Zayn Malik, of a Pakistani father and British mother, rose to fame when, at just 17 years old, participated in the program The X Factor and came out as a member of One Direction –Together with Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Harry Styles–, the boy band most famous of recent times. After several albums, tours and hits, Zayn started his solo career, which you always wanted from the beginning. His incredible voice and his multiple musical influences were to accompany him on this new path.
In the decision there was an artistic need, of course, but also a vital one: I needed the calm that I didn’t have. Thus, he went from media overexposure to doing things his way, openly acknowledging the anxiety caused by the previous stage, and doing everything possible to remain almost invisible. Without tags.
You can always let your shadows guide you and do the things you don’t want to do just because you think that’s what the rest of the world asks of you… But you can also choose and let your light rule. It is very difficult to get rid of the things that one does not want. He has succeeded.
GQ: How has your personal experience of life in quarantine been? Some people have adapted better than others. Are you one of them?
Zayn Malik: I think quarantine has affected me in the same way as everyone else. I am not a person to spend too much time outside the home or outdoors and I like to have my own space, so that is the only advantage, other than that now it is also driving me crazy.
GQ: I was asking because there are many poetic references to nature in the song River Road. Do you prefer life in the country or the big city?
Z.M.: I live well away from the city, so I think that makes it clear …
GQ: On one of your Instagram Live you mentioned that you had been recording original music. Does that mean we can expect a new album soon?
ZM: It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to release a new album soon, but the reality is that I am always working on new music.
GQ: And have you thought about acting during this time? Many of your videos are like little movies …
Z.M.: I’ve always liked acting, so maybe yes, if the role is correct.
GQ: You have often commented that your music is influenced by R&B, rap, reggae and soul. What bands or artists have influenced you the most?
Z.M.: I don’t like to highlight any individual artist or define a genre full by that person. I listen to all kinds of music, all artists, all genres. They all influence me.
GQ: You have done many collaborations with other artists, but which ones would you like to work with that you haven’t been able to yet?
ZM: If I have not worked with them, it is because I don’t want to work with them yet.
GQ: It is surprising to see all the creative ways that you have found to promote your new album, things that we have never seen before and that come directly from you. Has having so much creative control made you feel more accomplished as an artist?
ZM: It is not necessarily about gaining creative control to feel more fulfilled, it’s just something I do as an artist because it’s my true purpose, so I have to.
GQ: We are very curious to know more about the Harry Potter video game project …
They asked me if I liked it Harry Potter and if i wanted to participate in the game. I’ve always been a fan so I said yes and we went from there.
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Zayn Malik: “I have to go against the grain when they tell me to do things in a certain way”