Songwriter Profile with the Amazing Peter Raffoul

Night Writer

Peter Raffoul’s destiny was almost inevitable, but he took his time deciding to pursue music professionally. With father Jody Raffoul and older brother Billy both well-established musicians, Raffoul loved the idea of performing but wanted to be certain it was what he wanted before jumping in. Growing up around great songwriters, with evidence of success watching his dad and brother in the business, Raffoul says he feels very fortunate to have had a great roadmap and solid support.

First dabbling with drums at age 11, Raffoul’s parents split when he was a teenager and he inherited a garden shed (originally an art studio), where he first began playing the keyboard. Creating licks and melody lines, he admits, “I never knew less than I did then. I was just playing little chords and had no idea what I wanted anything to sound like.”

Writing his music at night also started as a teen. “I think it's harder to ignore whatever it is that you're going through at night. I got into this rhythm where it feels better to go on spurts of inspiration.” Starting with basic piano lessons to learn some chords, he added guitar over the last five years (which he plays upside down as a leftie, insisting on playing a right-handed guitar like older brother Billy).

In retrospect, Raffoul recognizes that he had always been paying attention and was intrigued in the evolution of songs and artists. Taking time to study songwriting structure, Raffoul remains mindful of the creative process, sharing that when you hear a great song that you wish you had written, it often comes down to a simple concept or just two chords. “They sang it just like it was, and it's heart,” he says. “Self-expression in a very simple way usually wins the day.”

While he starts with the melody and chord structure, his writing process is constantly changing. “There’s peaks and valleys when things feel like they're being forced, but I've gotten a lot out of just doing it as I feel it,” admits Raffoul. He recommends recording ideas as memos on your phone. Starting with a small melody or lick, Raffoul sings nonsense sounds over chords to see what lands.

“When I’m humming a melody long enough, or wake up the next day and still remember it, that's cool. I don’t get precious about things. If you latch on to every single thing, you'll beat it into the ground and feel less enthusiastic because you put too much value on something too soon.” Great music happens for Raffoul when he finds himself hearing a song as a listener, not a critic or musician, being captivated by the feeling throughout, rather than pulled into the song’s process or structure.

Starting out playing three 40-minute sets of covers a night before adding in originals, Raffoul says that his momentum to date has come down to the very blue-collar ‘you get out of what you put into it’ attitude handed down from his dad. “

Every day, week, and month, rent's due on this stuff,” he says. “You have to be doing the work. If you don't love it at face value, don't still feel like you're enjoying it when playing, you have to get back to that. That's the only real center of it. Everything else is borrowed, not guaranteed.” Even if you get signed to a label, Raffoul says not to expect to be taken care of, or buy into false confidence: “It all comes from you.”

Surprised at the catharsis and intrigue that his more intimate, emotional songs have garnered (“Don’t Hold On” and “For You”), Raffoul says, “I get to be myself at such a raw level and get to share, unfiltered. The worst thing that can happen is people won't listen, but the best is you can make somebody feel like you're with them when you play.”

2022’s Songs From House In Blue has a follow-up in the works, slated for release later this year. Catch Peter Raffoul at his CMW show, June 4 at Rivoli. Tickets at ticketweb.ca.

Contact Valle Music Management, [email protected]

Experience Peter Raffoul at peterraffoul.com