Zayn Malik recorded new song Intermission: Flower in Urdu while relaxing by a Beverly Hills hotel pool as a tribute to his dad.
The former One Direction star was working with songwriter and producer Malay in Los Angeles when he came up with the idea of honoring his hard-working father by singing a track in Urdu - just like dad's favorite artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Zayn reveals all in his new autobiography and in an excerpt obtained by RollingStone.com, he writes: "One day when I was working with Malay, we got to talking about my dad. I was telling Malay about my relationship with him and how important it was for me to do well for him, to earn his approval. My dad's a hard worker and he has strong values... He used to go on at me all the time about being a good student and getting the right education. He wanted the best for me, and I wanted to please him in return...
"I wanted to show him, as much as everyone else, that I could do it, and once the tracks started coming together with Malay and a number of other producers I'd been working with, I began to feel that I was really able to express myself vocally and I hoped my parents were going to see it from my side."
Then came the inspiration for the Flower track, while Malik and Malay were chilling out one afternoon.
"(We were) sitting around the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, writing down lyrics and messing about with melodies," he recalls. "Malay had his portable recording rig with him and the pair of us were talking about the Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I was really into him, because my dad had played his music a lot at home; I loved that the dude sang in Urdu, for one thing.
"A lot of people who know his music reckon he was one of the greatest artists of all time... As we were chatting, Malay... began playing a little riff, based on an idea I'd shown him earlier that day... He added a few twists and, immediately, it sounded amazing.
"I was like, 'Man, this is so cool. We should record some of this. And I think I want to sing this one in Urdu, like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan'."
And the setting was perfect for the tribute tune: "Malay set up the mic by the pool. There was a little waterfall nearby that was rippling away, and it really added to the atmosphere. I knew that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's music came from a spiritual place, and it was also almost like jazz... I was just riffing lyrics in Urdu over Malay's lopped guitar, and we got it down."
The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's nephew heard about the track and became a big fan. Malik reveals he has reached out and wants to perform with Zayn and "do a gig somewhere in India".
The pop star adds, "Doing something with him - anything - would be an honor. Fingers crossed we can make it work."