In this week’s issue of Billboard, the Canadian singer admits that he’s suffered from stage fright.
“I used to be very nervous, especially about performing on TV,” explains The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye. “It’s usually just nerves when somebody sounds bad. People who become famous for singing are usually pretty good at singing.”
The 26-year-old has discovered that recognition helps partially soothe the fears, however.
“Now, when I step out at the American Music Awards or on Saturday Night Live, I have fans,” he says. “Before, I was just some indie R&B singer and I had to prove myself. You could hear a pin drop in some of those TV stations. Now, people come out and buy tickets. I hear them scream my name, so I know I’ll be fine. They want me to do well.”
The Weeknd, whose new album is topping the charts, tells Billboard he realized that nerves were getting the best of him after performing at Coachella for the first time in 2012.
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“I looked at the tape and said, ‘I have to do better. This is my life,’ ” the Grammy-winning musician explains. “I was not satisfied. It was my first U.S. gig, playing the second main stage at dusk. That was a big move.”
He adds, “I never thought I’d love going onstage, but I do now. I’m addicted to it.”
“When I had nothing to do but make music, it was very heavy,” he said. “Drugs were a crutch for me. There were songs on my first record that were seven minutes long, rambling – whatever thoughts I was having when I was under the influence at the time. I can’t see myself doing that now.”
The Weeknd went on to say that when he was 18, there was “some sort of near-miss with the law,” adding that he spent “nights in jail.” He claims it was “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.”
“Yeah,” he replied, agreeing with the interviewer’s description of his former relationships. “Uh. Yeah. I mean… in life… what relationship is easy?”