Former One Direction singer Liam Payne is following the footsteps of his colleagues Niall Horan, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson by unveiling his very own debut solo single, "Strip That Down," on Friday.
The R&B-tinged song, which was co-penned by Ed Sheeran and features a guest verse from Migos' Quavo, includes the One Direction namecheck, "You know that I used to be in 1D/ Now I'm out free," which some fans are interpreting as a diss to his boy bander roots and his official resignation from the group. On the morning of the track's release, Payne called On Air with Ryan Seacrest to clarify that the lyric is not intended to shade his former bandmates.
"That's never to be taken in a negative sense!" He explained. "It's more a sense of that we're all free now to do our own little thing in music and have our each little musical journey just to see where it takes us, and it's exciting -- super exciting!"
Despite One Direction's indefinite hiatus and everyone's individual focus to make a solo name for themselves, Payne said the boys are still in communication and are very supportive of each other's work. "Everyone will be like, 'Good jam man! Nice jam! That's a good one!'" he said. "When 'Slow Hands' came out, I hit Niall up like, 'Smooth, smooth!' He's doing well with that."
On Horan's performance at KIIS FM's Wango Tango last week, during which he played "Slow Hands," "This Town," and his take on Martin Garrix's Dua Lipa-assisted "Scared To Be Lonely," Payne praised, "I was really proud to see him on stage actually. It was a proud moment for me to see him take that and own that. It's nice and I think he played really well."
"Strip That Down" is the first track lifted from his as-yet-untitled debut studio album. Payne currently has 30 songs that reflects his assorted taste, ranging from hip-hop to EDM. "Sound-wise, it's a real mixed bag, it's very eclectic because I just love music," he teased. "The way I'm describing it to everybody is, it's like my own special playlist of secret songs that I've had in the past year. They're all my favorites. Some I've written and some I've been sent, but there's some dance tracks on there, some slow jams, there's some R&B, there's some hip-hop stuff. It's a real variety."
When Payne is not working on new music or supporting his colleagues, he is switching his focus to being a father to his son, Bear Payne, with girlfriend Cheryl Cole, who he met on The X Factor in 2008. In a radio interview earlier this week, he referred to Cole as his wife, which sparked speculations that the two secretly tied the knot. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
"I call my girlfriend my wife in the sense that she is the mother of my child, so we're closer than close," he explained. "I just call her my wife; she's my wife, she's my closest partner, she's my best friend. I just say it as it is. She's my missus. It's a very British thing, too."
You can purchase Payne's "Strip That Down" on iTunes here.