Please hold the land of your closest Directioner before I carry on with this news. In a new interview with The Fader, Zayn Malik revealed why he left One Direction. And, no, it's not because he wanted to "live like a normal 22-year-old." I think we all know by this point that that explanation was just to let the fans down easy. Malik is getting ready to launch his new solo career with music that he crafted himself, and, to prepare us all for the transition, he's closing the door on his old life and stepping forward into the new. So why did Zayn Malik leave One Direction? According to him, he was being stifled creatively. And, honestly, that's understandable.
On Tuesday, Malik previewed his "Befour" single in a video that preceded the interview, and speculation ran rampant that the title was a nod to One Direction's last four members and Malik's final album with the band, FOUR. When the interview itself came out, the 22-year-old admitted that his creative style didn't mess with that of the band, and it hasn't for a while. "There was never any room for me to experiment creatively," he said."“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 f*ck, so they could use that version. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us... I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me."
Now that he's on his own, Malik is determined to "make music that I think is cool as sh*t." Music that sounds like what he would listen to, what he enjoys. Music that he has complete creative control over. And, as I said, that's understandable. When you're a part of a band that has a certain sound, all of the music that you have to make has to be music that fits in with the style and sound of that band. It's not just about you; it's about the ensemble. And Malik makes it very clear in this interview that he loves making music, loves the artistry of it. As he himself puts it, "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*cking brushes, and I can’t get it on there. Now someone removed the plastic and was like, ‘Alright, you can now paint.’”
It's an apt description considering that Malik is also a very fine artist. (Does this mean we can maybe expect that his album cover will be an original painting from him?) However, it does hurt just a bit that Malik also stated that he "just wanted to go home from the beginning." Thinking that he's been unhappy being in One Direction for five years, when he seemed so happy in interviews and appearances and the concert movies before, hurts. I'm glad that he's happy, and that he finally feels free to do what he's always wanted to do, but five years is a long time to wait for that happiness. However, I'm also happy that Malik is living an authentic life and being honest with his fans, old and new, for the first time. He seems happier than ever, and I guess that's all that matters.