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The Weeknd Had No Money for ‘House of Balloons’ Artwork. His Team Hacked Local College Computer System

“We had no money at the time to download Adobe or Final Cut Pro.”

Talk about starting from the bottom. 

In a new interview with Forbes, The Weeknd, and his creative director at XO, La Mar Taylor, discuss some of the stunts the team had to pull to get The Weeknd’s now seminal House of Balloons mixtape to listeners.

As reported by Tanya Klich, “[Taylor] admits, he snuck into the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD) in 2011 to access the school’s Adobe software.” 

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A sweet and ragtag come-up story, Taylor initially recounted the break-ins during a 2017 interview with Complex. “We’d come down from Scarborough to [Toronto arts college] OCAD and hack into their computer system so we could use all the tools on there,” Taylor said. “We didn’t have access to anything else. We had no money at the time to download Adobe or Final Cut Pro. In my head, I’m just thinking, how many more creatives in the city are in the same position?”

Certainly, The Weeknd and Taylor’s by-any-means-necessary attitude contributed to their immense success, but after struggling to the top, the pair is looking to pay it forward. Per the Forbes interview, the duo will soon launch Hxouse, a Toronto-based incubator for young creatives. Bringing things full-circle, OCAD is now an academic partner for Hxouse.

While breaking into schools and bootlegging copies of photo-editing software make for great stories, passing along opportunities and creating resources for hungry creatives is all the better.



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