Photography by Miller Mobley, courtesy of Billboard.
Former 1D member Zayn Malik is gearing up for his much-awaited solo comeback. For his first cover story since his split with the band, Malik speaks to Billboard on the creative differences and industry pressure that led him to walk away, and gives us a taste of what's to come: A new LP slated to be a pure R&B gem.
His music tastes clashed with One Direction
"I genuinely enjoyed [the band] and did whatever I could to be myself within that, but it's just not where I sit as a musician," he says. "The other boys' taste was generally indie rock. It's good music, but I don't f--- with it. That was never cool where I was from."
He might be the next Frank Ocean
Zayn has been collaborating with producer James "Malay" Ho (who worked on Frank Ocean's Channel Orange) Billboard reports. Judging from his music [teased during the interview], he's poised to impress the dominant music geeks of the day, who care less about guitar-slingers than artful practitioners of beats and atmosphere, like Drake and The Weeknd.
He has no hard feelings towards his former bandmates, yet some of them won't return his calls
Malik downplays any rivalry between himself and his old mates. "There are no sides to pick," he says. "We're not going head-to-head."
"The truth of it is," he says carefully, "you can think one thing about a situation and the total opposite can happen. I had every intention of remaining friends with everybody, but I guess certain phone numbers have changed and I haven't received calls from a lot of people. I've reached out to a few of them and not got a reply. Certain people have pride issues, but it's stuff you overcome in time."
He loves to smoke weed and record all night
"I'll come down here and record maybe seven songs a night," he says from the far side of a mixing board, eyes getting more slit-like as the night progresses. "That's because I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I'm not censoring myself anymore, so I'm not tired. I love it." [...] He even smokes pot with a degree of ambition -- Malik only burns sativa (the more energizing, cerebral strain of marijuana), because it's "creative weed."
He's a great cook, like his mom
"I have about six of her signature dishes down, and I'll pull them out for the ladies when I need to."
He likes curvy girls with big brains (sorry, guys!)
"I need a challenge. Also, I like girls that are a bit chunky in certain areas -- the nice areas. I like a fuller woman. I enjoy an intellectual conversation as well, where someone can construct a sentence beyond what hair and makeup they're wearing, and talk about something political or about the world. I like an opinion."