In a wide-ranging interview with GQ Style, Payne, 26, revealed he and his former boy band members Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan "haven't really heard" from Malik, 26, since he exited the group. A few months after Malik's departure, 1D announced their hiatus.
When asked if there are still grudges between the five of them, Payne said, "Definitely in some part, yeah. We had our differences throughout the whole experience with some things."
"I still think about some stuff that was said and done that now I would do differently, but then that's all part of growing up," he continued, adding that being in 1D had a "schoolyard mentality somehow."
Payne said that while he's "not as bothered" by some things now, he pointed out how Zayn's departure was "difficult."
"I think with Zayn's particular exit and the way he chose to go, we haven't really heard from him since he left," the singer explained."He didn't even say goodbye, if I am being honest. It was a really sordid scenario, from our side certainly. A bit strange. It's difficult."
When the GQ reporter pointed out how Malik has had some "difficulties" dealing with fame and anxiety, Payne replied with many good words about his former bandmate.
"Here's the thing: you just don't know until you get there whether you're built for this or not," he said. "For Zayn, he loves music and he's an amazing talent. He genuinely was the best singer in One Direction, hand on heart, out of all of us. But for him to get to a point where, you know, he can't step on a stage? It's a lot. I mean, he's doing great. His streaming numbers are ridiculous but I do think he misses out on the performance side a bit, you know. He can't seem to get past that part."
The "Strip That Down" singer added that he reached out to Malik when he heard what he was going through and he didn't want him to feel "alone."
"We're the only people who know what you're going through," he said. "The only five people who know what you are going through were all in a room together once, and you left -- fair enough -- but you don't want anyone going through such evils for no reason. But it got to a point with me where I wouldn't know where to begin with Zayn. I hope he has good people around him, but I don't at this stage think it's anything the rest of us can solve."
Payne also expressed how he's dealt with anxiety issues of his own as well.
"We all have it," Payne said. "I mean, I have this, like, brain fart syndrome: I was on medication for a while, and it was something to do with epilepsy, but I was using it for something else. And it was to do with anxiety for me too, fully prescribed, but I didn't realise that [on the medication] certain lights made me forget, well, everything."
"I totally forgot who I was," he continued. "And lyrics. It still happens. I have a fear of it now. It happens all the time. So we all have our little beasties in that sort of scenario."