Zayn Malik was known as the "mysterious" one while he was in One Direction, and it seems as though he's kept that title even after he left.
But on Tuesday, Fader published the 22-year-old's first major interview since quitting the boy band. And during the lengthy sit-down, the UK native decided to clear the air about a lot of the recent decisions in his life.
Related: Simon Cowell Knew Zayn Was Leaving 1D!
The solo artist explained that his choice to leave the guy group wasn't a malicious one.
Although he initially said he just wanted to be "normal," now the heartthrob has confessed that he just wasn't happy in the boy band, saying:
"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."
The X Factor alum also admitted that the songs he was recording didn't fit the style he enjoys, saying:
"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."
That makes sense, especially since in the past Liam Payne had said that the band's pop sound wasn't Zayn's "sort of music."
When the singer finally decided to leave, he revealed that it was somewhat of a spontaneous decision, explaining:
"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."
The singer also explained that his departure from the group had nothing to do with the rumors circulating that he had cheated on his then-fiancée Perrie Edwards, adding:
"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."
And he definitely wanted to clear up one huge misconception about his breakup with the Little Mix lady, stressing that he did NOT end their engagement through text:
"If you could word it exactly this way, I'd be very appreciative. 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."
While Zayn shattered that speculation, he also shattered the dreams of any shippers who hope for romantic relationships between the remaining boys in the band, saying:
"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 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."
And even though 1D dropped their first album without him, the musician had still shown his support for his former bandmates' new music.
But that doesn't necessarily mean he prefers to listen to their tunes for fun. He confessed that One Direction's music probably won't show up on his "Recently Played" playlist:
"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."
Now that he's on his own, Perrie's ex finally feels free to express himself musically, exclaiming:
"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*cking brushes, and I can't get it on there. Now someone removed the plastic and was like, ‘Alright, you can now paint.'"
However, Directioners, this new move towards independence doesn't mean he's totally done with the famous foursome. In fact, he revealed that he had actually recently reconnected with Liam, saying:
"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."
It seems like Zayn is finally happy now that he can make the kind of music he wants.
And who knows! Maybe now that Liam, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan are about to take a hiatus, they can all go back to being best bros again!
[Image via Francesco Nazardo/Fader.]
Tags: cover shot, harry styles, liam payne, little mix, louis tomlinson, music minute, niall horan, one direction, perrie edwards, spread 'em, zayn malik