Maynooth’s finest Tebi Rex chat to Cian Montague.
When I call Tebi Rex on a Saturday evening, they are relaxing in their hotel before a show in Galway. They’re in good form, busy enjoying the perks of the performing life: “We actually got a rider!” Dafe laughs, “we’re people who get riders now.” What goodies did they get? Skittles and rum, they tell me. Clearly, these guys are rockstars.
Tebi Rex are a two-piece alternative rap outfit based in Maynooth, consisting of Matt O’Baoill (23) and Dafe Orugbo (20), who performs as Max Zanga. For live performances they are joined by DJ R3D (Harry Onuke).
Pinning down their sound is not easy. As Dafe describes it: “We can be quite poppy one minute, bit of a club banger, bit of a cheeky bop. And then it’s ‘oh, this is a heavy song about heavy stuff.’” As they point out, they have written a lot of songs about girls, but themes in their work also include the negative effects of partying, toxic masculinity, and suicide. Nevertheless, they are keen to keep it light: “We’re also really nice and clever and funny,” Matt quips.
Part of Tebi Rex’s appeal is their stylishly shot and often funny music videos. The clip for ‘She Hated Love Songs II,’ for example, drags romantic clichés and memorably features Matt showing a ‘Bag of Cans?’ sign to Taylor Swift through a window. Dafe, a self-described “film buff” who is currently working on a Master’s in Creative Media, is in charge here. “Every song I’ve ever written, I’ve had a video in mind for that song,” he says, “I feel like, the videos are integral to the music. I don’t mind it being serious or jokey, but I feel like the music video needs to add something to the song.”
“Part of Tebi Rex’s appeal is their stylishly shot and often funny music videos.”
At the moment, neither of them are doing music full-time: Dafe is studying, and Matt sells software. Do they see themselves taking the plunge in the future? “I think if music made itself a viable career choice, there’s no way I could be on my death bed, look back and say I didn’t give my passion a try,” Matt says. Dafe, who finishes up in college next summer, is emphatic: “Matt doesn’t get a say, Harry doesn’t get a say, everyone’s doing this full-time come September!” Harry gets to the heart of the matter: “If the money’s there we’ll do it!”
In the meantime, what can we expect from Tebi Rex? “New shows, new EP, all that kind of stuff,” says Matt. “Probably around February,” explains Dafe. “We also have our own first ever headline show. That will also be end of February, early March.” It’s only later that, as an afterthought, I message Matt about the meaning of their band name. “We wish we could tell you, but we haven’t told anyone. We’ve tried to leave subtle clues… and whoever figures it out gets… a prize or something.” Better get guessing, then.