Do you see yourself as a sex symbol?

No. But I'm working on it. This album has also come with a life change for me. It really has nothing to do with taking my shirt off and being on magazine covers. I never really enjoyed that brand of entertainment. I just never want that to become a staple of my career where it's like I have to have my shirt off. But I'll still wear my sweaters and my sweatpants.

But I want to be super in shape. For the last 3 weeks I've made some major changes in my life, I've been going really hard, getting ready for this tour. One of my close friends is training me. Just, diet.

 

It really has nothing to do with taking my shirt off and being on magazine covers. I never really enjoyed that brand of entertainment. I just never want that to become a staple of my career where it's like I have to have my shirt off. 

 

Cutting out Hennessy, cutting out champagne, cutting out wine, which was devastating. Only drinking vodka soda because it's like no calories. Just doing like chicken breasts and vegetables three times a day. Amino acids and shakes and shit.

It's actually something, once you get past the first week of pain of working out, and then you get over the hump of seeing people eat fries and spaghetti. You really have to experience waking up with all that clean stuff in your body. There is a certain brand of liquor that your body is used to, as opposed to mixing it up or switching it up, and you really start to realize how much it does for you.

Like I can go longer in the day, I can stay energetic. After this, I'm going to want to go do something where normally I'd be like ‘I’m gonna go upstairs’ just, sluggish. It was a personal thing, I just really want to get out there and kill these shows.

I made a huge judgment call to not go into arenas this year, like not headline an arena tour despite the fact that I have a deal with Live Nation and despite the fact that I have to fulfill that contract. I just feel like this might be the last chance to do the shows I want to do and see the people I want to see. My first show was in Carbondale, Ill. Southern Illinois University. That was my first show I ever did.

So I routed this tour based off of monumental moments for me. Like I want to go do Warehouse Live again in Houston because it was one of my craziest shows. SIU was my first show, VCU was my worst show. I was like super sick, it was the day before I got a live band. And they were supposed to show up and they didn’t show up, so it was just me and my DJ.

 

I've been going really hard, getting ready for this tour. One of my close friends is training me. Just, diet. Cutting out Hennessy, cutting out champagne, cutting out wine, which was devastating. Only drinking vodka soda because it's like no calories. Just doing like chicken breasts and vegetables three times a day. Amino acids and shakes.

 

They told me it was a small show, there were 8,000 people in the stadium. I was so nervous. This tour is really for me, all the colleges I went to on So Far Gone tour, I'm going to.

I'm going out with ASAP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. I just really want to, for myself and for the people, I want to be in shape, able to do an 1:45 minutes and be strong, and look strong up there. Because I feel stronger on this album, I feel like I’ve defined my character more.

And I just want to embody it on all levels. The way I dress, they way I look, the way I sound. I just want to give the people that moment because I feel like it’s my moment and we deserve to share it together.

So I'm working as hard as I can to cover every base, and physical conditioning is one of them and it’s just kind of my thing. Sex symbols to me are like David Hasselfhoff, like epic, I’d say like for our generation, like. I don't see myself like that.

I remembering hearing that when, at a show once, D’Angelo didn’t take his shirt off, people were like, “what the fuck?”

I can only imagine because when I'm at shows, girls are always yelling “Take your shirt off.” That’s what concerts are to young girls. Like I want to see this God-like man on stage and I want to see him half-clothed because I’m fucking 18, 17 years old and that’s what I think this is about. If you enable it, if you allow it to become that, it has nothing to do with music.

 

When I'm at shows, girls are always yelling “Take your shirt off.” That’s what concerts are to young girls. Like I want to see this God-like man on stage and I want to see him half-clothed because I’m fucking 18, 17 years old and that’s what I think this is about. If you enable it, if you allow it to become that, it has nothing to do with music.

 

My shows right now are all about the music. My fans may be on some wild heart-throb shit, but they leave there with a musical experience. They don't leave there empty-handed or like, saying “I got pictures of him with his shirt off.”

But I would like to do Men's Health. Or I would like to do something that shows the work that I've put in. but not every night. That's a crush thing. But then again maybe if I was stupid cut maybe I wouldn't say that. In eight weeks you might have to check back in with me. I might be walking around New York with my shirt off.

How did you first hear about The Weeknd?

Oliver was the first one that played it for me. I remember he called me out of my house, I came downstairs and we took a little drive. And he played me “What You Need” like a demo version, and played me “The Party” and “The Afterparty” the demo version. I was like, “Yeah man, this kid has a great voice and I’d love to see what he does.”

Abel was just a hard worker, he created this body of work that was undeniable. I think the first time I was really sold, like super convinced is I heard “Crew Love” [which is] actually on Take Care, and I was like, “Man, I need to do this with him for the album, this song is special.”

That was the moment where I was like this kid is our city, he is making a soundtrack to our city and that’s something to embrace, that’s not something to resist. And then we started realizing how many mutual friends we had and it was perfect.

And OVO/XO just came naturally like on some just talking back and forth shit, And now you can ask anyone in this city and they will know what that is.

It’s not on some goofy shit, it’s just on exactly what we were talking about, this whole union that we built. We built an alliance in the city. The city hasn’t really seen anything like that before.

 

OVO/XO just came naturally, like on some just talking back and forth shit, And now you can ask anyone in this city and they will know what that is. It’s not on some goofy shit, it’s just on exactly what we were talking about, this whole union that we built. We built an alliance in the city. The city hasn’t really seen anything like that before.

 

There have been alliances but not like, the cumulative success, the fact that The Weeknd is so successful, that I'm so successful, the fact like Hyghly and Lamar directed the videos, that Oliver is my manager, the fact that everyone is playing their part in this beautiful machine that is working so well.

At the end of the day, I don’t look at it like, they love Drake. They love my crew. They love everybody. These girls love C.J. more than they love me, trust me. My boys, their characters are just as interesting.

And then you’ve got The Weeknd and his young boys, who are a whole different brand of interesting. They just love what we have to offer as a whole, as opposed to just me being like, “This is me, this is all me.” Nah, they love my crew. And that's just what it’s all about.

Is it by design that The Weeknd is so elusive?

Again it's just a natural union. It just happened that way. I don’t know if I would have been as attracted to an over-eager kid that was threatening to be in every interview. I loved his demeanor, I loved what he stood for, which was like, “I've got this vision I want to put out but I don’t give a fuck about that other stuff.”

Now, he's slowly starting to discover the joys of doing live shows and being around fans. For a while, there were no pictures of him. He was really a kid. The reason why I think we connect so well is because he lets his music speak, that's what he wants to be judged on.

There were a lot people pissed about that canceled New York show.

Yeah. They will be alright though. They will get over it. There are going to be a lot of people pissed when I tell them they have to wait until Nov. 15 for my album too. [Laughs.]

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