The Weeknd Talks Dating, Reading Critic Reviews and Being 'Sober Lite:' 'Drugs Were a Crutch'

"Abel is someone I go home to every night. And The Weeknd is someone I go to work as," the R&B superstar told GQ

The Weeknd GQ
Photo: Daniel Jackson/GQ

A new era of The Weeknd is on the way.

Starring as GQ's first global cover star, The Weeknd opened up about what it's like to date, why he stopped doing drugs and why he reads critical reviews of his music.

"The lines were blurry at the beginning," the 31-year-old told the magazine about his onstage The Weeknd persona versus his real name Abel Tesfaye. "And as my career developed — as I developed as a man — it's become very clear that Abel is someone I go home to every night. And The Weeknd is someone I go to work as."

The "Blinding Lights" star — who teased a new LP, "the album I've always wanted to make" — opened up about why he decided to become "sober lite." He still smokes weed and drinks "occasionally," but has left behind the drugs he used to sing about in much of his music. (See "Can't Feel My Face," among countless others.)

"I'm not a heavy drinker, as much as I used to be. The romance of drinking isn't there," he said, before adding, "Drugs were a crutch. It was me thinking that I needed it. And not doing the work to figure out how not to need it. And I've spent the last few years realizing that and thanking God that I don't need it. Because for a lot of people, it's hard to shake it. But I knew I didn't want it."

The Weeknd GQ
Daniel Jackson/GQ

Another reason for stopping his drug use? "I eventually want a family," he said.

Referring to his album Kiss Land, which many consider his weakest record, The Weeknd said he read all of the critical commentaries about the record.

"I think people were confused. It wasn't that it was bad music," he said about Kiss Land. "I think people were just confused. As much as I was confused. And I kind of like that."

Saying that the negative reviews "encouraged" him, he added, "I read every single review. I read every comment. Everything. And I like reviews, man. I like critics. Even the biased ones that are against me, I like reading it. I think it's interesting."

"I think it's humbling, which is always great," he continued. "I can now understand when you're reading stuff. Like I can see through the lines now. Between the lines... Heartbreak isn't a good experience, but it still inspires great music."

As for dating, The Weeknd revealed that he feels "guilty" when he brings attention to non-celebrities he dates.

"I try not to do too much. I just try not to bring attention to myself," he said. "And I just love being in normal situations, man. It's such a great feeling. To be able to just like go on a walk and not being in a f—ing SUV."

The Weeknd also further addressed being snubbed at the Grammys, saying the Recording Academy thought "I just wasn't good enough" even though he doesn't believe that. (He previously called the awards show "corrupt" after his hit album After Hours was left off any categories.)

RELATED VIDEO: The Weeknd Says Grammys 'Remain Corrupt' After Receiving No Nominations, Recording Academy Chair Responds

"When it happened, I had all these ideas and thoughts. I was angry and I was confused and I was sad," he said. "But now, looking back at it, I never want to know what really happened."

"I just don't care. Because that will never be the reason why I do what I do. It never really was before," he added. "And I'm glad that I can make music and not have to think about that. I'll never be in that conversation ever again."

The singer added that he has "no interest" in submitting his music for Grammy consideration, adding that he "will do better" in his music for himself and not for the Recording Academy.

"What makes any of my albums a successful album, especially this one, is me putting it out and getting excited to make the next one," The Weeknd said. "So the excitement to make the next project means that this one was successful to me. I want to do this forever. And even if I start getting into different mediums and different types of expressions, music will be right there. I'm not going to step away from it."

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