Toronto R&B crooner The Weeknd is on the cover of Variety’s latest issue where he opened up about his latest musical release, After Hours, and turning 30.
The project marked his first full-length release in nearly four years since 2016’s Starboy. Unfortunately, it coincided with the novel coronavirus outbreak that has since spiraled into a global pandemic that has halted economies with millions of global citizens ordered to shelter-in-place.
Nevertheless, The Weeknd stuck by his guns.“Fans had been waiting for the album, and I felt like I had to deliver it,” he explained of his reasoning. “The commercial success is a blessing, especially because the odds were against me: [Music] streaming is down 10%, stores are closed, people can’t go to concerts, but I didn’t care. I knew how important it was to my fans.”
Most importantly, After Hours showcased an evolution of the dark electro-infused R&B sound he’s been honing since 2011’s introductory mixtape, House of Balloons. While there’s no denying his influence on the music landscape of today, The Weeknd aired out that he believes he inspired one of the world’s most renowned artists.
“‘House of Balloons’ literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes. I heard ‘Climax,’ that  Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k, that’s a Weeknd song,’” he told Variety. “It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
It’s worth noting that Diplo, who co-produced the track with Max Martin, broke down to The Guardian how the hit single was inspired by the resurgence in house and EDM music. “The production actually started as a house thing with a chord progression that I wrote, but with some time in the studio alone I was making a sort of ‘wildfire’ beat out of it,” Diplo explained. “Usher came in here with a very clear idea that he wanted to work on a new pop sound.”
Read The Weeknd’s full profile in Variety here.
(Photo L-R: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for A24 and Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)