At first, The Weeknd didn’t believe he had the “right look” to succeed in the music business.
The singer-songwriter, real name Abel Tesfaye, reflected on why he decided to conceal his identity when he first released music via YouTube in 2010 during a conversation with playwright Jeremy O. Harris for the most recent issue of Interview magazine.
When it came to how I wanted people to perceive me or hear my music, I wanted to be very strategic. When I was younger, especially for R&B, I didn’t think I was marketable, which is why I initially did that. I didn’t think I looked the part,” he admitted. “Back in the day, the R&B look was very sexual.
There were obviously many singers who didn’t have the typical R&B appearance, but for me, it was more of a personal preference. I enjoyed hearing someone’s objective response to my music. People could only evaluate me based on the music and art I was producing.
The Weeknd acknowledged that hiding his appearance was once a “gimmick” but that it is now “impossible” because of the way the Internet operates.
Even though he was prepared to work in the industry, he insisted that it took him some time to develop his confidence as a performer.
“The live performances—going out there and introducing yourself to people for the first time—were the real challenge. Additionally, I had to sing, which I had never done live before, so I was also subjected to criticism for that. I believe Coachella was my fourth performance overall and my first in the United States, the 33-year-old continued.
The Weeknd is about to start promoting The Idol, his debut TV program. On June 4, HBO is scheduled to broadcast the program’s debut.