The Weeknd Rejected All Of Max Martin’s Songs Before They Wrote “Can’t Feel My Face”

Taylor & The Weeknd
Watch Taylor Swift bring out The Weeknd for a duet version of "Can't Feel My Face."

Jon Caramanica profiled the once-reclusive The Weeknd for the New York Times, an unlikely fate for a guy who once released music anonymously online, but a completely natural fate for a singer who has collaborated with Ariana Grande and performed with Taylor Swift.

And while the story fills in some of the details of Abel Tesfaye‘s foggy backstory, some of the most interesting revelations deal with his new collaborations with Max Martin. It all started when he linked up with the Swedish super-producer on Grande’s “Love Me Harder,” which led Tesfaye to tell his label to get him more work with Martin.

“If I’m gonna be the biggest in the world,’’ he told Republic’s urban A&R head, “I need a handful of songs like that.”

But like nearly everything regarding The Weeknd’s path, Tesfaye would only work with Martin on his own terms. According to the piece, Martin’s team “typically solicits little creative input from the talent,” but Tesfaye right away rewrote the “Love Me Harder” verse given to him, and Martin liked the rewrite. And when Tesfaye hunkered down with Martin last fall, he swiftly rejected all of the material Martin’s crew had prewritten for him. So they started working on completely new songs together, and the first result was “In The Night,” which will appear on Beauty Behind The Madness. Like the album’s lead single “Can’t Feel My Face,” it’s said to tap into Tesfaye’s Michael Jackson fixation.

While the feature doesn’t specify whether more Martin-assisted tracks will appear on the album, which is out August 28, it certainly implies Martin had more than a two-song role and was one of the guiding forces of the project.

Read the full interview for much more insight into The Weeknd’s rise and current mega-star aspirations.