The 22-year-old singer, who cited “stress” as the reason he quit the popular boy band, was spotted visiting a recording studio in West London on Thursday, prompting people to speculate that he could be working on launching a solo career. He has been working with producer Naughty Boy (who has previously worked with Sam Smith) since at least last year.
In an interview with The Sun, Malik confirmed that he was working on new music (which also includes trying “a range of new sounds,” including rapping) but that he isn’t in a rush to release anything just yet.
“I’m just going to chill man,” he told the newspaper. “I’m just going to be me for a while.”
Last July, Naughty Boy told The Independent that he was “really impressed” by Malik’s writing ability when they were working on creating new songs for One Direction.
The band’s contract reportedly has a “leaving member” clause, according the Billboard, that allows the group to remain a foursome – and allows the band’s label to keep Malik on contract as a solo artist. (Reps for Columbia and Syco had no comment.)
Malik hinted in his interview with The Sun that he might be ready to move past One Direction’s current sound.
“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.”