Zayn Malik says he left One Direction because band members got “sick of each other” and he “completely selfishly” wanted to be the first to make a solo album.
The singer’s first record Mind Of Mine soared to the top of the charts after his exit from the band, following him leaving One Direction eight years ago citing “stress”.
One Direction – consisting also of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson – then went on indefinite hiatus in 2016.
In his first sit-down interview in years, Malik was asked on the Call Her Daddy podcast about his decision to exit.
He said: “I don’t want to go into too much detail, but there was a lot of politics going on, so people were doing certain things, so people didn’t want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening.
“So I just got ahead of the curve, if I’m being honest with you, I was like, I’m just going to get out of here.
“I think this is done and I just seen it, and I completely selfishly wanted to be the first person to go and make my own record.
The 30-year-old Bradford-born singer added that there was “underlying issues” with their friendship as well.
Malik said: “We’d been together every day for five years and we’d got sick of each other… so we were close.
“We (did) crazy things with each other and that nobody else in the world will ever understand or have them.
“I look back on it now in a much fonder light than I would have you know as I just left.”
Malik is set to release Love Like This this month following his last charted single Vibez coming out in 2021.
He shares a daughter Khai, two, with US catwalk star Gigi Hadid, who he said has brought “colour” back into his adult life.
The pair have since separated, but Malik said they shared a “really good” co-parenting relationship.
He said: “Khai is the main importance, so yeah it’s going well… I think.”
In October 2021, Malik pleaded no contest to claims of harassment after allegedly launching a tirade against Hadid’s mother, 57-year-old Dutch-American socialite Yolanda Hadid.
He was placed on 90 days probation on all four counts for a total of 360 days, and was told to complete an anger management class and a domestic violence programme.
Malik said that despite the online fallout, he felt he had handled the situation “in an amicable, respectful way” and had not wanted to get into a “negative back-and-forth” about the incident.
“I don’t tend to get involved when people say stuff online, whether it’s got something to do with me or it doesn’t because for me my most valuable thing I have in life is time,” he said.
“(It) takes so much time in a toxic environment to explain yourself to people and justify this – so I just kind of keep to myself.”
He continued: “I knew what the situation was. I knew what happened and the people involved knew what happened – and that’s all I really cared about.
“I just didn’t want to bring attention (to it) or get into a negative back-and-forth or any sort of narrative online where my daughter was going to look back and read that.
“I believe I dealt with it in the best way, in an amicable respectful way and that’s all that needs to be said – feel like there’s a lot of negativity.”