By Nakiya Morgan
In the midst of preparing for his forthcoming album, Kiss Land, The Weeknd sat down with Complex to give them an exclusive look at himself as an artist, his past work and his upcoming projects (which coincides with the premiere of his new video "Belong to the World"). Despite first hitting the scene in 2011 with his popular mixtape House of Balloons, The Weeknd has never granted any one the opportunity to interview him until now.
Although the enigmatic soul released a compilation album called Trilogy back in 2012, he feels that his new album tops that. “To me, this is my first album,” The Weeknd told Complex. “Kiss Land is definitely my first album.”
The Weeknd on his way of making music: “There are two ways of making music for me. There’s a calculated route—like, I know exactly what I’m going to do with this song. And then there’s the free mind. I’ll make the music first and loop it, and then I’ll go into the booth and start singing almost 45 minutes straight. And these are not words; this is gibberish. It’s a songwriter language.
On Kiss Land and Toronto: There’s a lot of cool twists with this album, because this album symbolizes everything that I’d never experienced in the past 21 years of my life. From when I was born to when I was 21, I never left Toronto. That’s why I’m such a city cat. Trilogy is my experiences in those four walls. Kiss Land is me doing the things I did in Trilogy in different settings.”
"Kiss Land symbolizes the tour life, but it’s a world that I created in my head. Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it’s a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It’s a place I’ve never been to before that I’m very unfamiliar with.”
Origin of the album title: “The title came from a conversation that I overheard and those words stuck out. Someone said, “Kiss Land” and I thought, “That’s going to be the title of my album.”
Paying homage to R.Kelly and Prince: “I’m a huge fan of R. Kelly’s. He’s a musical genius, and probably the most prolific artist of the generation before mine. Some of the lines he says, if you say them in a normal voice, it’s the most disgusting thing you could say to somebody. But I can say “P----y-ass n----” in the most elegant and sexiest way ever, and it’s accepted. If I can get away with singing that, I’m doing something right. All that ignorance on my records—“When she put it in her mouth, she can’t seem to reach my…”—that’s me paying homage to R. Kelly, and even Prince to a certain extent.”
The meaning of “Belong to the World”: “Belong to the World” is about falling in love with the wrong person. There are some songs where I talk about the same person, but I like to make every song about someone else. Thursday is a conceptual album. Whatever that situation was, I spent the whole album focusing on that situation.”
Kiss Land's horror film inspiration: “A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear. I don’t know who I am right now and I’m doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I’m not familiar with. To me, it’s the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I’m feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie.”