Zayn Malik teases his solo album, finally explains why he really left One Direction

It seems like an eternity ago, but Zayn Malik actually only left British boy band/cultural force of nature One Direction late March of this very calendar year. But for all the drama he kicked up during and after his departure — trading Twitter disses with his ex-band mates and ex-producer friends, breaking up with his fiancée Perrie Edwards after four years together — he, himself, has been completely mum on the subject of his departure.

We’re serious: Much has been made of his former bandmates’ words on the subject, as well as the initial statements both One Direction and Malik released, but the man himself hasn’t actually given any interviews about about his split . . . until now.

In a cover shoot for culture magazine The Fader, Malik gives a frank, occasionally funny, and very direct interview to writer Duncan Cooper. Because of One Direction’s younger key audience and projected image, it’s easy to forget that the 22-year-old Malik is an adult man (as are his four ex-bandmates), and he spends the majority of his Fader interview discussing the perils of teenage boy band fame, and what finally made him leave.

It all boiled down to the music; One Direction’s version of straight pop didn’t reflect the formative music of Malik’s childhood. Much of that had to do with the band’s managers, whom Malik portrays as, musically, very conservative:

He further shares that while his departure wasn’t premeditated, he had been cognizant of the split between where he was and what he wanted for a long time:

“To me, it’s like I stood in front of a canvas for about five years, and someone said like, ‘You’re not allowed to paint on this canvas.’ I’ve got the paint, I’ve got the f—king brushes, and I can’t get it on there. Now someone removed the plastic and was like, ‘Alright, you can now paint,’” Malik elaborates.

Indeed, much of the article gets into the lyrics, themes, and production of his upcoming solo album, which is slated for early 2016; then, a video accompaniment to the interview features snippets of one of the songs for the release, the beguiling “Befour.” (Perhaps it’s a dig at One Direction’s Four? Have I been visiting too many 1D conspiracy fan sites? These are all questions that may or may not need answering.)

Though this interview and video are only Malik’s baby steps into his post-1D life, he’s already predicting the album’s reception while reflecting on his part of a global phenomenon:

The rest of the interview is full of introspective quotes like the above.  The whole article is worth reading, since it’s a fascinating look into someone who might just be one of 2016’s leading pop forces.

Related reading:

Finally, we know: The real reason Zayn Malik left One Direction

Stephen Hawking perfectly answers a question about Zayn Malik leaving One Direction
(Image via Fader/YouTube)