The Weeknd: 5 Things you didn't know about the Canadian R&B crooner

Aug 26, 2015 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Image: WENN

Toronto’s Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, is a mysterious figure in the music industry today: He’s the mastermind behind some of the biggest songs of the year, but he's barely in the news. Just who is this superstar-in-the-making?

It's been a good year for the 25-year-old singer, songwriter and producer known as The Weeknd — he’s gained mass appeal with two high-profile singles, summer hit "Can’t Feel My Face" and "Earned It," which was the breakout feature song from Fifty Shades of Grey. He's also collaborated with superstars like Sia, Ariana Grande, Rick Ross and Drake, had a couple of big festival appearances, a triumphant MMVA performance and a headlining tour planned for the fall.

More: Music review: Sia feat. The Weeknd and Diplo 'Elastic Heart'

And his new album featuring new collaborations with established mega-stars like Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, Beauty Behind the Madness, just dropped on Aug. 28, so everybody's talking about him right now. So what do we know about him?

1. He’s Canadian

Born and raised in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, The Weeknd spent his formative years working on his craft right here in Canada. He even claims to have not left his hometown (or been on a plane) until he was 21 years old.

2. The Weeknd wasn’t always known by this name

Born Abel Tesfaye, the singer got his stage name when he left home one weekend at 17: "[I] left one weekend and never came back home… I hated my name at the time, though, so I tried it as a stage name. It sounded cool. I took out the 'e' because there was already a Canadian band named The Weekend (copyright issues)."

More:FKA Twigs drops surprise EP video and proves she's as eccentric as ever

3. His first language is actually Amharic

A Canadian of Ethiopian descent, The Weeknd’s first language is Amharic, a Semitic language common in Ethiopia, and he still speaks it fluently. “Had no dad and mom was working 24/7 so my grandma raised me until I was like 5. No English,” The Weeknd explained in a Reddit AMA.

4. He hates interviews

An integral part of The Weeknd’s notorious mystique comes from how he interacts with the press. The short story? He doesn’t do it often. The Weeknd is known for his reluctance to participate in traditional interviews, mostly preferring to interact with the press via outlets he can control, like his Twitter or Reddit.

5. He’s modelled for Kanye

In addition to collaborating with Kanye West in the studio, The Weeknd recently veered from his camera-shy tendencies to model the Yeezy collection for GQ.


More: Kanye West's top 10 best music videos