes along with the help of his audience.
At around two years since he first broke out of relative obscurity and launched tracks like ‘Reach Out’ and ‘Summertime’, his complicated live approach is taking its toll, and he’s ready to talk in a way you just wouldn’t associate with a man famed for his humour-based public persona.
“Anxiety is very real for me right now,” he says. “It can be at a very high level, surrounding the viability of continuing to do this. I wonder how much longer I’ll be interesting, how much longer can I do it. Those questions are constant, and I’ve been having a hard time maintaining a modicum of general happiness. It’s been a real internal psychological struggle.”
“You sort of zoom out and look at where you’re at and it seems ridiculous, because things are going better than they ever have. On the surface, they’re going very well. I’m playing shows for a lot of people, but the reality is I feel like I’m right on the edge of failing. The more I talk to other performers, the more I realise it’s just part of being a creative professional, and you just have to learn to manage that.”
From the outside, it certainly doesn’t feel like Rebillet should have any particular pressure. He might have his nerves, but his creativity in producing that live show on the spot is almost astounding, and his viral acclaim ever growing.
“I think up a couple of ideas, make some observations through the day, think of something that’s germain to the crowd I’m playing to, I use those things as seedlings for song ideas,” he says of those ad-libbed performances, occasionally recorded on the hoof for later use.
“It’s very much just going out and letting people yell at me, giving people the microphone, listening to ideas, bringing people up on stage. I love that, it’s never boring for me. But at the same time it’s a lot of effort.”
“The shows are really a vibe. They’re about where my energy level is at, how the audience are. I’ll play a different way to a calmer audience, dial it down a bit. For a really pumped up audience I match that energy.”
“My sense of humour” – perhaps Rebillet’s most famous draw – “it’s basically what’s in the videos, that’s kind of a dialled up version of me. I have a kind of ridiculous sense of humour.”
I point out that Beatyard, where Rebillet will play in early August, often brings out quite a few kids. He laughs a little, perhaps considering the level of language in his recorded output, and then lets the idea wash over him. “They booked me, I guess they know what they’re getting,” he laughs. What they’re getting is a man who’s thoughtful far beyond his output. A considered artist, having fun.