Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid, who share 2-year-old daughter Khai, broke up in late 2021 amid reports he'd gotten into an argument with her mom Yolanda Hadid at the Pennsylvania home he shared with the model. According to a police report obtained by E! News that year, Zayn was accused of acting with "intent to harass, annoy or alarm" Gigi (who was not present) and Yolanda, while allegedly communicating "lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words." At the time, Zayn denied the accusations and issued a statement, saying in part that he remained "vigilant" in protecting their daughter by giving her "the privacy she deserves."
Nearly two years later, the singer stands by his statement.
"I knew what the situation was, I knew what happened and the people involved knew what happened too," he told Call Her Daddy host Alex Cooper. "And that's all I really cared about. If anybody of the same mind would look at the situation, I believe that you could respect that I just didn't want to bring attention to anything. I just wasn't trying to get into a negative back and forth with her—any sort of narrative online where my daughter was going to look back and be able to read into it and it would just be something, there was no point."
As Zayn explained, he believes he dealt with the situation "in an amicable, respectful way."
"And that's all that needs to be said," he continued. "I just I feel like it's a lot of negativity."
The One Direction alum also discussed the importance of keeping personal issues private. "If something happens in the family, like I'd rather keep that between the family," he shared. "You don't need a whole audience of people and opinions because it's hard enough to manage between two."
As for his co-parenting relationship with his ex, Zayn noted that he and Gigi have a "really good" bond, confirming that he has 50 percent custody.
"I'm super full on, hands on with my child every chance I can be," he explained. "If I could get 60 percent, I would have it."
To say One Direction was huge when they debuted as a group in 2010 would be a bit of an understatement. In fact, as Zayn recalled, everything for him and fellow bandmates Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson changed within an instant.
"It was kind of strange, the visual evidence of life changing like people being outside of the studio and stuff," he said. "When we were in the live shows, we started to get a fan base and an audience, you could see that people paying interest in us. From that point on, it was kind of a bit crazy."
So much so that Zayn now realizes that he didn't take it all in at first.
"I don't I comprehended it at all," he said of the sudden fame. "It was a rush, it was fun and then repetitive fun over and over again and eventually it's going to take its toll."
When Zayn left One Direction in 2015, he felt it was simply time for a change in direction.
"There was a lot of—look I don't want to go into too much detail, but there was a lot of politics going on," he said of the group. "Certain people were doing certain things, certain people didn't want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening, so I just got ahead of the curve. I was like, ‘I'm just going to get out of here. I think this is done.'...I completely selfishly wanted to be the first person to go and make my own record, if I'm being completely honest with you. I was like, 'I'm going to jump the gun here for the first time.'"
Noting that he usually thinks of himself as a "passive dude," Zayn admitted he takes a different approach when it comes to music.
"I'm serious about it and I'm competitive, so I wanted to be the first to go and do my own thing," he continued. "That was the reason—and then there was obviously underlying issues, like within our friendships too."
As Zayn explained, it was just a matter of growing pains. "We've been together every day for five years and we've got sick of each other, if I'm being completely honest," he added. "We were close. We done crazy things with each other that nobody else in the world will ever understand or have those experiences that we've shared with each other, and I look back on it now in a much fonder light than I would've as I just left. There were great experiences, I had great times with them, but yeah, we just run our course."
Zayn's recent interview marks his first major sit-down in six years, and as the "Flames" performer revealed, his step back was a much-need break after being part of such a well-known group.
"I think that's why I've took the time I have to not even necessarily do interviews and do too much press exposure because I feel like we were so overexposed in the band that it takes a bit of time for you naturally to progress as a human," he said, "and give something else that is interesting that you have to say."As he put it, "You don't want to be sat there just saying the same s--t on repeat, you know? I mean day in, day out, like, I think this should be a good healthy break in between—and that was my approach to it. I feel like in terms of figuring out what your identity is as an artist, the only way you're going to do that is by living."
Zayn shared that he suffers from anxiety, especially when it comes to performing in front of thousands of fans. But he's found a new sense of bravery since being becoming a dad.
"For me, since I've had my daughter, since she was born, the main thing in my mind is trying to be a good example to her, in terms of—I can do things," he shared. "I can achieve things and I can overcome things and you could do this too. And to let things like a feeling stop you from doing that, after having a child, feels like a really small thing."
As he noted, "I used to get a lot of anxiety around having a conversation and I want her to be able to look at me be like, ‘My dad's doing this, he's the man. He's cool.'"
"When I'm with her, I don't work like at all," he shared. "I just spend a full day with her doing things that she wants to do. We just have fun and I feel like I've like rekindled my own childhood through her. I feel like we get to a certain point in in adult life where everything's kind of vague and gray and boring and she's brought that color back for me for sure."
For Zayn, a quiet place to call home is what makes life beautiful.
"It's interesting," he said. "I ended up coming out here with my ex a bit, and I fell in love with it. It was just super calm and chill. And I just wanted to like take a break from like the busy city because I was living in New York for three years at the time and it just got a bit overwhelming."
The "Dusk Till Dawn" singer revealed his forthcoming album will feature a sweet source of inspiration.
"I'm doing a record I don't think people are really going to expect," Zayn teased. "It's a different sound for me and it's got some more narrative going on, like real life experiences and stuff. So, yeah, my daughter's mentioned in there a couple of times."