Zayn Malik, always one to keep us on our toes, gave his first solo on-camera interview on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show on Thursday. And man, it was a doozy.
As we previously reported, the 23-year-old revealed in the lengthy interview that his debut solo album is titled Mind Of Mine and will feature 17 or 18 songs. The first single, “Pillowtalk,” arrives tonight at midnight EST.
While we wait for that first taste of Solo Zayn, let’s take a look at 13 of the most shocking, revelatory and exciting things he talked about in the no-holds-barred interview:
He’ll have a collaboration with Kehlani on his album (and it might not be their only one).
Zayn said there’s a song called “Wrong” that’s “all about looking in the wrong place for love.” He says he originally wrote as a rap, which he then used to create lyrics for the song. He played it for Kehlani, and the two then decided to trade features with one another — so it sounds like he may be appearing on one of Kehlani’s upcoming songs as well.
He hinted that there’s a song about his broken relationship with ex-fiancée, Perrie Edwards.
Zayn said there’s “a fine line” when tackling that kind of personal subject matter, but ultimately, it was a cathartic process for him. “It was a form of therapy for me, and it did help me get through some sh-t,” he said about writing the song.
“She” sounds like a bonafide banger.
“It’s a bit more of like a party tune. And it’s a bit more… it’s not as intense lyrically. It’s more about just having a good time,” he said, assuring Lowe that he is, in fact, enjoying himself these days.
He loved working with producer Malay, who’s a frequent Frank Ocean collaborator.
“He’s just an amazing person. Like from the second I met him I just knew he was kind of different,” Zayn said. “He looks into every instrument in high detail and he understands how to break it down.” Zayn said Malay once told him a story of how he crafted a beat by putting a condom over a microphone and swishing it around in water. So who knows what kind of crazy sounds we’ll hear on Zayn’s LP.
He already has a video for “Pillowtalk.”
“I’ve got a video for ‘Pillowtalk.’ I haven’t got videos for any other songs yet,” he dished, adding that the video will definitely be true to his vision. “In terms of collaborating, it’s all my creative direction,” he said. “That’s something that’s massively liberating, do you know what I mean? It feels great to be able to just be like, ‘Yeah I did that.’”
He curiously dodged a question about Gigi Hadid.
After Lowe brought up that Zayn is “in a relationship,” the singer didn’t exactly agree. “Yeah, good friends, yeah,” Zayn said. Hmmmm, either there’s trouble in #Zaygi land or he’s just keeping tight-lipped and isn’t ready to take their coupledom public. No harm in either.
He’ll tour again, if people like his music.
“Eventually, yeah. If there’s a demand for it, I’ll tour,” he said, adding that he wants to see what the response to his music is like first. He did, however, reveal that he’s already rehearsing some of the songs from his album with a live band, including two lead female guitarists who are “really sick.” So it sounds like he may have some live performances coming up in the near future, likely to promote “Pillowtalk.”
He really wasn’t a fan of being on “The X Factor.”
Zayn recounted the story of how his mom made him get up and go to his “X Factor” audition when all he wanted to do was sleep in. That anecdote basically mirrored Z’s experience on the show — he told Lowe that he was “always going to rebel against the system,” saying he was “massively nervous” to dance in front of people on television. “The whole dancing thing just wasn’t a thing I was interested in. […] You go on that show with your own preconceptions, and they’re just going to show you what they want and do whatever they want you to do.” He says he went along with all of it, but he didn’t enjoy it.
He always knew he wanted to leave One Direction.
“I think I kind of always wanted to go. From like from the first year, really,” Zayn admitted. “I never really wanted to be there, in the band. I just gave it a go because it was there at the time. And then when I realized the direction we were going in, mind the pun, I instantly realized it wasn’t for me because I realized I couldn’t give my opinion because it didn’t fit the grain of what we were at the band and what we represented. That’s when it became frustrating.”
Zayn didn’t like One Direction’s songwriting process.
He said that in the early days, it would often be the five of them in a room trying to write a song, and he didn’t feel like his voice could be heard that way. “Now how do you write a song from five people’s perspectives?” he asked, explaining that he “didn’t want to be the person to say that I was right.” Now, Zayn said he prefers to write songs completely alone because it allows him to say things he “wouldn’t normally say.”
His bandmates didn’t try to talk him out of leaving 1D.
“I think the boys kind of knew that, in terms of the music, that wasn’t my cup of tea. They were aware of that,” Zayn said. So it when it came time for him to tell the group he was leaving, they didn’t try to persuade him otherwise. “They obviously didn’t want me to leave, but they couldn't talk me out of it at that point,” he said. “I had made my mind up.”
His parents had mixed reactions to him leaving the band.
Zayn said that after leaving 1D’s tour, he got on a plane and flew straight home. “My dad weren’t too impressed,” he said, explaining that his dad initially saw him as a quitter (Papa Malik’s since come around though). His mom, however, got straight to work cooking for him and taking care of him, which Zayn says relieved his stress immensely. “She’s a woman that you always need,” he said about his mum. After a couple months of laying low, though, Z say he “got itchy feet” and got to work in the studio, prepping his solo debut.
He called his time with 1D “amazing,” but says he has so much more to prove in Z016.
“That was amazing. I did that for five years and we had some of the best times ever,” he said of his time with the band, before explaining that what he’s doing now is more true to who he is. “The two things are very separate. I appreciated that, they’re just two completely separate things. This is more fun for me […] This is what I have to say.” As for what he wants to get across with his solo music, Zayn says it’s all about showing off his vocal talent, his ability to write and talk from his own perspective and proving “I can hold my own.”