What did you do on “Practice”?
That whole hook was me. That’s probably the only song I wrote for Take Care. The rest of it was just shit I was going to have for [House of Balloons]. He really wanted to incorporate my sound, which was inspired by his sound. It’s not like, “Oh, I had the ‘new sound.’” It was just easier for him to relate to me, because it was his sound with an edge. It was that Toronto sound. So yeah, you’re right. I feel like I could have been that for his album.
People think you guys aren’t cool with each other anymore.
No, that’s not true. Definitely not true. But it makes sense. The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.
You mean in terms of your label deal?
Everything. I told him from day one what my decision was going to be. I wasn’t going that route. I was going to go my own route. And he supported me.
I told Drake what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.
So when you read things about how you two are not cool…
—he’s like me when it comes to shit like that, too. He loves reading that stuff.
You both just brush it off?
Of course. I don’t like to spoon-feed people. I don’t like to be like, “You know what? I’m going to let the world know that we’re cool. We’re going to take a picture together. Everyone’s cool.” It’s all about the mystery, and people like it. Shit’s WWE, man. It’s wrestling, you know what I mean?
The other rumor is that you two are PartyNextDoor.
[Laughs.] No, no, no, that’s not true at all. I never met him.
Where do you see yourself in the world of R&B?
The only thing R&B about my shit is the style of singing. My inspiration is R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, and Prince, for the vocals anyway. My production and songwriting, and the environment around those vocals are not inspired by R&B at all.
I heard Portishead drums on “Belong to the World.”
Yeah, that was the inspiration behind that. I wrote a letter to the producers of Portishead and let them know this album is inspired by them.
The entire Kiss Land album?
Most of it. I find a sound and run with it. It varies from Stevie Nicks to Genesis and Phil Collins. The production is very cinematic for me, and R&B was never cinematic like that.
Do you have a greater understanding of love on this album?
I don’t know. Like I said, a lot of it’s subconscious.
On “Belong to the World,” it sounds like you may have had a serious relationship.
“Belong to the World” is about falling in love with the wrong person. There are some songs where I talk about the same person, but I like to make every song about someone else. Thursday is a conceptual album. Whatever that situation was, I spent the whole album focusing on that situation.
Have you gone through heartbreak before?
I think I did. I’m not sure. Some people think they go through situations and then it hits them like a fucking brick. I hope that I fell in love and I hope that my heart was broken. Because if I didn’t, then I don’t know what I’m about to go through in the next 20 years of my life.
That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear. I don’t know who I am right now and I’m doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I’m not familiar with. Kiss Land is like a horror movie.
Last night in the studio you said Kiss Land was a ridiculous title.
Yeah, because Kiss Land symbolizes the tour life, but it’s a world that I created in my head. Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it’s a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It’s a place I’ve never been to before that I’m very unfamiliar with.
A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear. I don’t know who I am right now and I’m doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I’m not familiar with. To me, it’s the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I’m feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie.
Holy shit. That’s the last thing you’d expect from the title.
I didn’t want to call it Dark World or something so generic. The title came from a conversation that I overheard and those words stuck out. Someone said, “Kiss Land” and I thought, “That’s going to be the title of my album.” It sounds so ridiculous. When I put [the title] out everyone was like, “What the hell? This is going to be corny. It’s going to be all lovey-dovey.”
People will say, “It’s a wrap; we lost him.”
But that’s what I want. I want them to be underwhelmed. I’m all about surprises. If you watch a horror movie and it’s called Kiss Land, it’s probably going to be the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen in your life.
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