The Weeknd covers Complex

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The Weeknd has always let his music do the talking—dark, debauched mixtapes that changed the sound of modern R&B and profoundly influenced Drake’s sophomore album, Take Care. Now, As Abel Tesfaye prepares his debut album, Kiss Land, he’s speaking out for the first time. Listen up.

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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, “**** 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 ****ing hated this ****, 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 ****. 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 **** slide. If I wasn’t…

—you’d go crazy.
I feel like I’m already crazy. I just wouldn’t be able to focus on my music. If I didn’t let **** slide, I’d probably still be working on Echoes of Silence right now. But, I know how to let go of ********. And I know how to let go of unmixed and unmastered records. But not anymore. To me, this is my first album. Kiss Land is definitely my first album.

A fresh start.
Yeah, that’s why I didn’t want to mix and master House of Balloons or Thursday or Echoes of Silence. I didn’t feel like they were my albums. Those were my mixtapes.

It was a hell of a mixtape.
Yeah, man. I just wanted to make the greatest mixtape of all time, that’s all. And if I didn’t, I definitely made the longest mixtape of all time. [Laughs.]

Which of the three resonates with you the most?
House of Balloons is the most important for me because I spent the most time on it. I didn’t have a deadline for that. As soon as I put House of Balloons out, I let the world know I’m coming out with two more albums this year, so I had my own little deadline. Before House of Balloons, it was all freedom.

House of Balloons was actually supposed to have more songs than it does. I had so many records left, and then Take Care came through. “Crew Love,” “Shot for Me,” and “The Ride” were supposed to be on House of Balloons. I wanted to come out with like 14 records. I felt like “The Ride” was the last one, and it wasn’t done yet. [Drake] heard it and he was like, “This shit’s crazy.”
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