In his first interview since the announcement, Malik tells The Sun (as reported by People) the past few days have been "crazy and wild and a bit mad. 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."
The singer also took the opportunity to shut down rumors that he left due to tension between his bandmates. "My band has been really supportive. They've been cool about it," he says. "And they understand that, you know, it's not real to me anymore."
"I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while, for the sake of other people's happiness," he adds.
Malik, who almost exclusively listened to hip-hop and R&B before joining the pop group on The X Factor, is now working on his first solo album. He has enlisted the help of producer Naughty Boy, who has worked with Sam Smith, for the project, which might feature Malik's first attempts at rapping.
"I feel like I've let the fans down, but I can't do this anymore," Malik says. "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."
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