Being a part of One Direction catapulted Zayn Malik to fame, but the pressure that came with it proved to be too much for the Bradford crooner. In March 2015, the 22-year-old showed signs of despair when he cried onstage in Hong Kong. The day after, he was out of the “On the Road Again” tour. In an interview with Billboard, Malik talked about what he initially did after deciding to quit the world’s biggest pop act.
“I went home. I seen my mum, who cooked me some great food. I ate for three weeks because I’d lost so much weight in the band. I seen my sisters and put my dad’s sheepskin on — I walked around and everyone thought I was him. Nobody bothered me. It was good for my soul to be back in Bradford.”
Malik also relocated to a Los Angeles bungalow, where he started to record songs. He loved the arrangement so much that he covered the walls with graffiti – one of them bearing the words “Fresh Prince,” seemingly pertaining to him starting anew.
Malik quitting One Direction did wonders for his creative process. He thinks it’s more liberating now because the band is allegedly not allowed to incorporate certain things or words to the songs. He also pointed out that, despite genuinely enjoying his stay in the band, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson’s tastes in music were different from his.
In a previous chat with Fader, Malik revealed that there was a creative restraint in the band. He said that if he sang a verse using his own R&B style, he’d be asked to repeat the verse until it sounded pop. Simon Cowell, however, thought his statement was not fair to those who penned the songs.
“I think once he has had a chance to reflect on everything, he will probably reconsider what he’s said because it was a very, very democratic process in the band.”
Even if Malik admitted in the same Billboard interview that he’s not on great terms with his former band mates, he’s excited for the things to come. Apart from recording, he is creating a collage wall displaying Polaroid shots as well as his drawings. He takes pride that when he gets frustrated, he releases his pent-up emotions in his studio instead of drinking or punching a bag.
“I’ll come down here and record maybe seven songs a night. That’s because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not censoring myself anymore, so I’m not tired. I love it.”
Only time can tell if his friendship with the boys will return to its former state, but Malik assured everyone that there are no sides because they “are not going head-to-head.” He will release his first solo album, Befour, early this year, and he has already told Fader that he wouldn’t compete with 1D.
“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. I’ve done enough in terms of financial backing for me to live comfortably. I just want to make music now. If people want to listen to that, then I’m happy.”
[Image via Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images]