Abel Tesfaye launched his career more than a decade ago by releasing music under the mysterious stage moniker The Weeknd. But after scooping more than a dozen Billboard Music Awards, four Grammy Awards and billions of streams in the years since, it sounds like he might be ready to say goodbye to the bad guy.
“I’m going through a cathartic path right now. It’s getting to a place and a time where I’m getting ready to close the Weeknd chapter,” the singer told W Magazine in a new cover story alongside his The Idol co-star Lily-Rose Depp. “I’ll still make music, maybe as Abel, maybe as The Weeknd. But I still want to kill The Weeknd. And I will. Eventually. I’m definitely trying to shed that skin and be reborn.”
If you followed the story line of the singer’s 2020 After Hours album, you might have gotten the sense that Abel was already setting out on the path of The Weeknd’s demise given the amount of bloody damage his alter ego suffered in the videos for the LP’s singles. “The album I’m working on now is probably my last hurrah as The Weeknd,” he added of his untitled next collection. ” This is something that I have to do. As The Weeknd, I’ve said everything I can say.”
Though it sounds like inhabiting The Weeknd has taken its toll on Abel, he said slipping into the guise of cult leader Tedros on the upcoming HBO musical drama The Idol also had an emotional and physical impact on him. “I had to take off the Weeknd outfit, put on Tedros’s wig, shoot with [Rose’s character] Jocelyn, then go back to being The Weeknd,” he said of the mind-messing back-and-forth between his two personas.
“Then, after the concert, I lost my voice. No voice came out at all. That’s never happened before. My theory is that I forgot how to sing because I was playing Tedros, a character who doesn’t know how to sing,” he said of the devious character at the center of the series slated to premiere on Max on June 4. “I may be looking too deeply into this, but it was terrifying. As The Weeknd, I’ve never skipped a concert. I’ve performed with the flu. I’ll die on that stage. But there was something very complicated going on with my mind at that moment.”
See some pics from the W shoot below.