Zayn Malik on One Direction: “That’s Not Music That I Would Listen to”

Zayn Malik and One Direction
 Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Rays of Sunshine

Sorry, One Directioners, but Zayn Malik’s not exactly a fan of your favorite group. The former boy bander, 22, opened up in a candid new interview with Fader magazine about his decision to leave 1D back in March.  

“That’s not music that I would listen to,” Malik told the magazine. “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.”

These days, the singer is hard at work on his first solo album, and he isn’t interested in reaching the global superstar level of fame he experienced while in One Direction.

“A big part of why I left the band is I made the realization that it wasn’t actually about [being the biggest] anymore,” he said. “It wasn’t about the amount of ticket sales that I get. It was more about the people that I reach. I want to reach them in the right way, and I want them to believe what I’m saying.”

Malik claimed that his time in the group, which was founded on The X Factor, was marred by constant image constraints from One Direction’s management. Their rules affected everything from the music they produced to each member’s individual look.

Zayn Malik on the cover of Fader.
Zayn Malik on the cover of Fader. Fader

“I’m actually quite easy, a happy-go-lucky sort of guy,” Malik said, “but there was a lot of situations that were almost created to make me be portrayed as the mysterious or quiet one… It’s a product that’s already designed, and it sells.”

As a musician and an artist, Malik didn’t feel as if his opinions were being taken seriously while he was in the band.

“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively,” he said. “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—k, so they could use that version. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us.”

Since the split, there have been several tense social media exchanges between Malik and the group. Exhibit A: His very public Twitter fight with Louis Tomlinson in May over a photo he posted. But Malik hasn’t cut all ties with his former mates.

“I spoke to Liam [Payne] about two weeks ago,” he revealed. “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… 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.”

The group announced in August that it plans to go on a hiatus in 2016 so its members can focus on solo projects.

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