In his first interview as a solo artist, the tatted-up, frosted-haired Malik 2.0 has gone into detail about his motivations for doing the bailer on 1D (and breaking hearts worldwide), explaining that, at 22 years of age, he likes “cool shit” now.
“That’s not music that I would listen to,” he spilled to Fader. “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,” he continued. “That’s just not who I am. If I was sat at a dinner date with a girl, I would play some cool shit, you know what I mean? I want to make music that I think is cool shit. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.”
To Malik, “cool shit” largely seems to mean R&B music, a passion of his that was consistently shat upon during his days with 1D.
“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 fuck, so they could use that version,” he explained.
“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.”
Luckily for Malik, his time spent putting in the hard yards as a commercial pop puppet has earned him enough bank to become his own man, which means he can start making #realmusic.
“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.”
And that’s exactly what the boyband alumnus is doing. Malik has been working with Frank Ocean’s producer Malay on his as-yet-untitled solo debut.
He describes his new album as diverse, saying “I can map every lyric and every note to mean something to me. It’s a snapshot of my life and the thoughts on my life, my hopes, my aspirations, and my regrets in the summer of 2015.”
And in an accompanying video for Fader , the singer previewed a brand new Weeknd-style song dubbed Befour.
Malik’s graduation from boybandom is far from an unfamiliar story. Only time will tell if he ends up being a Timberlake or a Fatone.
But our bet’s on the former, based on follicular evidence alone:
Check out a snippet of Malik’s new song Balfour (as well as him riding around shirtless on a motorcycle) in the video, below.
Watch: Zayn Malik – FADER cover star