Photo Credit: Jesse DeFlorio
Hidden among the countless chickens, cows, and pigs in the small farming town of Leamington, Ontario, is the musical household of an underrated singer-songwriter by the name of Billy Raffoul. By age 10, Raffoul began crafting original songs and eventually saw himself performing at local bars and clubs whenever the opportunity presented itself. Following his successful 2018 debut EP, 1975, Raffoul is once again proving that his heartfelt lyricism can evoke the purest of emotions with Running Wild.
A dynamic collection of five emotional tracks, Running Wild isn't bound to a single genre, as Raffoul incorporates elements of contemporary pop, bluesy folk, and stunning acoustics in this incredible project. Opening with the melancholic "Lovely," we immediately get a generous taste of Raffoul's genuine lyricism as his husky falsetto seemingly reflects on a missed opportunity or utter loss. What started off as random chords strummed on a gifted ukulele became the EP's second track, "Mental Health (Can't Do This By Yourself)," which sees Raffoul sharing his troubling experiences with mental conditions and encouraging others to speak up through uplifting melodies and comforting humming.
For the captivating "Bad For You," Raffoul collaborated with his good friend Julia Michaels to produce an ethereal soundscape with inescapable harmonizing. The self-proclaimed love song is then followed by "Coffee," a bittersweet tribute to the tenderness of budding romances that features addictive clapping and thoughtful choruses. The final shattering track, "Running Wild" was written for Raffoul's close cousin who suffered a brain aneurysm a few years ago. The beautiful arrangement in "Running Wild" showcases Raffoul's impeccable guitar work and undeniable commitment to touching songwriting we sense throughout the entire EP.
Break free from musical limitations with Billy Raffoul's Running Wild below:
Plus, revisit Raffoul's dreamy performance of "Acoustic" from the 1975 EP below:
To celebrate the highly anticipated release, Ones To Watch recently chatted with Billy Raffoul about his musical influences, collaboration with Julia Michaels, and of course, Running Wild.
OTW: Partially due to your gravelly voice, your signature sound has been described as "rough-hewn, low-timbered rock and roll." How would YOU classify your music?
Raffoul: I just love to write songs. If some of those come out sounding like rock and roll, I am happy about that. I love rock and roll. I wouldn't know how to classify my music. I'm influenced by so many drastically different things. I love to write songs and sing them for people.
OTW: You seek inspiration from either your personal experiences or those of the people closest to you because there's a sense of authenticity in what's been lived through. How do you channel these moments into your touching songwriting?
Raffoul: I often tend to write things that are conversational. "He said, she said," kind of things. I try to remember myself in the situation or create an image of what someone close to me experienced. Like scenes in a movie.
OTW: Your sophomore EP, Running Wild, isn't bounded to a singular genre as you incorporate elements of contemporary pop, bluesy folk, and stunning acoustics into this collection. What inspired you to showcase such a dynamic range of influences?
Raffoul: For the last few years, I've had the pleasure of working with people who create music that falls into different genres. Whether they are pop records, rock records, or EDM records, I am inspired by almost everything and wanted to experiment on this EP a bit more.
OTW: "Lovely" is your melancholic reflection of a missed opportunity with someone who once caught your attention. Can you walk us through the emotions you felt in that very moment?
Raffoul: The missed opportunity may not be what you think… I wrote it after my favorite football team missed a field goal… That didn't sing as well though.
OTW: You collaborated with your good friend Julia Michaels on "Bad For You," which is all about romantic love. What was it like working with her again on this project?
Raffoul: Working with Julia is such a pleasure. I'm very lucky to create with her. "Bad For You" was so easy. Took us maybe an hour and it felt very natural.
OTW: A dedication to a close cousin of yours who suffered a brain aneurysm, "Running Wild" is easily one of the most emotional tracks on the EP. What does this song mean to you?
Raffoul: "Running Wild" is a special song to me because of my cousin and where I grew up. I think about Leamington whenever I play this song. It is the oldest song on the EP.
OTW: How does the creative process for Running Wild differ from 2018's 1975?
Raffoul: This EP was actually recorded at the same time as 1975. With the exception of "Mental Health."
OTW: If you could play a headlining show anywhere in the world, where would you pick? Who would be your openers?
Raffoul: I would love to play a headlining show in Liverpool at the Cavern Club. With my brother Peter on the bill. (Because Beatles)
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Raffoul: Jake Schlegel (he played with us in Indianapolis); great guy and great songs!
Catch Billy Raffoul on tour with Parachute now!