The Weeknd 'one of the most gentle souls': composer Stephan Moccio

Toronto R&B star the Weeknd is one of the most enigmatic figures in music today, shying away from media interviews and working with a select group of collaborators who rarely let outsiders in.

See Full Article

But Canadian songwriter/producer/composer Stephan Moccio was able to grow close to him and his crew while they made the Grammy Award-nominated hit album "Beauty Behind The Madness."

He says the singer, born Abel Tesfaye, is driven, kind and comes "alive, if you will, in the studio."

"He's one of the most gentle souls that I know and the nicest guys that I know," says Moccio.

"He's well aware of his brand and who he is and what he does, he's very sure-footed, and that's one of my favourite things about him.

"We're twin brothers in the sense that he has a very strong vision of what he's after and what he wants to do, and when he sets forth to do it, nothing sways him. But working with him, he gives all of himself in the creative environment."

Moccio, who has a slew of hit songwriting credits and acclaimed solo work, is named in three Grammy nominations for working with the Weeknd. He's up for album of the year, best R&B song for "Earned It" from the "Fifty Shades Of Grey" soundtrack, and best song written for visual media for the same track.

The "Earned It" nominations are shared with the Weeknd as well as fellow Canadians Ahmad Balshe (a.k.a. Belly) and Jason (DaHeala) Quenneville, while the album of the year nod has a slew of co-nominees. The Weeknd has seven Grammy nominations in total.

Moccio, who grew up in Niagara Falls, Ont., says he co-produced and co-wrote about a third of "Beauty Behind The Madness." He was drawn to the edginess in the Weeknd's writing as well as his sound and beats. The Weeknd, meanwhile, was drawn to Moccio's classical music sophistication and the cinematic sound that he brings to songs.

The Los Angeles-based Moccio spent eight months working on the album and says making it "was really everything that you can dream of."

"When we started hearing the music and the songs that we were creating, we knew one thing -- we knew we were doing something honest and something great and that people are going to react to it," he says.

"So here it is, now sitting with a nomination for album of the year. Every artist would dream of having a Grammy nomination for album of the year."

Moccio says he and the Weeknd also bonded in the studio, sharing personal stories. They now hang out together with the rest of the crew at various social and professional events.

Moccio feels he now has "collaborators for life."

"They have such a family in how they deal with their affairs and they're very loyal people, Abel's team and his group of collaborators and writers," he says.

"It's an honour for me to have, I guess cracked the code, if you will, to have been accepted into that club, because they don't let a lot of people in, and rightfully so."


Latest Entertainment News

  • Cuphead's composer needed to be talked into the project. Now he's up for a Juno for its big band music

    Entertainment CBC News
    When orchestral percussionist Kristofer Maddigan began his years-long journey composing the soundtrack for a video game his friends were creating, he mostly kept the passion project to himself. As a genre, video game music doesn't get a lot of respect. Source
  • Group seeks probe of prosecutor's office over Weinstein case

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Time's Up, an initiative started by a powerhouse of Hollywood industry women to fight systemic sexual harassment, called Monday for New York's governor to investigate the Manhattan district attorney's office over a decision in 2015 not to prosecute a sex abuse case against Harvey Weinstein. Source
  • Woman says Steven Seagal sexually assaulted her at audition

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A woman on Monday said she was a 17-year-old model and aspiring actress when Steven Seagal sexually assaulted her at a supposed casting session at a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2002. Source
  • 'Sex and the City' star Cynthia Nixon running for NY governor

    Entertainment CTV News
    ALBANY, N.Y. -- Former "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon said on Twitter Monday that she'll challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York's Democratic primary in September. Her announcement sets up a race pitting an openly gay liberal activist against a two-term incumbent with a $30 million war chest and possible presidential ambitions. Source
  • Fifth Harmony going on 'hiatus,' members to go solo

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Fifth Harmony is going on "hiatus." The girl group announced Monday on Twitter that Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui will pursue "solo endeavours." The group says the break will allow them "to gain new experiences, strengths and perspectives that we can bring back to our Fifth Harmony family. Source
  • 'Too close of a reflection:' Handmaid's Tale season 2 embodies #MeToo

    Entertainment CBC News
    The first season of The Handmaid's Tale was a startling reflection of America's political climate and swept both the Emmys and Golden Globe Awards. Season two will once again hold a mirror up to today's society; this time by portraying both the support of and eventual reproach against women using their voices. Source
  • YouTubers KSI, Logan Paul agree to box in U.K., U.S.

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul are taking their acts into the boxing ring. They've agreed to a two-fight deal, with the first bout in the Manchester, England, on August 25th and a rematch in the United States. Source
  • Gordon Pinsent explores depression with short film 'Martin's Hagge'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Growing up in Grand Falls, N.L., actor Gordon Pinsent never heard the word "depression." While those around him talked about a dreamlike, folklore entity that "came into your being and stopped you from succeeding in life," they referred to it as "the Hagge," says the award-winning stage and screen star. Source
  • Jim Carrey criticized for portrait believed to be White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Entertainment CBC News
    Jim Carrey is being criticized on social media for a portrait he painted that is believed to be White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The actor and comedian on Saturday tweeted the painting with the caption: "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Source
  • Bill Murray takes nap at SXSW premiere of 'Isle of Dogs'

    Entertainment CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - Bill Murray took a catnap at the premiere of the film "Isle of Dogs." Murray voices the canine Boss in Wes Anderson's movie, which was shown Saturday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Source