Malik quit One Direction, who are currently on an extended hiatus, in March 2015 and is now embarking on a solo career. Since his departure he has hinted at tension between himself and other members of the band, saying only Liam Payne has kept in touch with him.
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.”
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.”
On the subject of his image from the One Direction days, Malik admits that he had to step back from things to stay sane. “You can be in the eye of it if you choose to be or you can let it overwhelm you,” he explains. “I’ve kept a bit of my sanity, I know how the media works. I think that’s why it came across as being mysterious or detached. I just didn’t want to get caught up in something that wasn’t real.”
Asked if he always knew he had to get out of the group before their time at the top expired, he adds: “I’m not saying that. But if I did then fuck me, I’ve got a great brain.”
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Malik’s album ‘Mind Of Mine’ is due for release on March 25 and includes the single ‘Pillowtalk’, which went to Number One in the UK and US earlier this year.
‘Pillowtalk’ charted higher than any other song One Direction ever released in the US. The closest One Direction came to scoring a chart-topping Billboard Hot 100 single was with ‘Best Song Ever’, which reached Number Two in 2013.