Niall Horan used jar of beans as percussion for first solo album

Pop star Niall Horan used a jar of coffee beans as a makeshift instrument to add percussion to his "folky" debut solo album.

The 23-year-old has been hard at work on his solo material since going on hiatus from his boy band One Direction in January (16).

He composed his new songs on a piano and guitar in the spring (16), and when he moved on to work with session musicians, they began to explore and experiment with different sounds, with one drummer, named Aaron Sterling, even using "a coffee jar full of beans" to get the percussion just right.

"Some of the songs are heavier than others," Niall tells Entertainment Weekly. "I play a bit of electric on some tracks and we obviously played around a lot with percussion stuff to build up the songs so there was a lot of things going on percussion wise."

The bean jar wasn't the only out-of-the-box mock instrument the musicians put to good use, with Niall explaining Aaron also used "pink twine that was attached to 12 empty cans of Perrier sparkling water".

"He would just drop them on the floor next to the mic in time and it would make a crashing marching sound," Horan adds.

Niall, who already released his first solo single This Town in September (16), promises fans his forthcoming album, expected to reach listeners next year (17), will have a very strong "folk-with-pop feel to it" that hearkens back to some of his favorite childhood bands, such as Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Eagles.

"Whenever I would pick up a guitar, I would always naturally play chords like that, and finger pick a lot, and play that folky kind of style," he shares, before confessing he had to overcome a lot of confidence issues to lay down the tracks. "The biggest challenge of making the album was making sure I could sing for that long. I did write the songs in my key so I didn't try to make it too difficult for myself."