Published Mar 23, 2012R&B singer Abel Tesfaye has become synonymous with the Weeknd, the Toronto-based noir & B project he fronts. According to producer Zodiac, however, the act's icy atmosphere and seedy themes weren't actually Tesfaye's ideas, but his own.
Speaking with Vice, Zodiac (aka Jeremy Rose) -- who produced the House of Balloons tracks "What You Need," "Loft Music" and the first half of "The Party & the After Party," plus the outtake "The Morning (Original Version)" -- claimed that he recruited Tesfaye as the frontman for his new project, but Tesfaye soon wrestled control away from the studio whiz.
"I had this idea for a dark R&B project," Rose said. "When I met [Tesfaye] I heard some of the stuff that he was doing. It was called the Noise. Remember that? It came out after he broke. It was this group, with him and another producer and it was called the Noise. They were a straight kind of R&B, just really light and kind of candlelight -- 'I wanna see you in your birthday suit' -- and I was just like, 'Aw, fuck that shit. No man, let's talk about, fuckin' and getting too high and trying to fuck bitches and it not working out. Let's get really grimy about it.'"
Rose even claims to have come up with the name the Weeknd, which Tesfaye now uses for his own (although it was the singer who apparently dropped the "e'"). They recorded a full album together, some of it featuring Tesfaye rapping, but "it wasn't really going in a good direction so we scrapped most of it," Rose said. The producer acknowledged that Tesfaye had most of the lyrics already written, so the conceptual work wasn't entirely his own.
Eventually, Rose recalled, "He wanted me to produce for him without any of my input. And I was like, 'Well then, what's the point of being a group?' and he was like, 'You can just be my producer,' and I said, 'Are you going to pay me?' Then [I realized he was] not going to pay me. That's why I backed out. I was like, 'You can have those three or four tracks, I'll give you the stems, just take 'em, but I don't want to work with you anymore.' I was really congenial about it, but I told him, 'Just make sure that you give me credit,' and that's where things went sour."
Tesfaye has been out of touch ever since, and many fans don't know of Zodiac's involvement. Rose complained that he hasn't seen a cent for his work -- or any credit -- but we're guessing that has something to do with the fact that House of Balloons is a free online mixtape.
Read the full interview here. Following Vice's interview with Rose, the publication attempted to contact Tesfaye, but were simply told the singer had "no comment."
Regardless of whether Zodiac helped to create the project, there's no question Tesfaye has done very well for himself since their creative relationship imploded.