Today, singer/songwriter Billy Raffoul shares his powerful new song “What Makes a Man” and its accompanying video. “What Makes a Man” is the first single from Raffoul’s upcoming album International Hotel, due out via Interscope Records on August 28.
Sparsely arranged but full of raw feeling, “What Makes a Man” is a profoundly moving protest song that speaks out against systemic racism in policing. As Raffoul explains, “What Makes a Man” was the final song written and recorded for International Hotel.
“I knew I wanted another song, and with so many important things going on in the world I was finding it hard to write another love song,” says Raffoul. “I thought about how since the quarantine started in March I had been driving my car around with expired plates for three months. I couldn’t get down to Nashville to get new tags, yet still, I didn’t think twice about it. I can’t help but feel like that is a confidence that only privilege can give you.”
Like all the songs on International Hotel, “What Makes a Man” was recorded with two microphones in Raffoul’s girlfriend’s room in his hometown of Leamington, Ontario. The simplicity of that approach is perfectly suited to the rugged intimacy of Raffoul’s songwriting, and to the Americana-leaning sensibilities, he brought to the making of International Hotel. To that end, “What Makes a Man” marks the first time Raffoul ever recorded a song with harmonica (a move partly inspired by Neil Young, one of his musical heroes). The song’s homespun austerity also extends to its video, shot in warm black-and-white and quietly centred on Raffoul’s impassioned performance.
Watch the video for “What Makes a Man” by Billy Raffoul – BELOW:
Raffoul announced the forthcoming release of International Hotel during the first show of his International Hotel IG Live Tour, treating fans to a surprise performance of “What Makes a Man.” Launched on August 5th, the International Hotel IG Live Tour continues through the end of August, with shows taking place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST on Raffoul’s IG account.
About Billy Raffoul:
Growing up in the small farming town of Leamington, Ontario, Raffoul first discovered his gift for songwriting at age ten, thanks in no small part to the influence of his father — a musician who’s opened for everyone from Joe Cocker to Bon Jovi. After landing his first paying gig (playing to long-haul drivers at a local truck stop), Raffoul began performing at nearby bars and clubs at age 16, often driving into Detroit for shows. He eventually connected with a manager and moved down to Nashville to push forward with his music career. Soon after scoring a deal with Interscope Records, Raffoul released the critically acclaimed song “Driver,” which he then followed with his debut EP 1975 (a 2018 release featuring the fan favourite “Acoustic”). Arriving in spring 2019, his sophomore EP Running Wild found him joining forces with leading producers like Greg Kurstin, as well as collaborating with such boundary-breaking artists as singer/songwriter Julia Michaels.
In April 2020, Raffoul returned with his third EP, A Few More Hours at YYZ. Over the past few years, he’s opened for heavyweights like Kings of Leon, X Ambassadors, and NEEDTOBREATHE, captivating crowds with his understated yet intensely passionate stage presence. After postponing the West Coast run of his A Few More Hours At…2020 North American Tour, Raffoul found himself back in Leamington and immediately took to Instagram Live for intimate performances from his father’s home. Since the launch of the Still Social Distancing Tour 2020, he’s joined forces with special guest artists like Alec Chambers, Zac Barnett, Caitlyn Smyth, Wrabel, John Paul White, and more.