The Weeknd is having a great week. In addition to selling 367k copies of his new album, Starboy, every track on the album is currently charting on the Billboard Hot 100. According to the 26-year-old superstar, however, the album would have never been finished without the addition of some much-needed assistance.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, published Saturday (December 3), the artist born Abel Tesfaye admits that drugs played a heavy role in the creation of his third major label full-length. “Even on this new album. You have writer’s block. And sometimes you’re like, I can’t do this sober,” explained The Weeknd.
Given the success of his drug-fueled hit single "Can't Feel My Face" off his previous album Beauty Behind The Madness, and his place in the rise of what Nathan S. once described as "overdose R&B," The Weeknd's admission is far from surprising. It is, however, somewhat concerning if a byproduct of his drinking or drug abuse is memory loss.
Later in the feature, as their conversation was coming to a close, author Tom Lamont described a candid back-and-forth which took place after he asked The Weeknd about finding inspiration for his material. After explaining that the room the two were sitting in is "a story" and could be "a song," The Weeknd revealed that he doesn't write down song ideas and, as a result, relies only on his memories.
At first, this technique might seem silly, but it's actually the perfect approach for an artist. If the idea is to create art that is unforgettable for the consumer, the art must originate as unforgettable for the artist—unless, of course, the artist forgot their own blueprint because they had too much to drink.
The Weeknd: If it doesn’t stay in the mental archive, it wasn’t meant to be.
Lamont: Even though tonight you might go out and get plastered?
The Weeknd: Yeah.
Lamont: You’ll have lost so much music this way.
The Weeknd: I’ve lost so much music.
Obviously, The Weeknd is not the first artist to record material under the influence or use alcohol as a helping hand for writer's block. But given the dramatic rise in overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, coupled with the fact alcohol is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States, forgetting the melody or lyrics to a potential hit song should be the least of his worries.
Given the amount of inherent stress that comes with being a world-renowned pop star, staying healthy should ultimately be his top priority.