Zayn Malik, Dazed

Collier Schorr for Dazed

No one really knew what to expect out of Zayn Malik after he left One Direction and subsequently broke a million teenage hearts around the world. Even he admits to being a concerned over fans' acceptance of him in his post-boy band days.

Well, if the success of his first solo album is any indication of their approval, it's looking like Zayn's going to be alright.

The 23-year-old singer opens up to Dazed magazine about leaving the group and diving into uncharted waters on his own. 

"I didn't know what to expect," he admitted. "I wanted to make that statement, that this was something completely separate from whatever was out there before. I kind of expected the fans that followed me before to be a bit freaked out by it. It was nerve-racking for me."

Zayn Malik, Dazed

Collier Schorr for Dazed

He continued, "But it worked out for the best because people started listening to it in a more mature context. The fans took things they liked from it...and made sure to tell me about things they didn't like, on social media. But just getting it out there was the main thing."

He understands how the industry works, and more often than not, musicians are placed in one category and rarely move. He knew it would take something spectacular to take him out of the "boy band" realm and into his own persona.

"I know that musicians are seen as one-sided people a lot of the time," he told Dazed. "But we do have other elements to us as well. I didn't feel good [in 1D]. Do you know what I mean? And if you don't feel good…" His voice trailed off and he took a drag from a cigarette. "You need to be able to express what it is that you are. I'm free at last."

Zayn Malik, Dazed

Collier Schorr for Dazed

The world can definitely see that now, though it took some time to get over his 2015 split from 1D. Today, Gigi Hadid's beau even getting reinforcement from some of the biggest names in the music world.

Case in point: Taylor Swift.

"I don't get much feedback from my peers. I spoke a bit to Taylor," he revealed. "At Gigi's house we briefly spoke and she told me she really enjoyed the album. It was nice to get some feedback. She said she thought I was cool and I kind of blushed a bit and didn't know how to take it."

We'd all be more than just blushing if T.Swift gave us a compliment, but this type of realness is what keeps Zayn sane.

"I'm just staying the way that I am. I think that's the best way to keep your sanity," he explained. "You've got to hold on to what you are and not let things get to your head, because if you do, that's when everything comes crashing down terribly."

Read more from his Dazed interview here.

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