Electronic musician, YouTuber and viral social media sensation Marc Rebillet’s been a full-time musician for three years, yet, contrary to the most established acts in the biz, managed to actually bolster his career mid-pandemic. In a sit-down on The Carlos Watson Show with OZY CEO and co-founder Carlos Watson, Rebillet reveals how. You can find some of the best cuts from the conversation below, and the full interview can be found on the show’s podcast feed.
The Origin Story
Carlos Watson: Where are you? Are you in Dallas, Texas?
Marc Rebillet: I’m in downtown Manhattan, baby. Holding it down here.
Watson: Oh, nice. Now, you haven’t been there the whole ride, have you?
Rebillet: Yes. I’ve been here I guess a little over two years this time. I’ve lived here on and off for several years, but I’m from Dallas originally.
Watson: What drew you to New York?
Marc: Yeah, man. I mean, it’s felt like the right place to be for quite a while. I spent part of my childhood in Englewood, New Jersey, and so I used to spend a bunch of time in the city as a kid. And, I don’t know, I was living in Paris for a little while and wasn’t doing very well there. I was pretty broke, and so I had a couple of friends here and they were like, “Man, you’ve got to move to the city.” So I moved here and sort of struggled it out for a while and finally made it work after a long time.
Watson: Nice, nice. Wait. Now, now take me back to the Paris thing. What did struggling look like? What was going on over there?
Rebillet: Well, this would have been, I want to say … Oh, man. This was probably eight years ago at this point. Something like that, eight to 10 years ago, and I moved there because I was trying to do music in sort of a half-assed way, not really making it a priority but dreaming about it. I’m half French and I’m a dual citizen, so it made it very easy for me to just move there and start working.
So I went over there and waited tables and barely made rent for a little over a year, and just very depressed, didn’t do really anything musically. Yeah, that’s when I decided to come here. I was here for another two years — again, waiting tables, doing an executive assistant job for a bit, not making it. Went back to Dallas for a number of years, and then finally, once I developed a local audience in Dallas, then I moved here to try and take it to the next step.
Watson: In retrospect, what actually worked? If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what finally made you start to break out and start to get past that period where things weren’t going the way you wanted them to go?
Rebillet: Man, I wish … I mean, if I could sort of rearrange things, I would probably just have taken this a lot more seriously, a lot sooner is really what did it. Because the straw that broke the camel’s back really was I lost a job. I was working at a call center in Dallas, and they let us all go because they bought another customer service department somewhere or something, so they let our whole office go essentially, at least our division. And I had a couple months’ worth of rent saved up, and so it was sort of between, do I go out and just get another call center job, or do I try and do something? And I basically said, “I’ve got two months. Let me just see if someone will pay me to do this,” and it happened pretty quickly after that.
In Dallas, I had a friend who I used to wait tables for. He let me play at his restaurant, and then I went and hustled around at a couple other bars and got bartenders to give me the owners’ email addresses, numbers. I called them, harassed them, and basically wrangled that eventually within a couple months into three weekly residencies where I was playing. Then I would have another one-off show or two every week, so I was playing four to five shows a week and making rent pretty quickly, and it also gave me the chance to just play a lot for people who generally were not there to see me.
Watson: Marc, what do you think would have happened if you hadn’t taken that chance or if you hadn’t gotten laid off? Do you think you eventually would have turned to taking it seriously? Do you think I would have talked to you 30 years from now and you would have been like, “Fuck, I should have gone for it.”
Rebillet: Man, that is … I want to say yes. I mean, I want to say I would have eventually given it a shot, but the truth is, before I lost that job, I was really in this place where I was making little videos similar to the ones I still make but much rougher around the edges, obviously. But I was trying to make those, and it was a tiny audience. It wasn’t going anywhere, and I was really … Excuse me. I was back and forth between … I mean, it was mostly defeat. I was like, “OK, I’ve got to just find some sort of job that works that doesn’t make me miserable and just try and live my life as an adult, because I’ve just been chasing this for way too long. It’s clearly not fucking happening.” So that’s kind of where I was, and I imagine if I kept that job, I may very well have just done that, so you can never predict what the catalyst will be. You can never … You just never know.
And Now Where?
Watson: Where do you think you will go? I don’t know if you’ve thought far out yet or not, or whether there’s so much happening for you in the moment that that’s where you are, but where do you think you’ll be? Or where would you want to be five years, 10 years from now? What would make you smile? What would be a win?
Rebillet: Man, I would love to have a couple of albums under my belt in terms of I’ve been doing this kind of show for a little while now, and I’m in this place where I’m ready to evolve and do new things. So part of that would be actually writing, composing, producing an album — whether that’s my own album, whether it’s with somebody, we will have to see. Some things bubbling in that department, so we shall see. But that’s sort of what my focus is on. I would like to have one more really big touring year as this show, because it’s so much fun to play.
So, hopefully, the end of this year will give me that opportunity. We’ll see. We’ve got big things planned, but coronavirus depending, we will see. And then beyond that, I would like to move and evolve into broader areas of entertainment. I want to do TV, film. I want to sort of move back into that place because I can’t jump around half-naked onstage in my underwear forever. You know what I mean? Like, sitting on a couch, shooting the shit with people. That’s the shit, dude. That’s what I want.