UPDATE (8/3): The Weeknd is dropping a new song, “Take My Breath,” on Friday after teasing the track in a spot for the 2021 Olympics.
Abel Tesfaye has shed the red jacket and bandages of the Weeknd’s After Hours era to do a rare interview with GQ during which he teased his upcoming album, which has been described as “Quincy Jones meets Giorgio Moroder.” “It’s the album I’ve always wanted to make,” he told the magazine of the record.
He also dropped an instrumental teaser clip on socials early Monday, pounding music overlaying an image of a landscape and a rising sun.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) August 2, 2021
Over the course of the wide-ranging interview, Tesfaye first touched on his the Weeknd persona and how he differs from who he is at home: “The lines were blurry at the beginning. And as my career developed— as I developed as a man — it’s become very clear that Abel is someone I go home to every night. And the Weeknd is someone I go to work as. …Abel can be badass sometimes, man. But I guess the Weeknd is Hyde. Abel is Dr. Jekyll.”
He also talked about how no one knew who he was when he dropped his first mixtape, 2011’s House of Balloons, and recalled hearing one of his own songs when he was working at American Apparel.
“I am not dark,” he added. “My art is dark, and I’ve gone through dark times. I’ve used those dark times as inspiration for my art. But I feel like because I’m not dark, I was able to channel it and put it into my music and into my art.”
Tesfaye then addressed how After Hours was roundly snubbed during the last Grammys, and how he decided to no longer submit his music for the annual awards show. “I guess I just wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I just don’t care. Because that will never be the reason why I do what I do. It never really was before. And I’m glad that I can make music and not have to think about that. I’ll never be in that conversation ever again.”