Zayn Malik's Fader Magazine cover and his comments about his former band One Direction in it caused quite a stir. Malik's solo career after leaving the band seemed to be off to a slow start, but then the former boy-bander surprised everyone when he announced dual deals with Turn First Artists management and RCA Records in the span of one week back in July. Simon Cowell, who was the band's mentor during their early days on the X-Factor, wasn't pleased with the interview, and even dissed Malik, referring to him as "rude."
The interview with Fader, published in the December/January issue is not limited to commentary about the band, but it is a glaring beacon. Malik left the band this past March.
"There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band," Malik said to Fader. "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*ck, so they could use that version."
He went on to describe how management had a vision for the band that did not quite fit with his own, and that it was more about selling records than creative freedom.
Malik further 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."
Cowell, who'd signed the band to his record label Syco Records shortly after their stint on the X-Factor, retorted to the Fader Cover comments in an interview with UK publication The Mirror.
"I think once he has had a chance to reflect on everything he will probably reconsider what he's said because it was a very, very democratic process in the band," Cowell said to The Mirror, adding, "It is a bit rude to the people who wrote all the hits with them."
Cowell further said about Malik, "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."
Shortly before the Fader cover was released, Malik's issue was teased with a video of him riding around shirtless in a motorcycle and talking about the influences behind his new music. In the video, Malik says that his influences stem from childhood and cites everything from Bollywood style tunes and '90s R&B songs influenced by his father. The backing track for his first solo song, "Befour," was also playing in the background, layered underneath his commentary.