All the conspiracy theories surrounding Zayn Malik’s sudden decision to quit One Direction can finally be put to bed. His boy band defection happened for one reason and one reason only: He hated the music.
In his first interview since leaving 1D earlier this year, Malik told The FADER that somewhere along the way, he became disillusioned by all the success. “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 tickets 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. I’ve done enough in terms of financial backing for me to live comfortably. I just want to make music now.”
Malik is about to get his shot. Earlier today, The FADER previewed a short snippet from his upcoming single “Befour” which falls in line with the gauzy R&B that Malik was longing to make during his 1D days. But according to the 22-year-old singer, any time he tried to inject some of his own sound into a One Direction song, he was rejected.
“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,” he admitted. “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.”
Malik did his best to avoid outright dissing his former band mates personally, but he had no problems with bashing the generic brand of power folk pop that One Direction is known for, saying “That’s not music I would listen to.” Malik expanded, admitting that despite its global appeal, he would never listen to One Direction at a party with his girl. “To me, that’s not an insult, that’s me as a 22-year-old man,” he clarified. “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 want to make music that I think is cool sh*t. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.”
Read the rest of Malik’s revealing interview for The FADER’s Now issue here.