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Zayn Malik: One Direction Was a ‘Springboard,’ I Wanted to Leave ‘the First Year’

Zayn Malik
Zayn MalikJason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Flying solo — and loving it. Zayn Malik opened up about his first solo album, Mind of Mine, and why he decided to leave One Direction during Apple Music’s Beats 1 on Thursday, January 28.

“[One Direction] was amazing. I did that for five years, enjoyed it. We had some of the best times ever. This is something that is for me,” Malik, 23, told host Zane Lowe.

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Malik left the popular British group after five years last March. He and his former bandmates — Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson — were first formed by Simon Cowell during The X Factor UK in 2010, where they placed third.

“I was young. I was 17 at the time and I had just come out of school. It was much more exciting than doing exams,” Malik recalled. “I think I kind of always wanted to go. From, like, the first year really. I never really wanted to be there in the band.” (Malik also told Ryan Seacrest that the show was a “springboard” he used to help him “further down the line.”)

“I just gave it a go because it was there at the time and then when I realized the direction we were going in with the music, don’t mind the pun, I instantly realized it wasn’t for me because I realized I couldn’t put any input in. I couldn’t give my opinion on this or that because it didn’t fit the grain of what we were as a band or what we represented,” he continued. “So, that’s when it became frustrating for me. That’s when I had to be like, ‘I’ve got to start thinking about myself.'”

Malik noted that the other members always knew that pop music wasn’t his favorite genre. They tried to throw him “R&B ad-libs” now and then, but it just wasn’t enough.

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“How do you write a song from five people’s perspective? You kind of just go with whatever’s going on and I just didn’t want to be like the person to say that I was right because who am I to say that?” he said. “They didn’t want me to leave, but they couldn’t talk me out of it.”

One Direction
One Direction arrive at the 2014 American Music Awards Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Laughing, Malik also said he wasn’t fond of busting a move on stage. “The whole dancing thing was something I’ve never been interested in,” he told Lowe. “I was usually nervous.”

As previously reported, Malik flew home to North London following his departure. He told Lowe that his father, Yaser Malik, wasn’t “too impressed” that he quit, but after a few months he got “itchy feet” and began to write new music. He officially released “Pillowtalk” on Friday. (The music video features his “good friend” Gigi Hadid. Us Weekly exclusively revealed last month that the two are dating.)

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“It feels great to be able to just do whatever and take the responsibility myself,” he explained. “This is the music that I grew up listening to. These are the influences I had. This is what I have to say. And the two things are very separate. And you can listen to that and still, like, understand that I appreciated that. They’re just two completely separate things.”

Watch Malik’s music video above!

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