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"Oliver was the one vouching for me."The then-anonymous Tesfaye declined all interviews.
In part, it was because he worried he wasn't well-spoken enough: A high school dropout, he used to do crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary, and to this day, he often wishes he were more articulate.
"I'm still digesting it, to be honest with you," Tesfaye says of his success.
"But the screams keep getting louder, dude."Tesfaye comes over to say hi, dressed in black Levi's and a Roots hoodie, his tsunami of hair piled high atop his head.
"Sorry, I'm sick," he says, as his handshake becomes a fist bump in midair. ")This scene would not have seemed possible in 2011, when the Weeknd appeared with a trio of cult-favorite mixtapes that established both his sonic template — drug-drenched, indie-rock-sampling, sex-dungeon R&B — and his mysterious, brooding persona.
Since starting this promo tour a week ago, he's been to Las Vegas, Paris, Berlin and now London. A press-shy Ethiopian kid from Toronto who has given only a handful of interviews, he has cultivated a near-mythical image as a bed-hopping, pill-popping, chart-topping cipher.
I was looking at artists like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, or Afropunk. And then it's like, ' And now, a few words about the hair: The Weeknd's hair is by far his most recognizable trait.Tesfaye is just the 12th artist in history to score back-to-back Number Ones, a group that includes Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Taylor Swift.His new album, has sold more than half a million copies in a couple of months, and he's preparing to launch a national arena tour in November.After rehearsal, Tesfaye is in the greenroom with his two managers, 31-year-old Amir "Cash" Esmailian and 35-year-old Tony Sal.
Cash is a first-generation Iranian-Canadian sweetheart who occasionally yells things into the phone like, "You may as well bend me over a table, bro!
The cold caught up with him yesterday, during a signing for 500 squealing fans at the Oxford Circus HMV. "We live in an era when everything is so excessive, I think it's refreshing for everybody to be like, ' Who the fuck is this guy? "I think that's why my career is going to be so long: Because I haven't given people everything."Spend just five minutes with him, though, and he reveals himself: sweet, soft-spoken, surprisingly earnest.