The Daily Grind Video

How very rare it is these days to hear the voice of a singer only on songs, and never, ever anywhere else?

The Weeknd has mastered the art of elusiveness when it comes to keeping the focus on his music, and only his music, but he’s decided to pull back the curtains and submit to his first ever interview – which also happens to be his first ever cover shoot – with Complex magazine. 

The 23-year-old singer, songwriter and producer, born Abel Tesfaye in Scarborough, Ontario, has managed to live the shadowed life that acts like Prince revel in; limited interaction with high-profile parties, no interviews, and definitely minimal photographs. But with the upcoming release of what he calls his first real album, the boy who didn’t leave Toronto until he was 21 has a whole lot of explaining to do. 

The Weeknd sat down with Complex to talk about his unintentional absence from the camera flash, the mindset behind his music, and to debunk just about every rumor there is surrounding his friendship with Drake. 

Check out some excerpts from the interview below. 

Why haven’t you done an interview until now?

I felt like I had nothing to say. I still feel I have nothing to say. I’m the most boring person to talk to.

So why now? Is your label pushing you to do press for the album?

…Honestly, I want to do interviews now because it’s one thing that I haven’t mastered. Even Prince did interviews. Michael did interviews. And I can tell in the interviews they’re uncomfortable. Why are they doing this? Because they feel like they have to do it to be a complete artist…

Is the air of mystery intentional?

Yes and no. In the beginning, I was very insecure. I hated how I looked in pictures. I just fucking hated this shit, like, crop me out of this picture right now. I was very camera shy. People like hot girls, so I put my music to hot girls and it just became a trend. The whole “enigmatic artist” thing, I just ran with it. No one could find pictures of me. It reminded me of some villain shit. But you can’t escape the Internet. There are super fans, and I was really testing their patience. At the end of the day you can’t deny the music. That was my whole thing: I’m going to let the music speak for itself. I’ll show them that this is what I do. But I’m very good at letting shit slide. If I wasn’t…

It’s that balance of high and low. To start a song off, “She pops that pussy on a Monday.” Where is this going from there?

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 “Pussy-ass nigga” 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…

Do you think Drake tapped you to give Take Care that feel?

Yeah, he told me he wouldn’t be able to do the album without me. You can read it on the credits that he thanked me. I don’t know if that’s him being generous, but I gave him a lot of records. I made “Practice.”

What did you do on “Practice”?

That whole hook was me. That’s probably the only song I wrote for Take Care. The rest of it was just shit I was going to have for [House of Balloons]. He really wanted to incorporate my sound, which was inspired by his sound. It’s not like, “Oh, I had the ‘new sound.’” It was just easier for him to relate to me, because it was his sound with an edge. It was that Toronto sound. So yeah, you’re right. I feel like I could have been that for his album.

People think you guys aren’t cool with each other anymore.

No, that’s not true. Definitely not true. But it makes sense. The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.

You mean in terms of your label deal?

Everything. I told him from day one what my decision was going to be. I wasn’t going that route. I was going to go my own route. And he supported me.

So when you read things about how you two are not cool…

—he’s like me when it comes to shit like that, too. He loves reading that stuff.

You both just brush it off?

Of course. I don’t like to spoon-feed people. I don’t like to be like, “You know what? I’m going to let the world know that we’re cool. We’re going to take a picture together. Everyone’s cool.” It’s all about the mystery, and people like it. Shit’s WWE, man. It’s wrestling, you know what I mean?

Taking his camera shyness into consideration, Complex did a 5-star job at keeping the photos mysterious yet artful, similar to The Weeknd’s personality.

Head over to for the full spread and the full interview. 

SOURCE: Complex Magazine.