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Zayn Malik on Leaving One Direction: 'No One Can Say I Was Ungrateful'

Zayn Malik on Leaving One Direction: 'No One Can Say I Was Ungrateful'

Zayn Malik goes shirtless in this brand new photo shoot with Complex magazine’s April/May 2016 issue.

Here’s what the 23-year-old singer had to share:

On feeling like he lost authenticity in One Direction: “That was something that was always underlying, and ended up as the main factor of me leaving in the end. It was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it. That was always there. It was one of the things that wasn’t going to go away, so I had to go away.”

On being called ungrateful: “No one can ever say I was ungrateful, even though it sort of comes across that way when I mention that I was frustrated with the band. That’s not the case at all. That was just an experience that had to be dealt with at the time. With the music that I’m doing now, I get to express myself, and that creative tension is gone.”

On being labeled the “mysterious one” in 1D: “In terms of me being described as the mysterious one, that was put on me as a stigma because I didn’t get the chance to speak as much. The other boys’ personalities were much more forward. They would answer the questions. I would let that happen because, like I said, I didn’t have any creative input there. I didn’t feel like I was going to say anything about it anyway. Now I get to talk about what I’m passionate about—it’s nice to have the chance to speak.”

For more from Zayn, visit Complex.com.

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Credit: Complex
Posted to: Magazine, Shirtless, Zayn Malik

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  • Madsxx

    Another interview with Zayn talking about 1D? Good grief. What’s he going to do to stay relevant when he doesn’t have them to talk about anymore? Cause for someone with an album coming out soon, he’s barely done any promo…

  • Gina

    Honey, do you really think an interviewer is gonna let him go without asking a question about 1D? Him leaving the biggest boyband in the world is something that’s gonna go down in pop music history. Ya damn right he’s gonna talk about it. Also, he needs to convince people who aren’t 1D fans how his music is different. He’s aiming at a different demographic, so he has to make it clear.

  • totalobvi

    Yes because now he is making such authentic and creative with music with his new song Pillowtalk. lol.

  • Madsxx

    It’s been a year. He can always say I don’t need to talk about that anymore. But he doesn’t so whatever. He wants to do his own thing that is fine. I respect him for that. Do what makes you happy.

  • Glyn Ruck

    “Don’t throw stones into rivers that are already raging..” A very wise comment!

    1D was told what to say, told what to do, told what to sing, told how to sing it & told to be happy by their uninspired management. What an insincere, plastic life! It’s all slowly leaking out!

  • Stefelles

    Has he said anything positive about his experience in one direction?

  • Mike1288

    Fine I will be the one to say it he is ungrateful and arrogant. Pillow talk is good but not any more original than any 1D song. When you say I want out of the limelight and now use a different excuse you are not authentic. It was a lie and it was lame. He could have gone on and on about 1D last year to get it out of his system now he is using it for publicity.

  • Gina

    He never said he wanted out of the limelight, his management team made that very generic statement on the band’s facebook page, probably to spite him and make him look like a liar. Let’s not forget that jerk Simon Cowell was the head of his management team & record label, and he doesn’t like being crossed. Zayn is bound to get asked about 1D, that’s inevitable; but if you really want to go there, then you need to acknowledge that 1D used Zayn’s departure as publicity to promote their last album as well, so it goes both ways.

  • Gina

    It’s authentic and true to him, that’s all that matters.

  • Gina

    A year went by like nothing.This is his very first album since his departure, it’s still fresh, it’s still relevant, and he’s still gonna get asked about it.

  • Gina

    He said that he loves his boys and he got to experience things most people don’t get to experience. Trust me, these boys went through the trenches together, they were work horses for their very greedy management team & record label. 5 albums & tours in 5 years isn’t normal. I’m sure the other boys have some stories to tell about the experience as well, but they do not have the freedom to do so.

  • Guestz

    Pillowtalk was miles better than most of 1D’s singles. He was singing about his heartbreak and experiences. He wrote, produced, and was part of the process which is better for him and his fans.

  • Guestz

    Pillowtalk, Befour, and Like I Would is far better than anything 1D has ever released.

    He is being more honest about his life and his experiences. The Directioners who bought into false narratives against him can’t handle the snippets of truth about it. 1D’s team wanted to paint him as the villain. Zayn has been nothing but humble and gracious so far. I hope he speaks out more.

    I hope Zayn will become less censored as time goes on and reveal more facts. He was asked about 1D and he is discussing the reality behind the restrictions and negative experiences but only to a minor degree. 1D exploited his exit in the worst way yet people want Zayn to keep quiet.

  • Guestz

    That is hypocritical given how much Simon, 1D, and everybody else has discussed Zayn by providing a false narrative about his exit that Zayn was forced to comply with due to management restrictions. There have been endless inaccurate and derogatory articles circulated against Zayn. Who do you think was responsible for that?

    Zayn is discussing his life and he has every RIGHT to discuss his real experiences. He is promoting his album and sharing more of his real self with the world. It is bitter directioners and haters who want to spin this negatively.

  • Guestz

    Zayn is going to share more about the truth as time goes on. 1D’s team and other managements have done nothing but mistreat and exploit him. Do you think Zayn is not allowed to have a say at all?

    He is under no obligation to protect 1D. I hope he shares more about the truth as time goes on. The public was fed bs and he took the fall for it.

  • Guestz

    Zayn shouldn’t have to lie about his experiences in 1D to please people who have fantasies about them. He was hurt badly and the general public are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It is not fair how Zayn has been painted by the media and 1D’s team.

    He has said repeatedly he was grateful for the opportunities but that doesn’t mean he had to put up with being mistreated or restricted.

  • Guestz

    This Complex interview was interesting and insightful. I am so proud of Zayn and what he has accomplished. I hope he can live up to his extraordinary potential and pursue his goals. He can be authentic, explore his interests, and get an education while making more beautiful songs. He discusses his musical inspirations like Tupac, his outlook on discussing politics in the future, wanting to go back to college, the context behind some of his songs, being an introvert, and his heritage but the media is only circulating certain soundbytes in articles.

    We are getting more snippets of who Zayn is and are learning more about his life. It is too bad that the media is still holding onto a narrative about 1D because they want to hold on to their fictitious version of what went down. I hope Zayn can become more free and less censored as time goes on.

  • Guestz

    Zayn talks about a lot of subjects besides 1D in this interview like his musical inspirations and the focus was being authentic. He will remain relevant due to his talent, hard work, and beautiful music. There are people who stan him for his personality.

    When he is asked about 1D, he will give honest answers. He is not even discussing the whole story yet people can’t handle it. 1D’s team exploited Zayn to the extreme to remain relevant and popular. If people knew the real story, 1D would have reached its downfall soon after Zayn left. Instead, everything was painted in a certain way that would benefit 1D and even Little Mix.

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  • Glyn Ruck

    The 22yr old out of the limelight comment was scripted by HJPR for the 1D Facebook page. Zayn never said that which is why he said “I never told you why I left” at the RCA signing. Before you are considered obtuse. Suggest you inform yourself by reading the entire interview with Zayn by Complex Magazine and concentrate on his answers. The media always extracts minor excerpts and then applies bias to them. Not useful in informing people of the truth. Comment when you have read & absorbed what exactly he said! Don’t be led by the nose by the tabloids & gossip media. If you can read & hopefully comprehend English. Why do you not grasp the understanding that Zayn’s
    adverse comments are aimed at 1D’s management & PR & not his band mates? They all feel the same way with the possible exception of Niall who actually likes boybands although I think even he will grow out of them. Niall is also extremely compliant. 1D was a means to an end for all of them. Do you honestly think that what they were doing did not
    get old! You underestimate them. Liam will be the next one to tell the truth. He’s had enough! The trouble is that all the boys are going to have to expunge the false image that has been created around them that fans have bought into. Like Zayn, they are going to have to re-educate the public as to who they really are & not some plastic creation of management & PR.

  • Glyn Ruck

    Zayn’s words to Ryan Seacrest regarding his time with 1D “I’m massively grateful for that, and if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here, It’s not because I’m trying to be more successful or as successful as what was going on before, because there’s no comparison. I was in the biggest boy band in the world and I loved what we did as a boy band. That’s what makes this so exciting for me, because I’m in control of it now.” He says similar things in the Complex interview. It was a brave move to walk away from easy money & fame. Noel Gallagher suggested he stand back stage, smoke a few joints, b.o.n.k. every available woman & take the cheque. Zayn did not do that. That took courage. All the boys feel the same way which is why they are steadily changing management & PR. They all need to expunge the manufactured & false image. Their uninspired management caused the fracturing of 1D and damage to a 1 billion dollar brand. Had they allowed some freedom things could have been very different. Note that he is executive producer of Mind of Mine & has just started recording his second album this week. Read what Kehlani had to say about working with him.

  • Stefelles

    Ok I get..Zayn is fab!! I’m wondering if you, Gina, and Guestz are his publicists? You guys seem to be on the defense here.

  • aj

    People can throw out the same kind of accusations against the bandwagon of people who are constantly trashing him.

    He will have people who defend him with with the truth when haters and anti-campaigners attack.

  • aj

    Zayn looks stunning here. I am looking forward to more candid revelations from him. His courage and authenticity inspires me.

    It is sad that others are not interested in hearing about the reality about what he experienced even while Zayn is expressing restraint.

  • Cass

    mhmm!

  • Aliyah

    I’m so proud of Zayn, this interview was amazing and truly inspirational. I’m not surprised that some people are attempting to stir trouble by misquoting him, but I’m convinced that he will be well off in the end because that kid has backbone. He’s been through a lot in five years and I’m glad he’s beginning to tell his story. I don’t doubt that there will be interviews similar to this, but I’m hoping that once his album comes out, he breaks free from his constraints and becomes his own person.

  • Aliyah

    Zayn doesn’t owe anyone anything. He’s telling his side of the story. Last year we’ve been hearing 1D tell their side of the story. I’m sure you didn’t complain then.

  • Cass

    It was nice to here more about his experience in the band. im sure it’s very eye-opening for some. i also hope ppl will stop tagging him as ungrateful. Just bc someone didnt like the entire experience of something, does not mean they regret it or take it for granted. He’s made that clear numerous times yet ppl still want to attack him with nonsense. Not everyone likes high school, but once you graduate do it wish it never happened?? probably not bc you got a freaking education. Not everything is rainbows and sunshine and people are allowed to critique experiences they look back on. In the end, it’s what helps us grow as people

  • Cass

    exactly.

  • Aliyah

    Zayn is a true artist. He’s talking about the music, he’s showcasing his talents through videos and public performances. He’s letting the music speak for himself. He’s simply answering the questions being asked of him. Of course people will still be curious about why he left 1D but he’s slowing becoming more confident. I’m sure the truth will come out soon enough.

  • Aliyah

    I think you should listen to Befour. Zayn is creating music with different sound. All about different experiences in his life, and honestly, so much more relatable than anything 1D has come up with

  • Aliyah

    Or maybe we’re here to support a guy that’s been through so much. A guy that is down to earth, intelligent, and deserves respect

  • Glyn Ruck

    Hardly on the defensive. Just value logic & the truth!

  • Stefelles

    Been through so much??? Use your words wisely. He’s hardly been through anything. So what, he couldn’t make the music he wanted to do while in the band? Did he have the luxury of traveling the world? On private jets even. Yes. Did he make millions of dollars regardless of the kind of music he made? Yes. Did he live a generally happy and bountiful life compared to what billions of other people have lived in this world? Hell yes. Sorry if I don’t feel bad for him. Maybe you should look at the news and see wtf is happening in this world (especially yesterday), and what people are ACTUALLY going through. No one is saying Zayn does not deserve respect. You guys are so excited to defend him when there hasn’t been negative press about him? Maybe die hard one direction fans are upset with him and are the “haters” you all seem to be referring to, but that’s understandable. If you spend years being completely loyal to and a fan of something, and then someone says it was all a farce, yeah you’d be pretty upset too. Other than that he’s gotten great press and praise for his somewhat average music so how about you guys chill out a bit.

  • Guestz

    This is an article about Zayn, not about those issues. You don’t know about the charity work or sympathy that people have offered when it comes to those matters either. He has been through a lot that you do not know about and refuse to acknowledge at all. Trying to manipulate or guilt trip people into not defending him by exploiting those tragedies is utterly distasteful and then you are trying to pretend that Zayn hasn’t experienced racism, victimization, betrayal, physical, emotional, professional abuse, and is the target of a really depraved cycle of corruption.

    Do not tell people to chill out and then lie or deny the reality of what is going on. There has been a lot of negative press and unfounded backlash against him but I guess that isn’t enough for you. People will always speak out against corruption and a bias. You are also not going to shame or prevent people from defending him against the insane amount of slander he has to deal with or ignore that we know about the abuse that he had to deal with.

    Nobody is going to dig out the hundreds of inflammatory articles from the media, some which were planted from people who are operating against him. You have little clue as to what you are talking about. He has dealt with manufactured scandals, a constant smear campaign, and a lot of physical & emotional abuse that you aren’t aware of. It goes beyond the musical restrictions. Stop diminshing somebody’s pain and act like millions of people being manipulated with bs is no big deal.

    You are spinning around the entire set of circumstances so you can justify hatred and bashing while shaming people who defend him or discuss the truth. Classic deflection.

  • Stefelles

    Honestly not going to bother ready that ^ Literally worked up over a pop star.. Not that deep.

  • Guestz

    It is deeper than you know. It is called getting worked up over what is right. Stop heckling people who defend him, if you are so apathetic.