Malik, 30, dished on his journey in the spotlight on the Wednesday, July 12, episode of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, sitting down with host Alex Cooper at her family’s home in Pennsylvania. Malik opened up about leading a quiet life in the same state, where he’s raising daughter Khai, 2, whom he shares with ex Gigi Hadid.
“I [was] coming out here with my ex about and I fell in love with it. … I just wanted to take a break from the busy city,” he said of moving from New York City.
Malik — best known for singing with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne in One Direction — wanted to step away from the “overwhelming” pressure of the public eye. However, drama still found him in the suburbs.
In October 2021, Us Weekly confirmed Malik was charged with four criminal offenses of harassment after an alleged dispute with Yolanda, 59, one month prior. Per court docs, Malik was accused of “causing mental anguish and physical pain” to Yolanda after shoving her and shouting profanities on the Pennsylvania property. He allegedly called Gigi’s mother “a f–king Dutch slut” and told her to “stay away from [my] f–king daughter.”
Malik pleaded no contest to the charges and was put on a 90-day probation for each of his four counts (360 days in total). The musician was also ordered to complete an anger management class and a domestic violence program.
When news broke of the incident, Malik repeatedly denied Yolanda’s claims. In a lengthy Twitter statement, he argued the situation “was and still should be a private matter” as they tried to restore “a peaceful family environment” for Khai. (Us confirmed in October 2021 that Malik and Gigi, who began dating on and off in 2015, split amid the drama.)
More than one year after the alleged altercation, Malik discussed the fallout on Wednesday’s podcast. “I believe I dealt with it in the best way, like, in an amicable [and] respectful way. And that’s all that needs to be said,” he noted. “I feel like it’s a lot of negativity, you know?”
Scroll down for more of the biggest bombshells from Malik’s rare interview — including an update on how he gets along with Gigi now:
On Leaving One Direction
Malik abruptly announced his departure from the band in 2015 — in the middle of their On the Road Again Tour. He explained on Wednesday that he felt “so overexposed in the band” before choosing to leave.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, but there was a lot of politics going on, certain people were doing certain things, certain people didn’t want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening so I just got ahead of the curve,” he said, hinting that he knew “for a minute” that it was time to go solo. “Selfishly, I wanted to be the first person to make my own record.”
Malik confessed that there were “underlying issues” within the group. “We’d been together every day for five years and we got sick of each other, to be completely honest,” he said, adding that he’s able to look back on his time with the band in a more “fond light” now than when he first left. “We just ran our course.”
On Coparenting With Gigi Hadid
Malik gave a brief update on his “good” coparenting relationship with his ex, saying that the pair both view Khai’s happiness as “the main importance.”
On His Feud With Yolanda Hadid
Malik made a rare comment about his drama with Yolanda and how it impacted his custody arrangement with Gigi. “I knew what the situation was. I knew what happened, and the people involved knew what happened too,” he said of the 2021 incident. “And that’s all I really cared about. … I believe you could respect that I just didn’t want to bring attention to anything, I just wasn’t trying to get into a negative back and forth with her [or] any sort of narrative online where my daughter was going to look back and read that.”
Malik explained that he doesn’t “tend to get involved when people say things online” for the sake of his daughter. “For me, my most valuable thing that I have in life in time. And that takes so much time, in a toxic environment, to explain yourself to people and justify this. I just kinda keep to myself,” he said.
He asserted that he tried to handle the situation “in the best way,” noting that he still shares equal custody with Gigi. “I’m super full-on, hands-on with my child every chance I can be,” he said. “If I could get 60 percent [custody], I would have it.”
On Setting an Example for Khai
Since welcoming Khai in September 2020, Malik has felt a shift in his priorities. “The main thing in my mind is trying to be a good example to her,” he said. “That’s why I’m even doing this interview, you know? I used to get a lot of anxiety around having a conversation like this. And I want her to be able to look at me and be like, ‘My dad’s doing this.'”
Malik spoke about his preference for raising Khai away from the public eye. “I’m not necessarily trying to shield her from it … I’m just trying to give her an option,” he said, adding that Khai has already shown some “musical intelligence.”
On His New Music
Malik teased what fans can expect from his upcoming album, revealing that he drew inspiration from “real life experiences” — including fatherhood. “My daughter’s mentioned in there a couple times,” he hinted, describing his “different sound.”