It's been nearly a year since Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction, and now that he's flying solo, the 23-year-old singer is speaking out about the "restrictions" he claims to have agreed to while in the boy band.
Malik alleges in an interview withComplex magazine that his bandmates were not permitted to "come outside of that young teen boy look" when it came to their appearance. "Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn't allowed to keep it," he recalls. "Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them."
Malik adds that being in control of his look is just another perk of launching a solo career. "That's one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard," he says. "I also wanted to dye my hair when I was in the band, but I wasn't allowed to."
As for why he ultimately chose to leave One Direction, Malik says it had a lot to do with being true to himself. "It was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it," he explains. "That was always there. It was one of the things that wasn't going to go away, so I had to go away."
Malik's first solo studio album, Mind of Mine, comes out March 25 -- the anniversary of when he left 1D -- and he insists that the new songs are "massively different" than the music he did with the boy band. "There's so many extra emotions tied into it because it's a personal song," Malik says of releasing his first single, "Pillowtalk," earlier this year. "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."
In the spirit of keeping his music "personal," Malik also hired his real-life girlfriend, model Gigi Hadid, to be the leading lady in the music video for "Pillowtalk." While he says he tries to keep his personal and professional life "separate," he does admit that it was pretty easy working (and making out) with Hadid on set. "We were just messing around. It wasn't even, like, part of the shoot," he says of their super sexy scenes. "You know when they say, 'action?' They didn't do that. It was just rolling."