Zayn Malik never wanted to be in a band.
But when the opportunity to be a part of One Direction came in 2010 on U.K.'s The X Factor, the now solo artist knew he had to take it.
"I think I always wanted to go, from the first year, really," Malik, 23, said of wanting to leave 1D. "I never really wanted to be there in the band, I just gave it a go because it was there at the time."
In a new interview with Beats 1 Radio's Zane Lowe, the singer explains his decision to separate himself from former bandmates Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson almost a year later.
"When I realized the direction we were going in, mind the pun, with the music, I instantly realized it wasn't for me because I couldn't put any input in," Malik continued.
His frustrations with being unable to create music his way ultimately was the reason Malik quit the band.
"I had to start thinking about myself," he added, "I was always writing anyway even when I was in the band... I always knew."
Currently, Malik is gearing up for the release of his first solo single, "Pillowtalk," scheduled for a Jan. 29 release. While he no longer keeps in contact with many of the 1D lads, they all encouraged Malik to stay at one time or another.
"I think the boys kind of knew – in terms of the music – that wasn't my cup of tea," he explained. "They obviously didn't want me to leave, but they couldn't talk me out of it at that point. I'd already made my mind up."
Amid their hiatus, One Direction recently released the official video for their song "History," and the emotional footage pays tribute to the band's five-year journey – including their days as a quintet.
Malik's full interview airs Thursday at 9 a.m. ET on Apple Music's Beats 1 Radio.