10 Things We Learned From Zayn Malik’s Fader Interview
If you were ever under the impression that Zayn Malik was content with the music he was making with One Direction, you weren't paying attention. But it's doubtful that even the most in-tune fans could've picked up on just how miserable he was while singing the band's songs to sold out venues over the past five years.
It's all good now though, says Zayn, because he finally has the opportunity to unleash his creativity (which he says was massively stifled during his 1D days) unto the world. In his first solo cover story, Zayn spoke with FADER about his upcoming album, his decision to leave the world's most popular band and how he really ended things with ex-fiancee Perrie Edwards.
He had zero creative input with One Direction.
"There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band. 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 f---ck, 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 of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling. I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people. As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about.”
Larry isn't real (and neither are any of the other fan-appointed ships).
“There’s no secret relationships going on with any of the band members. It’s not funny, and it still continues to be quite hard for them. They won’t naturally go put their arm around each other because they’re conscious of this thing that’s going on, which is not even true. They won’t do that natural behavior.”
But, segueing immediately into damage-control, he does insist that: "It’s just the way the fans are. They’re so passionate, and once they get their head around an idea, that’s the way it is regardless of anything. If it wasn’t for that passionate, like, almost obsession, then we wouldn’t have the success that we had.”
Zayn's appointed descriptor as 'The Mysterious One' isn't accurate.
"I’m actually quite easy, a happy-go-lucky sort of guy, but there was a lot of situations that were almost created to make me be portrayed as the mysterious or quiet one. I guess that’s just something that people buy into, and it helps them sell things. It’s a product that’s already designed, and it sells.”
He doesn't feel a need to make any sort of religious or political statement.
"I always felt that I got some favoritism sometimes in certain places because the fans obviously want to relate to someone that’s similar to them. I’m just a normal person as well as following my religion, and doing all the normal things that everybody else does. I love music and I get tattoos and I make mistakes, and I’ve had to go through relationships and break up relationships. I feel proud that people actually look to me and can see themselves in that.”
But Zayn also says he never felt forced to act a certain way: “I don’t feel like I felt pressure ever. I always felt good that I was, like, first of my kind in what I was doing. I enjoyed that I brought the diversity. But I would never be trying to influence anything or try to stamp myself as a religious statement or portrayal of anything. I am me. I’m just doing me.”
His decision to quit the group was a long time coming.
"I guess I just wanted to go home from the beginning. 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.”
Rumors of his infidelity had nothing to do with his decision to quit One Direction.
“The two things never really coincided in my mind. Obviously, publicly, that’s the way it worked, because it worked well for the purpose. Them two stories looked good together side by side. Stories came out because we were in Thailand, and we were out and about. If we were out in Australia, if we were out in India, the same thing would have happened. It was just at a peak where the fame was intrusive and invasive. It wasn’t because of that that I left—that was just a contributing factor to everything. I’d already made my mind up before that.”
Zayn says he didn't break up with Perrie via text message.
"I have more respect for Perrie than to end anything over text message. I love her a lot, and I always will, and I would never end our relationship over four years like that. She knows that, I know that, and the public should know that as well. I don’t want to explain why or what I did, I just want the public to know I didn’t do that."
Songwriting comes easy to him, and he explores a wide array of genres on his upcoming solo work.
"It’s not hard. To me, it’s like I stood in front of a canvas for about five years, and someone said like, ‘You’re not allowed to paint on this canvas.’ I’ve got the paint, I’ve got the f---king brushes, and I can’t get it on there. Now someone removed the plastic and was like, ‘Alright, you can now paint.’"
Speaking about his album he said, "All the songs are different genres. They don’t really fit a specific type of music. They’re not like, ‘This is funk, this is soul, this is upbeat, this is a dance tune.’ Nothing is like that. I don’t really know what my style is yet. I’m kind of just showing what my influences are. Depending on what the reaction is, then I’ll go somewhere with that. If people like that I’m a bit more R&B, then I’ll do more R&B on my next album. If they like the fact that there’s reggae on there, I might do more reggae. It’s just depending on what they want and what I feel comfortable with at the time. I might even have a rock tune on the album, but it’s kind of like R&B-rock.”
He would never listen to One Direction's music of his own accord, because it's not "cool sh---t."
“That’s not music that I would listen to. 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 sh---t, you know what I mean? I want to make music that I think is cool sh---t. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.”
He's since been in touch with former bandmate Liam Payne
"I spoke to Liam about two weeks ago. It was the first time I’d spoken to him since I left the band, and I rung him, and he wanted to talk. He said that he didn’t understand it at the time, but he now fully gets why I had to do what I did. He understands that it’s my thing, that I had to do that, and that basically he wants to meet up and sit down and have a good chat in person, and he wants to do some music and work on some stuff aside from being in the band, which we always wanted to do anyway.”
Read the full story over at FADER.
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