The singer was a guest on the latest episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast with Alex Cooper, and he opened up about his quiet life in Pennsylvania with his two-year-old daughter, Khai. Malik also spoke about his pets—he has three cats, three dogs, and a lot of chickens—as well as his love of Wawa and how being a father has changed him as a person.
“Since I’ve had my daughter, the main thing [on] my mind is trying to be a good example for her,” he said. “That’s why I’m even doing this interview. I used to get a lot of anxiety around having a conversation like this, and I want her to look at me and be like, ‘Yo, my dad’s doing this!’” He added that being a father makes him feel like he has to “step up.”
Malik shared a home at the Hadid family estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his ex and mother of his child, Gigi Hadid. Still, he moved out after their relationship ended in 2021 following an alleged physical altercation between Malik and Hadid’s mother, former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Hadid. Malik moved nearby, however, so he could be close to his daughter.
“I knew what happened and the people involved knew what happened too, and that’s all I really cared about,” Malik told Cooper of the alleged incident. “I just didn’t want to bring attention to anything. I just wasn’t trying to get into a negative back-and-forth with her, any sort of narrative online where my daughter was gonna look back and read that. If something happens in the family, I’d rather keep that between the family; you don’t need a whole audience of people.”
As for why he left One Direction. “I completely selfishly wanted to be the first person to go and make my own record. If I’m being completely honest with you, I was like, ‘I’m going to jump the gun here,’” Malik said. “I’m a passive dude, but when it comes to my music and my business, I’m serious about it and I’m competitive, so I wanted to be the first to go and do my own thing. That was the reason.”
Malik left One Direction during their 2015 tour, citing stress as the reason.
“There was obviously underlying issues within our friendships, too. We’d got sick of each other, if I’m being completely honest,” Malik added.
“We were close… we’d done crazy things with each other that nobody else in the world will ever understand and I look back on it now in a much fonder light,” Malik added. “There were great experiences, I had great times with them, but we’d just run our course.”