Simon Cowell on One Direction’s future: ‘I don’t know if it’s a hiatus or a break-up’

'X Factor' judge also hints at Harry Styles solo album

Simon Cowell has spoken in a new interview about the future of One Direction, as well as hinting at possible solo plans from singer Harry Styles.

The boyband announced their hiatus last year and have now fulfilled all their remaining group commitments.

Speaking to Billboard, the band’s former mentor and X Factor judge Cowell said: “I don’t know if it’s a hiatus or a break-up, to be honest.”

He added: “In a weird way, I don’t want to know. I don’t think they’ve had enough time to experience what it’s like not being in the group to really answer that.”

“Whenever I was with them, we talked about [going on a break], and I couldn’t argue with them,” the Syco label boss continued.

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“They had achieved so much in a short period of time, and I didn’t want them to get jaded. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to trust people more, particularly artists. They’ll decide when they want to come back together.”

Cowell also hinted that Harry Styles could follow in the footsteps of departed member Zayn Malik in pursuing a solo career.

“He’ll work out what kind of record he wants to make because he’s got great taste – which is always a help,” Cowell said of Styles. “All the writers and producers want to work with him, understandably, but he probably won’t rush into it.”

Cowell also talked about Zayn Malik, who parted ways with the pop group in March 2015 and is set to release his debut solo album this week.

“Zayn is still signed to our company [Sony imprint RCA Records],” Cowell told Billboard. “But the boys hadn’t bought into the fact that he was leaving, so out of respect for them, it wasn’t the right thing to put him on Syco. What’s good for Zayn is good for us, good for the show and good for the brand.”

Zayn Malik recently recalled the moment he knew he had to leave One Direction and discussed his current relationship with his former bandmates in a brand new NME interview.

Speaking to NME about the day he left the group he joined after auditioning as a solo artist on The X Factor in 2010, Malik says: “I called my security and I was like, ‘I need to sort out a plane. I want to go home.’ I don’t know how I knew, but I just did. So I chatted with my cousin. Listened to a few songs. Just waited for my plane to come.”

READ MORE: The Full Zayn Malik NME Cover Interview

Meanwhile, things remain distant between him and the rest of the band; Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Liam Payne. “I’m still probably the closest to Liam,” Zayn explains. “We talk on the phone. He congratulated me on my single, which was nice. I congratulated him on his Brit Award [the group collected the British Video Award for ‘Drag Me Down’]. It was a good chat. We haven’t met up in a long time so we want to meet up.”

Malik admits though that he hasn’t seen any of his former bandmates since before he left the band. “I tried to have contact but nobody’s reached out. So… whatever.”