The title track and lead single from Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye's second album was produced by the Hip-Hop producer Silkky Johnson who has previously worked with A$AP Rocky. It finds the Toronto R&B crooner singing of his immense sexual appetite and the debilitating effects of doing too many drugs as well as the opportunity to travel since becoming a world-touring star.
"I went from staring at the same four walls for 21 years,
To seeing the whole world in just 12 months."
Until his breakthrough Tesfaye had barely left his home city. He told Complex magazine: "I'd never left Toronto. I'd driven to Montreal, but I'd never been on a plane before two or three years ago."
The Kiss Land album symbolizes a tour life that Tesfaye created in his head. He explained to Complex magazine: "Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it's a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It's a place I've never been to before that I'm very unfamiliar with."
"A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott," he added, "because they know how to capture fear. That's what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that's just honest fear. I don't know who I am right now and I'm doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I'm not familiar with. To me, it's the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I'm feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie."
The album title came from a conversation that The Weeknd overheard and the words stuck out despite his fears they might appear generic. He explained to Complex magazine: "Someone said, 'Kiss Land' and I thought, 'That's going to be the title of my album.' It sounds so ridiculous. When I put [the title] out everyone was like, 'What the hell? This is going to be corny. It's going to be all lovey-dovey.'"
The story behind Kiss Land's creation begins the moment Tesfaye traveled overseas for the first time in 2011. "The narrative takes place after my first flight," he explained to MTV News. It's very foreign, very Asian-inspired. When people ask me 'Why Japan?' I simply tell them it's the furthest I've ever been from home. It really is a different planet."
Kiss Land's un-pop sound didn't register with mainstream audiences. "Kiss Land wasn't about what people wanted to hear on the radio," Tesfaye admitted to Rolling Stone in 2015. "It was the state of mind I was in - introverted, like David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. You didn't know if you were hearing a chorus or a verse. It was just my thoughts."