In an interview with The Sun newspaper in the U.K. on Friday, the 22-year-old said that the past week – which saw him leave the band’s tour, return home to London and subsequently quit the band – has left him “feeling quite interesting.”
But he doesn’t regret making the decision to walk away from the biggest boy band in the world.
“It is crazy and wild and a bit mad,” he admitted in an interview conducted Thursday. “But at the same time I’ve never felt more in control in my life. And I feel like I’m doing what’s right – right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good.”
Malik, who quit One Direction’s tour amid rumors that he was cheating on his fiancée Perrie Edwards, said that they are still together and that she is “very supportive” of his decision.
He also said that reports suggesting that he left because of tension between him and his bandmates – Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan – “couldn’t be more wrong.”
“My band has been really supportive. They’ve been cool about it,” he said. “And they understand that, you know, it’s not real to me anymore.”
Malik hinted that he’d wanted out of the band for a while, saying, “I did try to do something that I wasn’t happy doing for a while, for the sake of other people’s happiness.”
But now, he’s looking forward to what lies ahead. Malik was spotted heading into a recording studio the day after he announced he was leaving One Direction, and told the newspaper that he’s been working on his own music for some time. The singer’s recording his first solo release with producer Naughty Boy, who has worked with Emeli Sandé and Sam Smith, and is even experimenting with rapping.
He does worry about breaking hundreds of teenage hearts around the world.
“I feel like I’ve let the fans down but I can’t do this anymore,” he said, adding, “It’s not that I’ve turned my back on them or anything, it’s just that I just can’t do that anymore because it’s not the real me.”