In a November chat with The Fader, Malik explained that one of the reasons he left One Direction was creative restraint within the band, noting that he "wasn't 100 percent behind the music."
"As much as I was in that band, and I loved everything that we did, that's not music that I would listen to," Malik said. "I want to make music that I think is cool shit."
"I think once he has had a chance to reflect on everything, he will probably reconsider what he's said because it was a very, very democratic process in the band," said Cowell, who helped form One Direction on X Factor.
By Malik's account, One Direction songs often arrived pre-packaged for the band and there was little room to maneuver while recording. Malik said that if he sang a hook or verse with an R&B tinge, he would be asked to re-record it "until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as fuck, so they could use that version."
Cowell replied, "It is a bit rude to the people who wrote all the hits with them. And to the other band members. I mean, they all wrote a lot of the stuff."
Cowell, however, added that he has not spent too much time wringing his hands over Malik since the singer's departure from One Direction in March. Though the music mogul abetted Malik's transition to a new label, RCA Records — who expect to release Malik's solo debut next year — he quickly returned his attention to One Direction, who released their final album, Made in the A.M., in November.
"To be honest, I don't even think about it too much because as soon as he left, we sorted him out with a label who really were enthusiastic about him and then my loyalty was back with the boys," Cowell said. "They had no warning. Not that they needed me, but I wanted to show that I was there for them and that they could continue without him — and they did."
In the runup to Made in the A.M., One Direction announced that they would not tour in support of the record and would take a "well-earned break" after five records and as many years of touring. Despite the hiatus, One Direction insisted they were not breaking up.