Zayn: Solo, fragment

Going to abort this one, it is not going to come out, but here is what I had written so far. You may know by now that Zayn is not seriously a real person, so I suppose this is a fictionalization. It does not represent my own feelings or life experiences.


Zayn: Solo

Being a solo musician was the greatest dream come true, all in an instant. I always wanted my name to be the act and I always wanted to be the one with the attention on me. Getting my first album out there was the experience I’d been waiting for. Writing it had been a process in sharing part of my mind, and seeing it out there, people listening to it, has been an enlightening and a stressful experience. 

I expect a lot out of myself, and I expect my music to really reach out to people, and to make them feel they loved it, loved the track, or loved the album. But sometimes when I’ve written about my own personal feelings, the anxiety that someone might hate what I wrote, or criticize it, or not want to hear any more of my music, it’s difficult to take. For the first time, I felt vulnerable to what people thought. Their opinions were something they didn’t keep in, and they potentially would use them to hurt me. Over time, I’ve learned more strength, to rely on myself for my opinion of myself, but sometimes at first things people said could really get to me.

Having a number one album was exactly what I wanted. But like I was saying people always put a negative spin on things. As a South Asian artist, people were really against me. They didn’t know if I made music that was mainstream enough. They didn’t know if I looked like what the white girls wanted. But I think people saw I had raw talent. In the end they portrayed my album sales as less than expected, underwhelming. But, hey, number one is number one.

Doing interviews, I was scared they would ask me the question, why were you were you sales bad? Well, they weren’t first of all. And second of all, expectations were just so high. And it goes back to what One Direction was about. It was more bubble gummy, more pop music, and being South Asian, I am more into R & B, and Hip Hop. I desired deeply to make my own music, and that way reach fans who the music mattered to. I was prepared to ditch lots of casual listeners, for listeners that would really appreciate the music.

Mostly interviews were nice, and having been in One Direction, they asked about the band over and over. They asked me about how I got along with my band mates, what things were like behind closed doors. And then they asked me about the band mates themselves. They’d ask me how’s Louis, or how do you and Harry get along now? It was all kind of the same stuff, and it was what I wanted to get away from. I wanted to stop having to talk about the band, stop pretending everything was all alright, and just focus on making music. When it’s just me, and the music, no distraction, no arguments. That’s were I wanted to be, and that’s what I wanted to talk about. 

Getting ready for the album the most important thing was the singles. The charts depended in large part on the streaming aspect of things. Music videos were more on Youtube and iTunes than on MTV, so what people saw when they searched for your music would really determine whether A, you got the stream, and B, whether they bought your music. The first single is always the most important. It give listeners a sample of your music, and sets the tone for what your album and you sales are going to be like. Expectations are set around the first single. It’s graded critically and commercially, and then they make projections for your sales.

My first single for Mind of Mine was ‘Pillowtalk’. It is where I met my partner, Gigi Hadid. When I showed up and set, they got me in make up and then I saw who they had hired. I was really taken aback, and I was excited to shoot the music video with her. How the video was scripted, how close we had to get to each other, how intimate we had to act, we really were feeling in a situation were we could feel attracted to one another, and get to know what each other are like, really quickly. Sort of from that music video shoot onwards, I was basically in love with her. 

After the shoot, we hung out. We went for coffee and as we sat down together, I got to know her personality after we’d been all close and intimate together. She was really sweet, and she always wanted to be funny. At that point she was just an up-and-coming model, and not the limelight magnet she became later on. 

After that we kept seeing each other. Pretty much right away people were photographing us, and it felt like not a normal relationship, but kind of one set apart from others. At first, I thought maybe I liked the attention, or I’d be able to deal with it, but as time went by, I wasn’t sure I did like it. 

Ch 2. 

Starting to perform solo was difficult. At X Factor auditions, I wasn’t as skilled a performer as I was when by the time I started a solo career, but I experienced some of the same emotions. I felt like I could screw up, and I felt like maybe I wasn’t good enough to really perform at the highest level. Starting as an independent act, my singing had to be a lot better than when I had just been auditioning. During each show I performed, I could feel anxiety now and again, feeling like maybe I might screw up, and anytime I almost missed a note, or if my singing was just off, I hated myself for it, and after that I could feel that anxiety, like I might screw up again, and if I kept screwing up, people might really notice, and call me out.

I guess that’s the thing, is that you aren’t just practicing, or performing for two or three people, but for large audiences. Staring out and 20,000 or 30,000 fans, it is hard not to be full of emotion, and it is really hard to feel you are not going to screw up. Even during my first set of shows, I felt I might need lots of time off, to recover emotionally, and to try and be completely ready for each live show. 

So when you’re getting nervous out there, and you are afraid you might choke up, you start to think about how long you can be on tour, and what’s going to happen if things stay the exact same.

Shortly after my first tour, I started postponing and cancelling tour dates, and eventually I have been just a recording artist, writing and recording songs, and making albums, but not performing them live.

Things around that time were hectic in other ways too, and looking back, that contributed to my levels of anxiety. All of the sudden I was in a relationship were the other person wanted to talk most of the day, and meanwhile I had a manager and an agent that wanted to talk all the day. Sometimes I felt like all the lovey-dovey stuff was a bit much, and I didn’t want to make the effort now and again. And my manager and agent were sounding just like the people in one direction I didn’t want to work with anymore. Everything with them was about sales and sales, and me having to market everything. It hadn’t been about the music, there hadn’t been any of the good stuff in it at all. 

But on the relationship side, sometimes I really cherished Gigi, and I felt the best sometimes just being alone with her, away from the public. That aspect of it, people watching you all the time while you’re out, and they have their cameras flashing and things, you can’t really relax. It wears you down, and you feel you haven’t had enough time to be yourself. 

That was the part that was most stressful in the relationship. She wanted to be in the limelight, be on camera 24/7, and I couldn’t wait to get away from them. It wasn’t what I wanted, for people to like me just for being someone in the spotlight, that’s not how I wanted it to go at all. As an artist, the art mattered, the attention aspect hadn’t really mattered to me.


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