The Weeknd (né Abel Tesfaye) is arguably 2015’s biggest breakthrough artist. With two number one singles under his belt – “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” – the 25-year-old Toronto native is the 12th artist in music history to smash the charts with a back-to-back number one hit. Though he continues to top headlines with star-studded remixes, a game-changing music video, and a YEEZY Season 1 photo spread, little is in fact known about the enigmatic R&B sensation… until now.
Covering the November issue of Rolling Stone alongside the headline “Sex, Drugs and R&B: Inside the Weeknd’s Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Tesfaye sheds his cryptic persona and grazes through the gamut of topics relating to his life in and outside of music. From Taylor Swift anecdotes to being driven by fear, check out some highlights from the in-depth interview below.
““I gave up almost half of my album. 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.” That said: “You never know what I would say if this success wasn’t in front of me now.””
On his first encounter with Taylor Swift.
““She actually schooled me on my own shit,” Tesfaye says. “She was like, ‘I’ve been listening to ‘The Morning’”
““I never needed detox or anything,” he says. “But I was addicted in the sense of ‘Fuck, I don’t want to spend this day without getting high.'” For a while he was homeless and couch-surfing; he didn’t talk to his mom for a year. “Like, ’08 to 2010 — those are my hazy years,” Tesfaye says. “I have this lyric that goes, ‘I’m not scared of the fall/I’ve felt the ground before.’ And in this industry, I’m not really scared of failing, because I already know what it means to be on the ground.””
On being driven by fear.
““I think the worst thing anyone can say about an artist is, ‘He could have been great,'” he says. “I was always scared of being that guy where it’s like, ‘He could have been big. He could have been a star.’ I was afraid I’d see somebody else up there and be like, ‘You’re trying to tell me they’re better than me? Why? Because they’ve got a couple of smash records? I can do smashes. I could figure it out.'””
Read the full interview over at Rolling Stone.