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"I knew how important it was to my fans," the Weeknd said

By Eric Todisco
April 08, 2020 03:45 PM
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The Weeknd
Credit: Pari Dukovic for Variety

The coronavirus pandemic has had severe implications on the music industry, forcing many artists — including Lady Gaga, Luke Bryan and Alicia Keys — to push back the release date of their upcoming albums.

But for The Weeknd, delaying the release of After Hours, his first album in four years that dropped last month, wasn’t even an option for the Canadian singer.

“I cut that discussion off right away,” the 30-year-old said in the cover story for Variety‘s latest issue.

“Fans had been waiting for the album, and I felt like I had to deliver it,” he said. “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.”

The Weeknd
The Weeknd
| Credit: Pari Dukovic for Variety

The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, released After Hours on Mach 20. The 14-track collection runs about 56 minutes and includes hit songs like “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights.”

The R&B singer touches on dark moments from his past in the new album — even when he tried to avoid doing so.

“I didn’t want to, but sometimes you try to run away from who you are, and you always get back to that place,” he told Variety.

“By the end of this album, you realize, ‘I’m not that person,’ ” he shared. “I was, but 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.”

The Weeknd
The Weeknd
| Credit: Pari Dukovic for Variety

The Weeknd explained that his song “Faith” was inspired by his life around 2013 and 2014 — which he calls “the darkest time of my entire life.”

“I was getting really, really tossed up and going through a lot of personal stuff,” he said. “I got arrested in Vegas. 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.”

“I always wanted to make that song but I never did, and this album felt like the perfect time, because [the character] is looking for an escape after a heartbreak or whatever,” he added. “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
Credit: Pari Dukovic for Variety

The singer also touched on recent happier times in life — specifically his 30th birthday celebration in February with the man who inspired him to become a performer: fellow Canadian Jim Carrey.

The Mask was the first film I ever went to see in a theater — my mom took me when I was 4, and it blew me away,” The Weeknd recalled. “I texted [Jim Carrey] the address of my condo in L.A., and he said, ‘I can literally see your place from my balcony,’ and we got out telescopes and were waving to each other.”

“On my [30th] birthday, he called and told me to look out my window, and on his balcony he had these giant red balloons, and he picked me up and we went to breakfast,” he continued.

Calling it a “surreal experience, The Weeknd added, “Jim Carrey was my first inspiration to be any kind of performer, and I went to breakfast with him on my first day of being 30.”