If you do not know who Abel Tesfaye is then you need to be in the loop right away.
Better known by his stage name The Weeknd, this 25 year old Toronto-based rising star is quite a mystery. Having never done a single interview to date, this PBR&B singer and songwriter still manages to keep a strong fan base with his intricate musical charisma and unconventional style.
Although he is based in Canada, Tesfaye’s parents were born in Ethiopia. “Ahmaric was the first language I learned,” said Tesfaye in a Reddit AMA (or Ask Me Anything) thread. “Had no dad and mom was working 24/7 so my grandma raised me until I was like 5. No English.”
He acknowledges this part of his heritage, which he is proud of, through the music video for “The Knowing” which includes scenes shot and montaged in Addis Ababa in the 1970s, and moves on to an apocalyptic future. The eclectic nature of his music and videos adds to the mystery, but once his vocals kick in, it can be clear to anyone that he has talent:
In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name The Weeknd. As with most Toronto-based artists, he is pals with Aubrey Graham, a.k.a. hip-hop megastar Drake, who helped him a lot at the beginning of his career by posting the first three tracks The Weeknd threw online to his blog, which then went viral. They have also featured together on a couple of songs.
His crew, called XO, is claimed to stand for hugs and kisses, while others claim the letters represent the drugs ecstasy and oxycontin. Considering the content of his songs, both seem equally likely. Regardless, he and all of his regular collaborators have the letters XO at the end of their Twitter accounts, and his fans regularly quote their motto “XO ’til we overdose.”
It was not until he wrote the song “Earned It” for the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack that he exploded on the more commercial and popular scene across the globe due to the movie’s fame.
When asked about the origins of his stage name, he took to Reddit (since he never does formal interviews) to get up close and personal with his fans. “I left home when I was about 17 dropped out of high school and convinced Lamar to do the same lol,” he said referring to a member of his crew. “We grabbed our mattresses from our parents threw it in our friends shitty van and left one weekend and never came back home. 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).”
Despite The Weeknd’s apparent shyness, it’s not surprising that he chooses to reach out to fans via the Reddit feature. In a series of videos produced for MTV News, The Weeknd stressed how important his fans are to his music.
“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.”
So far he has not failed his fans. At the BET Awards a few days ago, The Weeknd won an award for “Earned It”, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts, and was the winner in the Centric Award category, named after a BET sister channel. He also captured his audience that night with a performance of “The Hills”, one of his huge success videos this year, followed by a surprise performance with Alicia Keys.
Watch the music video for “The Hills” below:
The Weeknd is currently making waves with his track “Can’t Feel My Face” and we cannot wait to see the video for it. In the meantime enjoy the audio. For more of The Weeknd check out the official YouTube channel.