Zayn Malik "knew it was his time" to leave One Direction.
The 'PILLOWTALK' hitmaker felt it was the right decision to depart the chart-topping boy band in March last year and now feels "free at last".
He said: "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 ...
"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."
And the 23-year-old singer admits he was a little nervous about how his young fans would react to his new music and expected them to "freak out".
He added to the summer issue of Dazed magazine: "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.
"It was nerve-racking for me but it worked out for the best, because people started listening to it in a more mature context. The fans took things they liked from it ... and made sure to tell me about things they didn't like, on social media. But just getting it out there was the main thing."
Meanwhile, Zayn previously admitted he was desperate not to be a "one-hit wonder".
He said: "There was a lot of built-up anxiety to create this thing. You don't really know what's going to happen. So when that song [his debut single 'PILLOWTALK'] went out, and I saw the reaction from the fans, that took a little weight off me for a bit. Obviously, there's still a lot of pressure. I don't want to be a one-hit wonder, so I've got a lot of work to do."
See photos related to the article in the gallery below.