The Weeknd Reflects on the "Darkest Time" of His Entire Life in Rare Interview

The Weeknd recalled the demons of his past in his first sit-down interview in nearly five years.

By Samantha Schnurr Apr 08, 2020 6:00 PMTags
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The Weeknd is baring the demons of his past.

In an interview with Variety, his first sit-down in nearly five years, the Grammy-winning star, who has just released his fourth studio album, After Hours, seems ready to confront the darker parts of his life thus far. With his deeply personal latest work—his first studio album in four years—The Weeknd has brought fans along as he revisited his demons musically, including what he called the "darkest time of my entire life" via the track "Faith."

"So, this is about the darkest time of my entire life, around 2013, 2014," he told Variety, referencing the time around his debut studio album and beginnings of his stardom. "I was getting really, really tossed up and going through a lot of personal stuff. I got arrested in Vegas," he told the magazine, referring to his 2015 arrest for allegedly punching a police officer. He pleaded no contest  

"It was a real rock-star era, which I'm not really proud of," the performer described. "You hear sirens at the end the song—that's me in the back of the cop car, that moment."

The star continued, "I always wanted to make that song but I never did, and this album felt like the perfect time, because [the character] is looking for an escape after a heartbreak or whatever. I wanted to be that guy again—the 'Heartless' guy who hates God and is losing his --ing religion and hating what he looks like in the mirror so he keeps getting high. That's who this song is."

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As for revisiting his dark times, the new 30-year-old told the magazine, "I didn't want to...but sometimes you try to run away from who you are, and you always get back to that place. By the end of this album, you realize, 'I'm not that person.' I was, but I'm growing and wiser, and I'm gonna have children someday, and I'm going to tell them they don't have to be that person."

And, while he's no amateur in the industry, his new decade of life is giving him a fresh outlook. "I think people say your 30s are your best years because you're becoming the person you're supposed to be. And this is the beginning of not just a new chapter but my second decade [as a performer]. I feel like my career is just starting." 

Pari Dukovic for Variety

After all, it's music that's always had a profound impact on the artist, including in his younger years riddled with drug abuse and some homelessness. 

"It was tough growing up where I was from," he told Variety. "I got into a lot of trouble, got kicked out of school, moved to different schools and finally dropped out. I really thought film was gonna be my way out, but I couldn't really make a movie to feel better, you know? Music was very direct therapy; it was immediate and people liked it. It definitely saved my life."