In his cover story for Fader magazine’s December/January issue, Malik said that his departure was due, in part, to the band – himself, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson – having little say in their own music.
“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band,” said Malik.
“If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f—, so they could use that version,” he continued. “Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us.
“There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling,” he said. “I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people. As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about.”
On Sunday, Cowell, whose record label SyCo had signed the band, countered the 22-year-old’s claims in a interview with The Mirror, saying that creating the band’s songs was a “very, very democratic process.
“It is a bit rude to the people who wrote all the hits with them,” he said. “And to the other band members. I mean they all wrote a lot of the stuff.”
Malik does have co-songwriting credits on 11 of One Direction’s songs. Meanwhile, Horan is credited with co-writing seven songs, Styles with 24, Payne with 36 and Tomlinson with 38.
Malik left the band in March. While the news dominated headlines, Cowell said he hasn’t thought about Malik’s departure much since then.
“As soon as he left we sorted him out with a label who really were enthusiastic about him and then my loyalty was back with the boys,” Cowell said.