'That wasn't my cup of tea,' the singer admits to the Beats 1 Radio host

Before the release of his first solo single “Pillowtalk,” Zayn Malik sat down with Beats 1 Radio’s Zane Lowe to talk about why he decided to leave One Direction almost a year ago.

“I think I always kind of wanted to go, from the first year, really,” Malik tells Lowe. “I never really wanted to be there in the band, I just gave it a go because it was there at the time.”

But 23-year-old Englishman “instantly realized” the group wasn’t for him when he felt unable to contribute musically. “I realized I couldn’t put any input in,” Malik says. “I couldn’t give my opinion on this or that because it didn’t fit the grain of what we were or what we represented.”

So Malik continued writing on his own, and says his bandmates attempted to make it so he felt more satisfied creatively. “I think the boys kind of knew — in terms of the music — that wasn’t my cup of tea,” the singer admits. But when it came time to talk to Harry, Liam, Louis, and Niall about exiting the world’s most popular boy band, none of the guys attempted to sway his decision.

“They obviously didn’t want me to leave, but they couldn’t talk me out of it at that point,” Malik says. “I’d already made my mind up.”

Watch Malik discuss his departure with Lowe in his first broadcast interview since the breakup here:

The full interview airs Thursday at 12 p.m. ET on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio.