The Weeknd recently returned to the spotlight with one of his most personal projects to date, the surprise release EP, My Dear Melancholy. The short album quickly shot up the charts to become No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot 200 without a traditional rollout based on the Toronto singer’s return to moody introspection and heartbroken reminisces, especially with mass fan speculation about certain lyrics that seemed to reference his high-profile relationship with fellow pop star Selena Gomez. Now, the normally mysterious singer gives a peek behind the curtain of his creative process with a short film titled “He Was Never There.”
The title is taken from one of the six songs on the EP, “I Was Never There,” and the film is directed by Joachim Johnson, edited by Dylan Coughran, and produced by Rebecca Hearn. Shot on grainy, lo-fi film stock, the short documentary follows The Weeknd into a makeshift studio for the recording of the song it’s named after, intercut with audio clips of conversations from the singer’s collaborators detailing some of the sonic decisions that went into the final product and discussing his creative appeal.
Although My Dear Melancholy did eventually receive a pair of promotional music videos for the songs “Try Me” and “Call Out My Name,” they were released in an unusual way as well, both dropped directly to Spotify and shot in a phone-friendly, vertical orientation. It seems that even when he goes backward, The Weeknd can’t help but to push boundaries in a constant effort to innovate.