London: Singer Zayn Malik, who quit One Direction early last year, says he "knew it was his time" to depart the chart-topping boy band.
The "Pillowtalk" hitmaker felt it was the right decision and now feels "free at last", reports femalefirst.co.uk.
"I just knew it was my time. I knew I wanted to do something different and start expressing the way I felt about certain things," Malik told Dazed magazine.
"I know that musicians are seen as one-sided people a lot of the time. But we do have other elements to us as well. I didn't feel good. Do you know what I mean? And if you don't feel good... You need to be able to express what it is that you are. I'm free at last," he added.
The 23-year-old singer was a little nervous about how his young fans would react to his new music and expected them to "freak out".
"I didn't know what to expect. 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," Malik said.
"It was nerve-wracking for me but it worked out for the best, because people started listening to it in a more mature context," he added.