Jay Sean gave One Direction’s “shy and nervous” Zayn Malik the “confidence” to become a pop star.

The British R&B star used to tour schools and gave speeches about careers in the music industry before making it big with hits like Down and Eyes on You. During one visit, he stumbled across the future teenage heartthrob.

“I went out into the crowd and asked if there were any aspiring singers and then this little boy put his hand up,” Jay told the Kyle and Jackie O Show. “I asked him if he’d ever sung before and he was like, ‘No, I’m really shy and nervous,’ but I said, ‘We’re gonna sing together.’

“So that was it, we sang one of my songs and that was the first time he’d sung up on stage and that gave him the confidence to go on and audition for [UK TV show] The X-Factor. He tweeted me the other day actually and said, ‘Hey man I don’t know if you remember me but you pulled me up on stage and I just wanna thank you for that moment.’ I thought that was really sweet that he remembered that.”

Jay also spoke about the perils of being famous. When he released his 2009 record All or Nothing, one of his family members saw a quick way to jokingly boost his own profile.

“My cousin, when he was 12 years old, went on to [website] Wikipedia and put his name under the list of producers on the album to impress his friends,” he laughed. “What’s even more stupid was that it was ending up in all the articles, I was like, ‘That’s my 12-year old cousin!’”

Jay has just released his new single I’m All Yours featuring Pitbull. Writing songs when his crew is positioned all across the globe can be a logistical nightmare.

“My producer in Australia will be playing a beat, I’ll be here in LA listening to him and meanwhile we’ve got someone else in New York and he’s writing some of the melodies and lyrics and we’re literally doing it all via Skype,” he said.