Press Release

“I’m a very Northern man”: Zayn on Bradford roots and forging his own path in Big Issue exclusive

The singer and Bradford City of Culture ambassador sat down for a chat with this week’s Big Issue, out now.

Cover Portrait: Charlie Chich

In conversation with this week’s Big Issue, out today (Monday 08 April), global pop megastar Zayn speaks exclusively about how his roots have shaped his life and influenced his new music.

Having grown up in the Yorkshire city of Bradford, Zayn Malik shares with the Big Issue how he’s found pride in Northern identity. “I always initially knew how much Bradford had influenced me, even when I came to London.

“I was instantly introduced to many different characters that I had not come across before and quickly realised that my personality and the way I am is very Northern.

“Now as a 31-year-old man, after living in America for ten years, I’ve definitely come to terms with the fact that I’m a very Northern man, which heavily influences my personality and decision-making on a daily basis.”

The interview arrives as Zayn becomes an ambassador for Bradford City of Culture 2025.

Reflecting on his hometown, Zayn shares: “I do remember being really young, probably seven or eight years old, and deciding that I wouldn’t spend my entire life in my hometown. I wanted to do something unique and worthwhile. 

“My original nod towards the start was that I wanted my parents to have a better house. We lived in a rented property our whole upbringing and I wanted to give them a better quality of living.

“So that was the original intent behind it, and then when I got to about 17 or 18, I wanted to forge my own path, write my own story and go out and see the world.”

In this week’s special edition of the Big Issue, Zayn has assembled a range of voices from Bradford to share how the city has also shaped their lives. Contributors include Steven Frayne aka magician Dynamo, award-winning producer and artist Nia Archives as well as teachers, school students, an NHS nurse and more.

Zayn also talks about his new album, out May 17th, Room Under the Stairs, and how his thoughts have turned back to the place he spent his early years before he became famous with One Direction.

His latest single, ‘What I Am’, was released last month. Asked about its message, Zayn said: “I’m reflecting on the way that I approach situations rather than necessarily a correlation to what my original identity is. It’s just growth as a human being. I’m a man, you know; that’s what I’m talking about.”

You can read more from Zayn in this week’s Big Issue magazine, out now, with exclusive portraits taken for the cover and interview. You can find your local vendor to buy a copy, or subscribe online, at bigissue.com.

Zayn’s new album Room Under the Stairs is out 17 May, from Mercury / Republic Records / Island Records UK. 

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