An “aggressive but sexy” new sound from Abel Tesfaye.
“The production feels aggressive but still sexy. The Smiths, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Prince, and DeBarge play roles,” the singer explained. “We wrote it all in Los Angeles. I think it’ll be the best-sounding album I’ve ever done. It’s hard to label the sound because, when I first came out, nobody would label it R&B. I just want to keep pushing the envelope without it feeling forced.”
As on previous albums The Beauty Behind The Madness and Kiss Land, there’s a cinematic influence too, Tesfaye added. “David Lynch, alongside David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese play a huge part in my brand, my looks, my sound, and my aesthetic,” he said. “At one point, my hair looked like Eraserhead.”
Some had wondered, following the star’s decision to pull out of a scheduled Saturday Night Live performance in protest at Donald Trump’s presence on the show earlier this year, if there may be a political element to this new album. Tesfaye claims in the interview that will not be the case, explaining a bit about the episode and his protest. “I promised myself that I would never tweet or talk about politics and focus on the music, but I was just so bewildered that we lost more of our people to these senseless police shootings,” Tesfaye says.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that there are people who can’t or won’t see what Black Lives Matter is trying to accomplish. I wish I could make music about politics. I feel like it’s such an art and a talent that I admire tremendously, but when I step into the studio I step out of the real world, and it’s therapeutic. It’s an escape, but recently it’s been very hard to ignore, and it’s also been very distracting. Maybe you’ll hear it in my voice, but it is not my forté.”
Read the full interview here.