The Weeknd initially didn’t think he had the “right look” to make it in the music industry.
During a discussion with playwright Jeremy O. Harris for the latest issue of Interview magazine, the singer-songwriter – real name Abel Tesfaye – reflected on why he chose to hide his identity when he first released music via YouTube 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 admitted concealing his appearance became a “gimmick” for a period of time but it became “impossible” due to the nature of the Internet.
And while he was ready to enter the business, he insisted it took a long time for him to feel confident as a performer.
“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. I think Coachella was my first performance in the U.S. and it might have been my fourth performance ever,” the 33-year-old added.
The Weeknd is about to begin promoting his first TV show, “The Idol.” The program is set to premiere via HBO on June 4th.