The Weeknd Goes In-Depth With “Variety” On His New Album and Journey in the Music Industry

Posted on April 8th, 2020
Staff Editor

After releasing his hit new album “After Hours,” R&B superstar The Weeknd opened up to Variety and shared highly interesting facts and opinions regarding his work and career in the industry. Although the album was being considered for a new release date due to the COVID 19 pandemic, The Weeknd was determined to deliver his new music on time; especially with the world tour for the album, which was set to hit North America and Europe in June, suffering a confirmed delay. 

“Fans had been waiting for the album, and I felt like I had to deliver it. The commercial success is a blessing, especially because the odds were against me: [Music] streaming is down 10%, stores are closed, people can’t go to concerts, but I didn’t care. I knew how important it was to my fans.”

Since its release, the album has debuted at number one in multiple countries including his home of Canada, the U.S. and many more. With 2 billion global streams and nearly 2 million in global consumption in its first week, “After Hours” was well-respected and appreciate by many Pop and R&B fans.

Image via Pari Dukovic for Variety

In his Variety interview, The Weeknd also shares his thoughts and emotions behind some of our favorite album cuts. In regards to his record “Scared to Live,” which features an interpolation of Elton John’s “Your Song,” The Weeknd reveals, “Before I played it for Elton, I was like, ‘F—, I hope he likes it.’ But he was freakin’ — he was like, ‘Mate, you’re gonna be doing this for a long time!’”

Elton John also opened up to Variety to share his opinions of The Weeknd and “Scared to Live.” “Abel has his own unique artistic voice — that’s the hallmark of a genuinely great, long-term artist. I’m utterly thrilled that the DNA for ‘Your Song’ has found its way into ‘Scared to Live.’ It’s the greatest compliment a songwriter can ever receive.”

Yes, The Weeknd is known for providing a unique level of depth and substance to R&B records, but one of his latest tracks “Faith” finds him exploring what he calls “the darkest time of my entire life.” He further explains “I was getting really, really tossed up and going through a lot of personal stuff. I got arrested in Vegas [for punching a police officer; he later pleaded no contest]. It was a real rock-star era, which I’m not really proud of. You hear sirens at the end the song — that’s me in the back of the cop car, that moment.”

Image via Pari Dukovic for Variety

When discussing both his experience and the song “Faith,” he says, “…[the character] is looking for an escape after a heartbreak or whatever. I wanted to be that guy again — the ‘Heartless’ guy who hates God and is losing his f—ing religion and hating what he looks like in the mirror so he keeps getting high. That’s who this song is.”

The Weeknd makes it clear that he is determined to not spend his life running away from his demons as he says, “… I’m growing and wiser, and I’m gonna have children someday, and I’m going to tell them they don’t have to be that person.”

Earlier in his career, The Weeknd actually attended film school as Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” inspired him to tackle the creative industries. Although the superstar was supposed to be focused in class, he admits he would always sing in class and it became a problem for both him and his mother. “I didn’t know that I had a gift with music, but I was always singing.” 

Image via Pari Dukovic for Variety

He continues on, “I got into a lot of trouble, got kicked out of school, moved to different schools and finally dropped out. I really thought film was gonna be my way out, but I couldn’t really make a movie to feel better, you know?” The Weeknd would soon learn that his true path to creative expression would be through music as he goes on to state, “Music was very direct therapy; it was immediate and people liked it. It definitely saved my life.”

During the interview, The Weeknd discusses his groundbreaking “House of Balloons” project, which first introduced his unique and popular sound to the R&B world. While his manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby believes, “Abel created this whole new R&B wave everyone is on now,” The Weeknd even goes on to say, “‘House of Balloons’ literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” before referencing Usher’s song “Climax,” which he called “a Weeknd song.” 

“I heard ‘Climax,’ that [2012] Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f—, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.” 

Although the COVID outbreak has shaken up our world quite a bit, The Weeknd revealed that he is holding up okay during this time as he says, “I’m always sitting inside working, so it’s not that different from any other day.” He continues, “Although I am a contrarian, and I don’t like being told what to do, so not being able to go out is tough. But music is therapy, thank God I’ve got that.”

While fans can still look forward to all-new show dates for the rescheduled “After Hours” Tour to be released soon, The Weeknd seems to be in a positive space as he enters a new phase of his life. “I think people say your 30s are your best years because you’re becoming the person you’re supposed to be. And this is the beginning of not just a new chapter but my second decade [as a performer]. I feel like my career is just starting.”

Feature Image via Variety

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