Zayn Malik cut all remaining musical ties to One Direction with the release of his first solo album Mind of Mine last week (March 25). It's a significant departure from his previous pop recordings, with a heavy R&B lean that references more of Zayn's personal taste in music, which includes artists like Prince, R. Kelly and Usher.

"I think there's all kinds of underlying different things I took from each of them over time, listening to their music and playing some songs 50 times over on repeat," he said in a new interview with Spotify. "You kind of pick up certain things like the way you might pronounce a certain letter or phrase or whatever, but nothing, like, copycatted."

Zayn was able to draw upon these influences while working on the album with producer Malay, who's most well known for his work on Frank Ocean's critically acclaimed release Channel Orange.

"[Malay]'s a really cool guy, he's really musically gifted in every sense. He just knows everything there is to know about everything — and he likes to tell you everything that he knows about everything. And he's a fun guy," Zayn said. "He loves music, and he's all about getting the real perspective of the artist and the genuineness of the moment and he doesn't like to record things 50 times over. He just kind of gets it there when it's happening, and that's something that's quite rare that you find."

Malay had similarly positive things to say about Zayn during a recent cover story for Billboard.

"We went camping for a week in the Angeles Forest — set up a generator and a tent so we could track in the woods,” Malay said of the recording process. “It was the complete opposite of what he’d been doing. We had the gas grill, BB guns, bows and arrows. It was a sh—tin’-in-the-woods-type thing.”

Watch Zayn's full Spotify interview in the video above.

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