The Weeknd — a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye — is not one for interviews, at least in the traditional sense. That’s why it doesn’t surprise us that in the wake of dropping Kiss Land this week, the musician decided to field the public’s questions via a less-than-traditional arena — a Reddit AMA (or Ask Me Anything) thread in which he revealed, among other things, where the name “The Weeknd” came from.
“I left home when I was about 17 dropped out of high school and convinced Lamar to do the same lol,” he said in answer to a query, referring to a member of his XO crew. “We grabbed our mattresses from our parents threw it in our friends shitty van and left one weekend and never came back home. It was gonna be the title of HOB [House of Balloons]. I hated my name at the time though so I tried it as a stage name. It sounded cool. I took out the “e” because there was already a Canadian band named the weekend (copyright issues).”
Tesfaye also revealed a bit more about his personal life in answers to other queries, telling fans that all of his dark, languid music is based on his real-life experiences, and giving us a glimpse into his upbringing in Canada. Although the musician is a Canadian native, his family hails from Ethiopia, and that ancestry has been a strong force in his life.”[Ahmaric was the] First language I learned,” said Tesfaye. “Had no dad and mom was working 24/7 so my grandma raised me until I was like 5. No English.” In another question, he credited his mother as one of his inspirations.
Revelations about his personal life were limited, however, in favor of queries about his music — although he did reveal that he is a “Game of Thrones” fan. In response to the following question, “How long did it take to make your first album, House of Balloons? Also, what are the main differences in creating music, now that you’re signed and famous?” Tesfaye got nostalgic for the days before his major label signing.
“House of Balloons was special because I had no deadlines and nobody knew me so there were no expectations,” he said. “Spent a year making it perfect. Every song had at least like 7 Different versions to them before picking the right one.”
Fans were most eager to hear about possible future collaborations and Tesfaye seemed happy to fill them in. When asked if he would work with the likes of Kavinsky (The Weeknd remixed his track “Odd Look”) and producer Carlo “Illangelo” Montagnese again, he responded in the affirmative. He was more cagey, however, about queries concerning Frank Ocean and Kanye collabs.
“Never met him. Love channel orange though!” he said of Ocean, and with regard to Kanye, he said, simply, “I’m not sure but kanye is the homie!” There have been rumblings of late that Kanye and Tesfaye were working together in Paris this summer.
Some fans got a little raunchy with their questions and, gamely, Tesfaye fielded a few. In response to “Are you a butt or boobs man?” he stated, plainly, “Both,” and when a fan asked, “Do you play your own music when you have sex with the ladies? Other music? No music?” he responded with a more impassioned, “No!!!!”
Despite The Weeknd’s apparent shyness, it’s not surprising that he chose to reach out to fans via the Reddit feature. In a series of videos produced for MTV News, The Weeknd recently stressed how important his fans are to his music.
“I feel like my fans will love Kiss Land because I didn’t change — it’s the same character, but in different settings and scenarios,” he said. “Once you’ve changed who you are or who you’ve portrayed in your music, the fans, they’ll catch it…. Once I feel like the world knows me for anything else but my music then I feel like I failed.”
Tesfaye stressed his allegiance to his fans again during the AMA when one fan asked why he goes to all the trouble to reach out to his supporters. “I do it because the only reason why I’m here is because of you!” he said. To another fan, he said: “If you’re an original fan then you will understand every decision I make. ‘Rolling Stone’ is definitely the past me talking to the present me on some Christopher Lloyd sh– lol. But I feel like I’m changing the industry more than its changing me. But hey, I could be wrong.”