For many One Direction fans, March 25, 2015 is a day that will forever live in infamy. You see, that's the very date that Zayn Malik officially left One Direction, the boy band that made him a household name, behind for good. With some distance since he made that life-changing decision, Zayn is opening up about his life now that he's pursuing a highly-anticipated solo career. And, if you think it's going to sound anything like the bouncy pop the band produces, think again.
“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 shared in his Billboard cover story. “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 adds that the band's non-stop schedule “was like a f***ing machine going constantly.” “We weren’t allowed to say certain things, or word [lyrics] the way we would want to," he further explained. “I’d sit and wonder, ‘If the fans knew how it worked, what would they think?’ My argument was: People are more intelligent than that. They want to hear what’s real, so why don’t we write some stuff that we’re actually going through?"
Months after Zayn split from One Direction, the group released their fifth studio album, Made in the A.M. in late 2015, their first without him. When asked if he bought the release he said “nah," adding, “I’ll be honest. I thought the first single was quite cool. I heard the second single and... yeah, I didn’t buy the album.” (It should be noted that the remaining members of One Direction are currently on hiatus for an undisclosed amount of time.)
While Zayn is still hard at work on his own music, he wants fans to know “there are no sides to pick. We’re not going head-to-head" when it comes to any competition with One Direction.
However, that doesn't mean he's kept in touch with the fellas either. “The truth of it is 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," he said. "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.”
But the profile didn't just focus on his solo music and former groupmates — the heartthrob also chatted about what he looks for in a girl. He's been rumored to be dating Real Housewives of Beverly Hills daughter Gigi Hadid following his split from Little Mix's Perrie Edwards, and the twosome have reportedly even checked out some apartments in New York. While he didn't mention the model by name, he did drop his desired qualities for a potential love interest. "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," Zayn said. "I like an opinion.”
Check out some photos of Zayn's rumored lady love, below.