“We live in an era when everything is so excessive, I think it’s refreshing for everybody to be like, ‘Who the f— is this guy?'” Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, told Rolling Stone in his inaugural cover story for the mag.
With summer smash “Can’t Feel My Face” making even Kanye West shake it at the VMAs and “The Hills” getting comfy on the top of the Hot 100 for the fifth week running, The Weeknd is definitely a household name these days.
But as Josh Eells’ RS piece reveals, there is still so much fans haven’t heard — for instance, it’s really hard for Tesfaye to sleep on that signature head of hair. He’s also got the upcoming single “In the Night,” a Michael Jackson homage “that could become the Weeknd’s biggest hit yet,” the story says.
From quirky tidbits to deeper revelations, here’s five things we learned from “Sex, Drugs and R&B: Inside the Weeknd’s Dark Twisted Fantasy”:
Taylor Swift Played With His Hair at a Party Once
The scene? A Grammy afterparty at an $80 million mansion in Bel-Air with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Disclosure and big winner of the night Sam Smith in the mix. “Sam had just won, like, every Grammy, so he was having the time of his life,” Abel says. “[Swift] was like, ‘I’ve been listening to “The Morning” [from House of Balloons] for years — it’s one of my favorite songs ever!’ … The whole time she was talking, she was kind of, like, petting my hair? I think she was just drawn to it — she must have been a little gone off a few drinks. And of course I’m not going to be like, ‘Hey, can you stop?’ I mean, it felt good!”
His Father Took Off When He Was 1 or 2
“I saw him vaguely when I was 6, and then again when I was 11 or 12, and he had a new family and kids. I don’t even know where he lived — I’d see him for, like, a night,” Abel says. “I’m sure he’s a great guy. I never judged him. He wasn’t abusive, he wasn’t an alcoholic, he wasn’t an asshole. He just wasn’t there.”
He Thought He Was Going to be a Punk Star
Can you imagine a spontaneous dance party these days without The Weeknd’s Michael Jackson-worthy vocals? “I thought I’d be a punk star — grow my hair out, acne on my face, super-fucking-skinny. I was looking at artists like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, or Afropunk. But you evolve and realize your potential. And then it’s like, ‘F— yeah. Let’s go,'” he says.
He’s Been Through a Lot
From getting kicked out of school at 17 to not talking to his mother for a year to partying hard, The Weeknd went through the ringer before becoming the musician he is today. “I was addicted [to drugs] in the sense of ‘Fuck, I don’t want to spend this day without getting high.’ Like, ’08 to 2010 — those are my hazy years,” he says. “I have this lyric that goes, ‘I’m not scared of the fall/I’ve felt the ground before.’ And in this industry, I’m not really scared of failing, because I already know what it means to be on the ground.”
But Fear of Failure Drove Him to The Top of The Charts
“I think the worst thing anyone can say about an artist is, ‘He could have been great,'” he says. “I was always scared of being that guy where it’s like, ‘He could have been big. He could have been a star.’ I was afraid I’d see somebody else up there and be like, ‘You’re trying to tell me they’re better than me? Why? Because they’ve got a couple of smash records? I can do smashes. I could figure it out.’”?
Read the full cover story here.