Zayn Malik’s Heartbreaking Interview Resurfaces 9 Years After He Left One Direction

25 March 2024, 10:35 | Updated: 25 March 2024, 11:00

Zayn left One Direction in 2015
Zayn left One Direction in 2015. Picture: Getty
Capital FM

By Capital FM

It’s been nine years since Zayn left One Direction and one of his old interviews about his time in the band has resurfaced to remind us all why it was for the best.

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At the start of 2010, Zayn Malik was just a normal 17-year-old kid who went to audition for X-Factor as a solo RnB artist alongside Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan.

By the end of 2010, he found himself part of what was going to be one of the biggest boy bands of our generation, One Direction.

Five years later, in 2015, the pressure and fame got too overwhelming for Zayn and he officially left the band.

Whilst hearts were broken across the world at the loss of their favourite musician, Zayn interviewed in 2016 where he candidly opened up about what he struggled with during his time with the band.

The dark day was on the 25th of March, 2015, when the band’s official Facebook account posted the message.“After five incredible years, Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction."

Zayn dispelled rumours about his 'breakdown' in a 2016 interview
Zayn dispelled rumours about his 'breakdown' in a 2016 interview. Picture: Getty

"Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.”

It left a bad taste in fans' mouths as the message of Zayn leaving was sad news, yet they were still promoting upcoming tours and albums.

However, in the post, they added a supposed quote from Zayn himself that read, “My life with One Direction has been more than I could have ever imagined.”

“But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologise to the band if I’ve let anyone down. But I have to do what feels right in my heart.”

“I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”

Zayn's recently re-emerged into the spotlight with a new album releasing in May 2024
Zayn's recently re-emerged into the spotlight with a new album releasing in May 2024. Picture: Getty

However, when speaking to The Standard over a year later, Zayn revealed the truth. "I’m going to ask you a question now,” Zayn asked the interviewer. “Do you think I wrote that? Like, look how it’s worded. I’m not a 35-year-old lawyer. I don’t write like that.”

Zayn revealed that whilst the rumours at the time were that he had ‘self-destructed’ or ‘had a breakdown’ it wasn’t that dramatic but everything, down to his leaving, was managed to a tee.

Whilst it’s not uncommon for teams to draft up these sorts of messages, Zayn seemed to be hinting that One Direction’s management team took over quite a lot of their lives.

He spoke to the interviewer about how whilst there was no real one-off ‘breakdown,’ his mental health had declined and he felt it was a “numbing, miserable flat-line.”

One Direction formed during The X Factor in 2010
One Direction formed during The X Factor in 2010. Picture: Getty

Zayn revealed that the band’s days were so structured “so that you didn’t have time to think because you were concentrating so hard on work. I lost my bearings of what time it was, sometimes, what day it was.”

“It was just a continuous struggle because I was hurried into a situation that I didn’t necessarily want to be in. Obviously, I had to stop feeling like that. So one day I stopped being in the band.”

And he was right, One Direction's rise to fame was almost unheard of in its speed. There was the magic of timing, place and luck that had been sprinkled on the boys during their separate X Factor auditions which resulted in them leaving for the show and essentially never coming home.

Zayn's time in One Direction led to the development of an anxiety disorder
Zayn's time in One Direction led to the development of an anxiety disorder. Picture: Getty

Year after year of constant touring only to be followed by new album releases. The cycle went on for over five years and this would have worn down anyone.

In the interview, Zayn wanted to express just how little he understood what he was signing up for at the time, when he was that young.

“I was very ignorant at 17, blind beyond my years. I thought going on X Factor meant you won a million pounds and got a contract at the end of it. And I was like: ‘Shit. All my problems are solved. I win a million pounds and that’s it. Simple.’ But you don’t think about everything else that goes with it. You’re only 17, your dreams are immature. You see what you want.”

When asked what advice he would have given his younger self, he replied, “Don’t do it… I would say: ‘Do your research and be a bit more prepared about certain situations before you make a decision.’”

“But I probably wouldn’t have [signed], I would’ve waited a couple more extra years. Just so I had that time to just get my head around being a famous person. I’ve never been able to have, what’s the word? Anonymity…If I could go back, I’d have a few more years of anonymity.”

It’s heartbreaking to hear that if he could have turned back time, Zayn would have chosen not to sign with the band. And whilst it’s hard to imagine that Zayn would trade half a decade of being one of the most famous people on the planet, that level of fame led to him developing an anxiety disorder.

He spoke to the interviewer about how he began to feel a chronic fear of letting people around him down.

Zayn shares teaser for new album

“I want people to see the good side to me and, yeah, the emotional stress of maybe not fulfilling that is a lot sometimes… Anxiety is something people don’t necessarily want to advertise because it’s seen, in a way, like a weakness"

"I speak about it so that people understand that it doesn’t matter what level of success you have, where you’re from, who you are, what sex you are, what you do, you can still experience these things.”

“For me to pretend that I didn’t have anxiety would be fake. It also helps people understand why I behave in a certain way. Sometimes things get in the way of us doing exactly what we want. I never mean to offend. It’s an uncontrollable thing that I can’t do anything about.”

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