"BUT LOOK," SAYS THE WEEKND, "WE'RE PLAYING WITH GENRES WITH THIS SHOW"
Variety's Jem Aswad asks The Weeknd (a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye) about the current HBO series The Idol, of which Tesfaye and Sam Levinson are co-creators, along with Reza Fahim. Levinson has directed each of the three episodes that have been released so far. Here's a portion from the Variety article:
Have you been discouraged at all by the negative reaction “The Idol” has received from some quarters? Or was that something you expected?
No, no, that very much expected.
I keep waiting for it to shift, like “Dressed to Kill,” the Brian De Palma film (who also directed “Scarface” and “Carrie”), which is very slow in the first half and then suddenly becomes fast-paced and exciting.
Brian De Palma is a huge inspiration for all this, and of course [Paul] Verhoeven [“Basic Instinct,” “Total Recall,” “RoboCop”]. But look, we’re playing with genres with this show, we’re doing exactly what we wanted to do. And none of this is a surprise. I’m excited for everyone to watch the rest of the show.
Here’s a related question: Over the past few years you keep doing all these things to make yourself ugly, between the busted nose and the blood in your mouth for the “After Hours” look and the bloated face in the later phases of it —
And the old man face! [for the “Dawn FM” cover].
And the creepy mask at the beginning of the concerts —
Yes, that’s like the Phantom [of the Opera], gladiator inspired, of course, and Dr. Doom and then [the late, masked rapper-producer] MF Doom.
… and Tedros’ rat tail. What is it in you that makes you want to make yourself ugly?
This is just make-believe. It’s make-believe!
I guess you did the sexed-up and debauched image before? Not being really a sex symbol but —
I don’t think I’ve ever been a sex symbol.
You don’t think so?
No, definitely not. (Laughing)
OK fine. Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to say?
No, I’m just enjoying this tour and I’m excited to challenge myself and see how we can how we can change the game with the concert films.
“Films”? Are there plans to document the next two phases of the tour?
(Long pause) We’re shooting the inception of something now, which… which I feel like I haven’t been able to do before. So whatever we’re doing now, we’re capturing the genesis of it. So it’ll be an interesting documentary. Is that too vague?
Not for you!
Friday, March 20, 2020'DRESSED TO KILL' - THE WEEKND'S CURRENT OBSESSION
ALSO, 'TROUBLE EVERY DAY', 'THE COLOR OF MONEY', 'DER FAN'
CR Men's Tiana Reid posted a story today about The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye), which mentions a few films the pop star is currently obsessed with:In 2019, Tesfaye went back to his early days, playing the Trilogy-era version of himself in the Safdie brothers’ film Uncut Gems. “I’ve been following the Safdies for years,” he says, a committed cinephile whose current obsessions include Claire Denis’ carnal thriller Trouble Every Day (2001), Brian De Palma’s neo-noir slasher Dressed to Kill (1980), Eckhart Schmidt’s West German, ’80s horror flick Der Fan, and Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money (1986).
On the big screen, he plays it douchey, “a kind of almost satirical version of myself,” he says. His fictitious double refuses to sing unless he’s in black light. He performs “The Morning” and does lines with a white girl (Julia Fox) who comments on his erection. “He’s going to be major—even though he’s from Canada,” Julia says earlier in the film. The line is played for laughs.
That “even though” is a bigger deal than it seems. Tesfaye was born to Ethiopian immigrant parents and raised in Scarborough, a region east of downtown Toronto, before he dropped out of high school, moving out to Parkdale in Toronto’s west side. For many of the young, black, brown, and poor people in Canada’s most-populous city, Toronto lacks industry connections of all kinds, affordable housing, and creative infrastructures, especially when compared to cities in the United States. In response to his upbringing, along with La Mar Taylor, Ahmed Ismail, and Joachim Johnson, the Weeknd now runs the nonprofit HXOUSE, a “Toronto-based, globally focused think-center” that works with young artists of many disciplines. Global capital obviously floods Toronto through real estate, technology, and development, but in an exorbitantly expensive rental housing market, the lofts of “Lost Music” are unaffordable. A condo company in Tesfaye’s old neighborhood of Parkdale, a 14-story new development, is eerily called XO Condos. Five-hundred-square-foot boxes, currently unbuilt, are being sold for upwards of $600,000 dollars. XO is, of course, also the name of the Weeknd’s record label, which includes Canadian hip hop acts Nav, Belly, and 88Glam.
Today, ostensibly, he’s made it. "I feel confident with where I’m taking this [new] record,” he reveals. “There’s also a very committed vision and character being portrayed and I get to explore a different side of me that my fans have never seen.” He says that the first drop, the anti-romance song called “Heartless,” follows where My Dear Melancholy left off. “It was the first song I wrote after that album, so it felt fitting for me to put it out,” he says. “I play a character in the video who becomes compromised and then overcompensates with all the sins that Vegas provides. It’s a great introduction to the next chapter of my life.” In the music video for “Heartless,” set in Las Vegas, this new character, with his Lionel Richie mustache, Herbie Hancock glasses, and a slappy grin, was in fact inspired by Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1973 film Poor Devil. In one scene, he licks a frog. It’s an all-knowing corniness that can be a bit of a one-note gimmick, its arc to be determined by the forthcoming album.
In the final scene of the video for “Blinding Lights,” which premiered in January, this new jittery nouveau-riche character stares into the camera but also beyond it, blood between his teeth. The look is a mix of Joker and Béatrice Dalle in that aforementioned Claire Denis film he loves so much, Trouble Every Day. After a journey through a hall of mirrors, a good high, a good ass-whooping, it’s hard to tell whether he’s laughing or crying. There’s something funny and something tragic in that ambivalence. This sense that we play characters both louche and garish feels like where we are at the turn of this decade, after years when it seemed no one had a self.