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Zayn Malik reveals he left One Direction to be the first to pursue a solo career: ‘I’m competitive’

By Melanie Uson Published Jul 12, 2023 7:00 pm Updated Jul 12, 2023 7:06 pm

Zayn Malik revealed that one of the reasons why he left the band is to be the first one to pursue a solo career. 

The 30-year-old singer-songwriter opened up about his life and career in the Call Her Daddy podcast for the first time in six years after being away from the spotlight. 

Recalling how Zayn leaving the band “shook the world,” host Alex Cooper asked Zayn why he decided to part ways with the group.

“I know you’ve lightly talked about this, but just so we get a full circle moment, can you just take us back to that moment of like actually sitting with yourself and knowing it was time to leave?” she said. 

The Pillowtalk singer refused to get into the details, but said that there was a lot of “politics going on,” so he decided to “get ahead of the curve.”  

“I think I’ve known for a minute,” he said. “There was a lot of politics going on, so people were doing certain things, so people didn't want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening,” he added. 

“I was like, I’m just going to get out of here.” 

Zayn admitted that he wanted to be the first to go solo, stressing how competitive he is when it comes to his music. 

“I completely, selfishly wanted to be the first person to go and make my own record, if I’m being completely honest with you,” the Fool For You singer said. 

“I was like: 'I’m gonna jump the gun here for the first time.' I’m a passive dude, but when it comes to my music and my business, I’m serious about it and I’m competitive. So I wanted to be the first to go and do my own thing. That was the reason.” 

Apart from pursuing his solo career, Zayn also revealed that there were “underlying issues,” like the band’s internal dynamics, which became a factor in his departure as well. 

“There were obviously underlying issues, like within our friendships too,” he said. 

We’ve been together every day for five years, and we got sick of each other, if I’m being completely honest. So we were close,” he recalled. 

He further shared how he looks back at their memories on a “much fond of light,” recalling the things they have done together not just as band members, but as each other’s friends. 

“There were great experiences at great times with but yeah, we just run a course.” 

Zayn Malik left One Direction in March 2015 during their On The Road Again tour.

When asked if he ever felt afraid of the criticisms, Zayn answered no, saying he “didn’t really care about what anybody else thought.” 

“I don’t think I was afraid. The first thing I wanted to do was call my mom—as cheesy as that sounds—I just wanted to call and be like, ‘Is it okay if I come home like, is this good?’ and she was like, ‘Yeah,’” he recalled. “So as soon as she said that, I was like, yeah, I’m good.” 

“I didn’t really care about what anybody else thought,” he said, adding: “I’m not really the type of person who defines myself on other people’s opinion of myself.” 

After leaving the band, Zayn released Pillowtalk, his first-ever hit song as a solo artist. He did song collaborations with pop artists like Taylor Swift for I Don’t Wanna Live Forever which won the “Best Collaboration” award at MTV Video Music Awards in 2017. He also collaborated with Sia and Zhavia Ward. 

He is set to release his newest single, Love Like This—his first song under a new record label—on July 21.