The Weeknd nabs the cover of Complex magazine's August/September issue/
The Weeknd is known to be a mysterious character, shying away from the usual spotlight requirements of interviews, vlogs, or anything that really shows us who The Weeknd is-- unless it's his music. With his debut album on a major label, Kiss Land, now slated for release on August 27th, it's a good time for fans to learn a little bit more about the r'n'b singer.
Check out excerpts from their interview below, as well as Abel Tesfaye's photo shoot with Complex in the gallery above.
Why haven’t you done an interview until now?
I felt like I had nothing to say. I still feel I have nothing to say. I’m the most boring person to talk to.
So why now? Is your label pushing you to do press for the album?
No, labels always push. I mean, Trilogy was a rerelease, but they still said, “Maybe you should do some interviews.” Honestly, I want to do interviews now because it’s one thing that I haven’t mastered. Even Prince did interviews. Michael did interviews. And I can tell in the interviews they’re uncomfortable. Why are they doing this? Because they feel like they have to do it to be a complete artist. I felt like this was my time. And maybe I wouldn’t have done it if I thought you were an asshole. I probably would have been like, “Fuck this guy.”
Is the air of mystery intentional?
Yes and no. In the beginning, I was very insecure. I hated how I looked in pictures. I just fucking hated this shit, like, crop me out of this picture right now. I was very camera shy. People like hot girls, so I put my music to hot girls and it just became a trend. The whole “enigmatic artist” thing, I just ran with it. No one could find pictures of me. It reminded me of some villain shit. But you can’t escape the Internet. There are super fans, and I was really testing their patience. At the end of the day you can’t deny the music. That was my whole thing: I’m going to let the music speak for itself. I’ll show them that this is what I do. But I’m very good at letting shit slide. If I wasn’t…
What are some flaws you saw in your past three releases?
Just technical, musical stuff. And, of course, writing. You’re bound to find flaws and repetition when you come out with three albums in one year. At that point I was very cavalier; I didn’t give a shit. Some people realize it and some don’t. Me, I’m very critical.
I’m not here to change or lie about what I’m going to do. What I sing about is what I sing about. But there’s a lot of cool twists with this album, because this album symbolizes everything that I’d never experienced in the past 21 years of my life. I’d never left Toronto. I’d driven to Montreal, but I’d never been on a plane before two or three years ago.
Since Trilogy, you’ve made songs with Wiz, Juicy J...
—French Montana, Drake. They are all friends of mine. Every time Wiz came to Toronto, my friend would take me to his concerts and bring me backstage. To this day, he’s the realest dude ever. So when he asked me to work with him, I did it without hesitation.
When you do a feature for other artists, do you give them an entire song?
With “Crew Love,” it wasn’t like that. Like I said, that was my song. I had a hook and I had a second verse. And Drake heard it and he was like, “Fuck, man.”
What did you do on “Practice”?
That whole hook was me. That’s probably the only song I wrote for Take Care. The rest of it was just shit I was going to have for [House of Balloons]. He really wanted to incorporate my sound, which was inspired by his sound. It’s not like, “Oh, I had the ‘new sound.’” It was just easier for him to relate to me, because it was his sound with an edge. It was that Toronto sound. So yeah, you’re right. I feel like I could have been that for his album.
People think you guys aren’t cool with each other anymore.
No, that’s not true. Definitely not true. But it makes sense. The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.
You mean in terms of your label deal?
Everything. I told him from day one what my decision was going to be. I wasn’t going that route. I was going to go my own route. And he supported me.
Last night in the studio you said Kiss Land was a ridiculous title.
Yeah, because Kiss Land symbolizes the tour life, but it’s a world that I created in my head. Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it’s a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It’s a place I’ve never been to before that I’m very unfamiliar with.
A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear. I don’t know who I am right now and I’m doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I’m not familiar with. To me, it’s the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I’m feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie.
You can also check out The Weeknd's new visual for "Belong To The World," off Kiss Land, below.