Zayn "ZAYN" Malik covers Complex's April issue and gives a surprisingly candid interview about sex, his music and the restrictions that came with being in One Direction.
The accompanying interview sheds a new light on the newly-solo superstar and his life; Tupac's "All Eyez On Me" had the greatest musical impact on him growing up, he has a ginger rescue cat named Garfield and he's not interested in making political statements... yet.
Following a debut transatlantic #1 single, the 23-year-old's debut album "Mind Of Mine" will be released this Friday on the one-year anniversary of his departure from One Direction.
On the success of "PILLOWTALK":
"You don’t really know what’s going to happen. So when that song went out, and I saw the reaction from the fans, that took a little weight off me for a bit. Obviously, there’s still a lot of pressure. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so I’ve got a lot of work to do."
Being creatively stifled:
"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."
"Mind Of Mine" is "massively inspired" by women, says Zayn. Does he want people to have sex to his music?
"Well, if that’s something that they would choose to do, then yeah. Who knows? It’s a very sexual album. I’m sure it could fit into that scenario."
The lack of freedom in 1D:
"There were certain restrictions in terms of the way that we could come outside of that young teen boy look. Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn’t allowed to keep it. Eventually, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That’s one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard. I also wanted to dye my hair when I was in the band, but I wasn’t allowed to."
Being labelled as "the mysterious one":
"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."
"What’s more important: being real or being successful?"
Is "Mind Of Mine" more love (GiGi) or heartache (Perrie)?
"There’s a good ratio of both. There’s a lot of falling in love and a lot of falling out of love. It’s probably 60/40, falling out of love."
On the "Usher-esque" song "Drunk":
"I don’t even get shit-faced drunk. I’m not really into that type of music. There are a couple of club songs that you can dance to a bit that have a sexy vibe, but there’s none of that hard dance stuff."
Being political with his power:
"I see everything. I see the Trump thing. They are saying, “Does this mean Zayn Malik has to leave America?” These things are always there. I see what’s going on, but I’ll never be the person that will make some sort of statement. I never want to make anybody biased toward anything. I could have an opinion, but that’s my opinion. I don’t want to influence anybody’s brain in any sort of way."
"There may be a time where I feel like I have something to say about a certain topic and I’m educated enough and armed with the exact information I need before I make a statement that doesn’t offend anybody. Then I will do that. But in today’s day and age, it’s very hard to make any sort of statement that doesn’t offend somebody. I don’t want to throw stones out of a river that’s already fucking crazy."
On his greatest musical influence, Tupac:
"He took that risk and spoke about everything in detail openly and without any shame. For me to listen to that album as I grew up, it really helped me to understand that it’s OK to be honest with your art, because people appreciate that."
What's to come after "Mind Of Mine":
"I want to go to school. I’d love to get a degree in English, or literature. I’ll get my courses from one of the universities around here and just do home study. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to get my degree eventually. [So] I want to do that, and hopefully write my next record while I’m doing it."
His solo debut means a lot more than any 1D album:
"I felt different when the single dropped. There’s so many extra emotions tied into it because it’s a personal song. None of the songs that I wrote in One Direction were personal to me. Whenever we’d get an award or this or that, it was never something that I was emotionally attached to. Whereas with this, I am. I know what’s going to happen. I’m going to be crazy ecstatic when that album drops. I’m going to be buzzing."
The April/May issue of Complex can be ordered now.