"There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band," Zayn tells the magazine. "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. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn't fit us.
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"There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn't convinced with what we were selling. 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 said all of this fed heavily into his reasoning for quitting the band, because he wasn't reaching people in the way he wanted anymore. In a sense he wasn't being creatively fulfilled anymore.
"I made the realization that it wasn't actually about [being the biggest] anymore. It wasn't about the amount of ticket sales that I get. It was more about the people that I reach," he said. "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. If they don't want to listen to it, then don't fucking listen to it. I'm cool with that too. I've got enough. I don't need you to buy it on a mass scale for me to feel satisfied."
Malik's other big split of the year came with his breakup with former fiance Perrie Edwards of Little Mix, something he was rumored to have done via text message. While he did not delve too deep into that relationship, he did look to correct the record. He said, "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."
The article also teases Malik's solo debut album that's currently scheduled for release early next year and it sounds like he's found a style he can personally relate to, unlike One Direction.
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"I'm working every day now, but I'm working on music that I enjoy," he said. "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. 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."
As for his relationship with his former bandmates -- who, themselves, have said they will take a break from the project next year -- it doesn't sound like Zayn is too close to them, but not totally estranged either.
"I spoke to Liam [Payne] about two weeks ago," Zayn said. "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."
Read the full story here.