Abel Tesfaye Wants to "Kill The Weeknd" — Name Change, Explained

Chris Barilla - Author

May 17 2023, Updated 12:02 p.m. ET

The Weeknd at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards on May 23, 2021
Source: Getty Images

It goes without saying that The Weeknd is one of the most successful crossover artists of a generation. His impressive discography spans pop, rap, R&B, electronic music, and more. Now, the singer, born Abel Tesfaye, is looking to move into yet another new era of his career. Only this time, he's looking to shed the name The Weeknd for good.

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Indeed, it appears as though the artist will no longer be releasing music as The Weeknd, but why? What will his new name be? Keep reading for all of the details.

The Weeknd at the Music In Action Awards Ceremony on Sept. 23, 2021
Source: Getty Images
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Why did The Weeknd change his name?

In a May 2023 interview for W Magazine alongside his The Idol co-star Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd explained that he's looking to "kill The Weeknd" and reinvent himself as Abel Tesfaye.

"I’m going through a cathartic path right now," he told the publication. "It’s getting to a place and a time where I’m getting ready to close the Weeknd chapter. I’ll still make music, maybe as Abel, maybe as The Weeknd. But I still want to kill The Weeknd. And I will. Eventually. I’m definitely trying to shed that skin and be reborn."

The star also noted that his next album will likely be his "last hurrah as The Weeknd."

"This is something that I have to do," he added. "As The Weeknd, I’ve said everything I can say."

Neither The Weeknd nor his team have elaborated any further on the details of his name change.

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Fans react to the news that The Weeknd wants to go by 'Abel Tesfaye.'

Naturally, an artist with as much star power as The Weeknd changing his name is bound to shake up the music conversation. In the time since it was announced that The Weeknd would eventually be no more, users online shared their own takes on the situation and what it means to them.

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Where did the name The Weeknd originally come from?

Per a Reddit AMA from 2014, The Weeknd created his stage name because he hated his birth name and thought The Weeknd would be a cool alternate. He originally wanted to be known as The Weekend but took out the "e" because the Canadian band The Weekend already exists. The Weeknd revealed all those years ago that, "I hated my name at the time though so I tried it as a stage name. It sounded cool. I took out the 'e' because there was already a Canadian band named the weekend (copyright issues)."

The Weeknd also discussed his origins as an artist, sharing that he left home after dropping out of high school in order to pursue his music career. He said, "I left home when I was about 17 dropped out of high school and convinced Lamar to do the same lol. We grabbed our mattresses from our parents threw it in our friends s--tty van and left one weekend and never came back home. It was gonna be the title of HOB ['House of Balloons']."

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The Weeknd at the U.N. World Food Programme on Oct. 7, 2021
Source: Getty Images

This Reddit AMA is probably one of the most personal moments The Weeknd has ever had with fans. However, he did also give a 2020 interview with Variety where he touched on his evolution a bit more. "You could hear the vulnerability in the music before, but there was such a shield, such a f--k you to the world, and now I’m very comfortable with letting the world know that I can be that way," he said of how things have changed for him sonically over time.

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The Weeknd also discussed his upbringing during that chat. "Ethiopian — Amharic — was the first language I learned to form sentences in because my grandma, who raised me with my mom, would not speak English. Because of television and being in Canada, I learned English too, but I went to French-immersion school, where you’d get in trouble for speaking English, and I couldn’t speak it to my grandma, so it’s almost like English is my third language, even though now it’s my first," he shared.

The singer even dove deeply into what led him to drop out of school and pursue music. He said, "It was tough growing up where I was from. I got into a lot of trouble, got kicked out of school, moved to different schools and finally dropped out. I really thought film was gonna be my way out, but I couldn’t really make a movie to feel better, you know? Music was very direct therapy; it was immediate and people liked it. It definitely saved my life."

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