Liam Payne is officially on the solo-music scene.
The former One Direction member debuted his first single “Strip That Down” Friday morning, chatting to BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw on The Radio 1 Breakfast Show about his new musical ventures and life at home.
Payne, 23, and his girlfriend Cheryl welcomed their first child, son Bear Grey, in March. And up until now, the singer hasn’t spoken too heavily about the couple’s relationship — or their 10-year age difference — when asked.
But when Grimshaw jokes that the singer is “still, like, 12” while talking about how much career potential Payne still has ahead of him, the latter replies with a laugh about his 33-year-old love, “[Cheryl]’s going to be really offended that you called me 12.”
RELATED VIDEO: Liam Payne and Cheryl Welcome a Son
When Grimshaw approached the subject of the couple meeting when Payne first appeared on The X Factor at age 14, he replied, “We don’t like to talk about that” before quickly changing gears and promising the host they could talk about it in private.
The new solo artist did touch briefly on his life as a father (“I’m proper dadding out all the time”), saying that having a baby was “a pretty mad bit about the year” and revealing that he has shared parenting tips with fellow new dad Russell Brand, whom he shared a recent flight with.
“Everybody downloads one app that is like, the put-the-baby-to-sleep app,” Payne says. “For us, it’s the hair-dryer sound. Every individual baby has their own little noise [preference] — ‘Oh, we like Ocean Tide number 11,’ or whatever it is. So it’s like an album going around of baby sleeping noises.”
“You should make an album of that,” Grimshaw says, with Payne joking in reply, “That’s what I was going for with this [song].”
The singer shared in a Thursday interview with The Sun that his friends teased him after he met the Girls Aloud alum for the first time, whom he “always, always had a crush on” and famously gave a wink to at the end of his X Factor audition.
“I got back to school the next day and when my friends saw it they were literally ripping the piss out of me. Now they can’t say it didn’t work,” he said, joking, “The wink is powerful, it has powers beyond its own means. I have to be careful — it’s a licensed weapon in the UK.”
Payne further divulged to The Sun that there is a song on his upcoming album about a time when Cheryl was thinking about ending the relationship, calling the tune’s inspiration, “basically a phone call that happened between me and her when she was about to let it go.”
“This is a long time ago. And it’s basically me trying to cling on and say, ‘No, no, no it’s all going to work out, don’t worry about it, give it time,’ ” he explained.
My close friends and family know there are very few times when I'm left speechless… wow! I'm incredibly happy to welcome our new baby boy into the world, it's a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life and my favourite memory I have so far. I'm completely in awe of his incredible mother and how she has been the whole way through this, she's really made my dreams come true. We haven't named him yet but he's already capturing hearts including mine. I feel very blessed. Happy Mother's Day everyone!
FROM PEN: EW Staffers Pick Their Least Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2016
The duo have obviously come a long way from those days, with a relationship Payne called “amazing” and a new little boy — whom the new dad let Cheryl name for one very good reason.
“I said to her, ‘Look, you gave birth to him, at the end of the day you carried him around for nine months, I think you have the right to choose the name,’ ” Payne told The Sun, adding of Bear’s nickname, “We do we call him Cub sometimes. It is true, which makes me daddy Bear and we all eat porridge in the morning and mine’s too soft!”
And how is Cheryl’s support when it comes to her beau’s new solo-music journey? “Obviously I’ve just started being a dad and also I’m promoting my single and she gives me no bother about it,” Payne continued.
“She’s like, ‘You’ve got to go out and do your job, do your job.’ That’s how she is with it, and Bear’s beautiful and I love him and I miss him terribly.”
Marriage may not be on the table for the couple anytime soon or ever — “I see marriage as more of a religious thing and I’m not really a religious person,” Payne said — but he insists it’s not what’s important.
“We have a baby together — you know, our love for each other can’t be more serious, so it is what it is I guess,” he told The Sun.
“Strip That Down,” co-written by Ed Sheeran and featuring Quavo, is available now.