Zayn Malik, who quit the globe-straddling boy band One Direction in March, has spoken for the first time about his reasons for leaving, as well as what fans can expect from his coming solo album.
In an interview – his first since he signed to RCA Records in July – with the Fader, Malik bemoans the lack of creative input he was allowed in the band, who were put together on The X Factor in 2010.
“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band,” he says. “If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as fuck, so they could use that version.
“Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us. There was just a general conception that the management already had what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling.”
Warming to his theme, Malik also outlines how, at the age of 22, he’d fallen out of love with the music the band were making, saying he was looking to make some “cool shit”.
“That’s not music that I would listen to,” he says of the band’s discography. “Would you listen to One Direction, sat at a party with your girl? I wouldn’t. To me, that’s not an insult, that’s me as a 22-year-old man. As much as I was in that band, and I loved everything that we did, that’s not music that I would listen to.
“I don’t think that’s an offensive statement to make. That’s just not who I am. If I was sat at a dinner date with a girl, I would play some cool shit, you know what I mean? I want to make music that I think is cool shit. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.”
The “cool shit” in question – apparently a mixture of “mid-range R&B” and UK garage, and due out early next year – has been worked on with the Frank Ocean producer Malay, with some of it recorded in a tent in Los Angeles.
Elsewhere in the lengthy interview, Malik goes into some detail about the day he decided to leave the band: “I was always thinking it. I just didn’t know when I was going to do it. Then by the time I decided to go, it just felt right on that day. I woke up on that morning, if I’m being completely honest with you, and was like, ‘I need to go home. I just need to be me now, because I’ve had enough.’ I was with my little cousin at the time – we were sat in the hotel room – and I was just, ‘Should I go home?’ And he was like: ‘If you want to go home, let’s go home.’ So we left.”