The Weeknd says he “didn’t think he was marketable” when he was younger

"I wanted to be very calculated about how I wanted people to see me or hear my music"

The Weeknd has said he didn’t think he was “marketable” when he first began his music career.

The artist, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, was talking to Interview magazine about his reasons for hiding his identity when he first began releasing music on YouTube back in 2010.

“I wanted to be very calculated about how I wanted people to see me or hear my music. The initial reason I did that was I didn’t think I was marketable when I was younger, especially for R&B. I didn’t think I had the right look,” he explained.


“The R&B look was very sexual back in the day. Obviously, there were a lot of singers that didn’t have the conventional R&B look, but for me, it was more of a personal thing. I liked getting an unbiased reaction from my music. People got to just judge me for the art, for the music I was putting out.”

The Weeknd
The Weeknd performs during his ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ tour at SoFi Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Los Angeles CREDIT: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Live Nation

Tesfaye then said that maintaining his anonymity became “impossible” thanks to the nature of the Internet. The real challenge for him, however, was performing live.

“The real challenge was the live performances, going out there and showing yourself to people for the first time. And on top of that, I had to sing, and I had never performed live before, so I got thrown into the fire for that as well,” he said. “I think Coachella was my first performance in the U.S. and it might have been my fourth performance ever.”

Earlier this week, The Weeknd released a new song with Future, ‘Double Fantasy’, which appears on the soundtrack of to new HBO drama The Idol. The Weeknd co-created the show with Sam Levinson and Reza Fahim, and is said to be “one of HBO’s most provocative” shows yet.

He also appears in the show alongside Lily-Rose Depp, Mike Dean, Moses Sumney, Hank Azaria, and Jennie of BLACKPINK.


The series will premiere at this year’s Festival De Cannes and is set to be released on June 4.

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