From ‘Blinding Lights’ to flashing lights, photographer Pari Dukovic had music superstar The Weeknd striking his best poses for the latest issue of ‘Variety.’
On hand to discuss his latest blockbuster album, ‘After Hours,’ the Grammy winner waxed honest about fears the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would have on the long-awaited project, its accompanying tour, and more.
This side of history may see him the victor of battling those odds as the LP topped the Billboard 200 with gargantuan streaming figures (as we reported here), but behind the unfazed persona the singer (born Abel Tesfaye) wasn’t exactly confident it would.
Look inside to see Tesfaye get personal on this matter, reflect on the darkest days of his life, his Ethiopian heritage, and so much more:
ON WHY HE DECIDED AGAINST DELAYING HIS ALBUM DESPITE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
“Fans had been waiting for the album, and I felt like I had to deliver it,” he told ‘Variety.’ “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.”
ON LETTING ELTON JOHN HEAR HIS SAMPLE OF ‘YOUR SONG’:
“Before I played it for Elton, I was like, ‘F—, I hope he likes it.’ But he was freakin’ — he was like, ‘Mate, you’re gonna be doing this for a long time!’”
ON TURNING 30:
“I think people say your 30s are your best years because you’re becoming the person you’re supposed to be. And this is the beginning of not just a new chapter but my second decade [as a performer]. I feel like my career is just starting.”
ON THE BEGINNING OF HIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH MUSIC:
“I didn’t know that I had a gift with music, but I was always singing. I was actually getting in trouble because I would sing in class — my poor mother, it became a real problem,” he sighs. “I was really shy so I wasn’t really singing to my friends or girls, but when I was maybe 13, somebody said, ‘You actually have a pretty nice voice.’”
ON HIS CULTURAL BACKGROUND:
“Ethiopian — Amharic — was the first language I learned to form sentences in because my grandma, who raised me with my mom, would not speak English,” he says. “Because of television and being in Canada, I learned English too, but I went to French-immersion school, where you’d get in trouble for speaking English, and I couldn’t speak it to my grandma, so it’s almost like English is my third language, even though now it’s my first.”
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