Zayn Malik "never felt like he belonged" in One Direction.
The 23-year-old singer quit the group - who were put together on 'The X Factor' in 2010 - last March but admits he didn't have to make a big decision to leave because he always had underlying doubts about what he was doing.
He said: "When I decided to leave, it wasn't a big build up, it had always been underlying. I never felt like I belonged in the group, I was just doing it because at the time, I felt like it was the right place for me to be."
And Zayn claims he always "distanced" himself from the group's music because he never felt he was being true to himself.
He told Italy's Vogue magazine: "To be honest, I mentally and physically distanced myself from what I was doing creatively because I didn't want any part of it really. It didn't feel like I was really being me."
These days, the hunky star is busy working on his debut solo album and relishing every second in the studio.
He said: "Now that I can really be myself and make music that feels honest to me, it doesn't feel like work. It really is relaxing to me."
Asked if there'll be any collaborations on the record, he added: "I just want this album to be about me and me standing on my own two feet. I've sung with four other voices for over four years now so I want to hear myself, alone for once".