Abel Tesfaye is killing The Weeknd. After 14 years as ‘The Weeknd’, Abel decided to close this chapter. Over the years we have seen The Weeknd transform in many different ways, however, his music style never did. Whenever you hear a song by The Weeknd, you instantly know who it is. From “House of Balloons” to “Trilogy” to “Dawn FM”, The Weeknd has given us countless albums over the years, with anecdotes of his nightlife, meaningless sex, mental health, and addiction. Abel is officially retiring from The Weeknd… Well, eventually. But what’s sparked this epiphany?
On the set of the HBO show The Idol, Abel experienced an identity crisis while playing Tedros, the protagonist’s supportive husband. In an interview with W Magazine, Abel described his struggle with switching back and forth between Tedros and The Weeknd: “I had to take off the Weeknd outfit, put on Tedros’s wig, shoot with Jocelyn, then go back to being The Weeknd. It was tough to go from one head to another. Then, after the concert, I lost my voice. No voice came out at all. That’s never happened before. My theory is that I forgot how to sing because I was playing Tedros, a character who doesn’t know how to sing. I may be looking too deeply into this, but it was terrifying. As The Weeknd, I’ve never skipped a concert. I’ve performed with the flu. I’ll die on that stage. But there was something very complicated going on with my mind at that moment.”
With not one but two identities, Abel lost a sense of self. His alter egos distanced him from who he truly is, prompting him to return to Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the original Weeknd. “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,” he told Mark Green at GQ. As a kid, Abel sang all the time knowing it was what he wanted to do in life, whether he was good at it or not. Though The Weeknd’s art itself is somewhat dark, Abel isn’t. The Canadian R&B singer at first simply wanted his art to be appreciated in an unbiased manner. He also did not appreciate his given name the way he does now: “I like that I have that as an option to escape Abel a little bit. I definitely loved it more back then than I do now. I love my name now, though: Abel.”
I guess congratulations are in order. The new “craze” of celebrity actualization has sparked many to return to the old ways of using your original name instead of a stage name. Separating the private self from the public self while becoming famous has caused several icons to develop an inevitable crisis. Just look at Britney or Doja. Not to say that is definitely what they’re experiencing but it sure isn’t that far-fetched. Abel still promises to continue doing music as himself and potentially occasionally still as The Weeknd, even though he claims to be killing him. What’s on the horizon for Abel? Stay tuned.
*Header image: The Weeknd (via YouTube)