The Weeknd has spoken about the influence of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on his music.
The Canadian singer – real name Abel Tesfaye – released the 1980s-inspired, synth-heavy album ‘After Hours’ in March 2020. Its second single ‘Blinding Lights’ became the biggest US Billboard Hot 100 song of all time this week.
During a new cover interview with Billboard, Tesfaye sat down with Max Martin – who co-produced/co-wrote the track – to discuss its inception.
“Abel came with the vision of what the song should be, which was a very different tempo and vibe than what is usually done,” Martin told the outlet. “He took a risk, and that was very impressive to us. We all felt this song was very special even early on in the process.”
The Weeknd explained: “[Grand Theft Auto:] Vice City really opened my eyes to a lot of ’80s music, so there was a nostalgia for when I was a kid playing video games and listening to Hall & Oates and Michael Jackson while driving through the city.”
Martin went on to say that they projected “a computer-animated car driving through a futuristic city” on the studio wall “for inspiration”, adding: “I hadn’t seen something like that before, and Abel came in and loved it.”
Tesfaye said that he’s “always been tinkering with the [sounds of the] ’80s”, explaining: “It was much more subtle before, but I’ve always wanted to completely dive into it. And 10 years in, I think I’ve earned it.”
Released in 2002, Vice City is set in 1986 and features many well-known tracks from that era.
As for the follow-up to ‘After Hours’ – reportedly titled ‘The Dawn’ – The Weeknd said to expect “EDM, hip-hop and three other types of sounds in one song – and somehow, we make it work”.
“When it comes to my albums, there is a cohesive sound going on, but I can’t really stick to one style,” he explained.
The Weeknd shared the first taste of his forthcoming fifth studio effort over the summer with ‘Take My Breath’. He has since teamed up with Swedish House Mafia and Post Malone on ‘Moth To A Flame’ and ‘One Right Now’ respectively.
Last month Abel Tesfaye said his new album was almost complete, revealing that the “only thing missing is a couple [of] characters that are key to the narrative”.