The Bite Magazine - Autmn/Winter 2020 - Issue 28

bitemusicceleb O nce a shy and reserved artist at the start of his music career, The Weeknd has shared more of himself in his latest album After Hours . When Abel Tesfaye, the singer’s real name, released three vid- eos on YouTube anonymously in 2011, his air of mys- tery intrigued viewers so much that they wanted to know who was behind the voice. The reason for his reluctance was, “We live in an era when everything is so excessive. I think it’s refreshing for everybody to be like, ‘Who the f**k is this guy?’” By remaining a mystery at the time, he believed he would have a long career because he hadn’t given peo- ple everything at once. On the concept of his image as an artist that would evolve with his signature dreadlocks inspired by artist Jean-Michael Basquiat, The Weeknd added. “I thought I’d be a punk star - grow my hair out, acne on my face, super-f**king-skinny. I was looking at artists like Iggy Pop and the Ramones or Afropunk. But you evolve and realise your potential. And then, it’s like, ‘F**k yeah. Let’s go.’” He also had someone in Drake’s camp to thank for get- ting him attention from the online music world when his three early tracks were posted on a blog, and even more when he appeared on Drake’s 2011 album Take Care . Al- though he has nothing but gratitude for Drake, many of his songs ended up on the rapper’s album instead. “I gave up almost half of my album,” he said. “It’s hard. I will always be thankful - if it wasn’t for the light, he shined on me, who knows where I’d be. And everything happens for a reason.” In 2015, the singer admitted to Vanity Fair, “People al- ways say when they meet me that I’m not what they ex- pect.” It is as if they perceive the edgy part-R&B, part-pop artist to be a somewhat mysterious recluse, a holdover from his days of deliberately obscuring his identity. “I as- sume they think I’m this super dark and depressing guy, but I like to channel all of those emotions into my work. I’m pretty laid-back in real life. I just love hanging with my friends and making jokes. The jokes don’t stop - lit- erally, all day.” The Weeknd’s musical inspirations include Michael Jack- son, Prince, and R. Kelly. His high-flying vocal style is influenced by Ethiopian singers and musicians like Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke, whose music was played all