The team at Music Connection reached out and shared that Gwen is featured on the cover of their latest issue for September with a new interview on songwriting and her past few years.
While nothing new is in the article, Gwen opened up about the “darkest hour” and discovering again that music is her gift to share with MC’s Gary Graffe. Photos featured throughout are from Gwen’s album photo shoot with Jamie Nelson.
She spoke about heading back on the road with No Doubt in 2009 with the hopes of getting inspired. Gwen admits that the US tour nearly killed her and halted work on the band’s album once she found out she was pregnant with her third son.
MC: You were working on another album that got scrapped before you made This Is What The Truth Feels Like. How did you get from there to here?
Stefani: I needed to do those. I felt so inspired during that time period. I mean, I created (fashion lines) L.A.M.B. and Harajuku during that time period. I had just gotten married. I then went on to have two babies during that time as well, so there was a lot of output, and it was such a creative time and there was no stopping me. I was just ready to go.
Then I came back and I wanted to do a No Doubt record. I felt like I needed to do the No Doubt record, but when I gave birth to Zuma they were like, â€œFirst, weâ€™re going on tour. Thatâ€™s how weâ€™re going to get inspired.â€ I was like, â€œOkay. Letâ€™s go.â€ So we went, and that tour, I think, almost killed me. At that point I felt really burnt out, physically, and I think mentally I felt so much pressure to make the No Doubt record, like it was all up to me. We were going to get in the room and there was not going to be any outside writers and I didnâ€™t feel secure enough to have outside writers, because I was starting my journey of insecurity basically at that point.
MC: It was pretty difficult to balance things that were happening in your life.
Stefani: Yeah, the next five years was a really challenging time. I had spent a lot of time trying to make the No Doubt record, but also trying to balance being a mom and a lot of guilt, like, â€œOkay. Iâ€™m going to go to the studio right now, but Iâ€™m going to miss dinner and Iâ€™m going to come home.â€ It was a lot of that, and it wasnâ€™t helping my creative center at all. So I went through that for a long time, just finding out what is the purpose. And thatâ€™s when I got pregnant with Apollo, and being pregnant with him was a time for me to just stop everything.
MC: And by stop you mean…
Stefani: I just stopped everything. I was like, â€œIâ€™m done doing everything for everyone. Iâ€™m just going to be pregnant.â€ And I gave birth to him, and four weeks later, I got called to [be a judge on NBCâ€™s talent series] The Voice, and thatâ€™s when I was like, â€œWow… I hadnâ€™t thought about doing something like that.â€ And I just kind of went, â€œYeah, letâ€™s go.â€ I didnâ€™t even know what I was getting myself into.
And that was the beginning of the end of insecurity. I was on the show. I had this new baby. Iâ€™m around all this music. Iâ€™m looking at my life. Iâ€™m looking back at myself, at what Iâ€™ve done. It made me think about how many great songs Iâ€™d written and how much Iâ€™d accomplished and how did I do it? You know what I mean? And so my confidence was coming back slowly.
Gwen was asked about the similarities between her latest album and Tragic Kingdom saying that both came from an honest and pure.
On both albums, songs came in such a magical way. Like, I wrote â€œMake Me Like Youâ€ and the next day I wrote â€œMisery.â€ I was writing two songs a day, where I couldnâ€™t even write a song for years. The songs were coming so fast, and a lot of the ideas were so simple. It was, like, â€œWow.â€ The best stuff is usually simple, if you think about it, but itâ€™s the hardest thing to do.
Gwen said that it’s been satisfying and healing to be performing and says that she never takes for granted that she’s been able to tour again. She also says that it’s incredible to be able to share her music with fans all over the world and have people relate and support her saying “it makes you feel better about yourself.” She shares that she’s loving just living in the moment.
When asked what the old-school version of herself react to her life now, when it comes to the costumes and big productions, Gwen shares that she would be in awe.
MC: Would the punk rock girl, however many years ago, be laughing, hearing you talk about costume changes and expensive video production and everything?
Stefani: I donâ€™t think that girl would be laughing. I think she would be giddy with joy, because Iâ€™ve always cared about what Iâ€™m wearing on stage, whether itâ€™s one outfit or not. For me to be able to change, itâ€™s super exciting. Iâ€™ve always loved theatrics and art and fashion and itâ€™s now something thatâ€™s new.
I think whatâ€™s different now is Iâ€™m able to express myself in that way and not be held back playing by a punk rock rule. I think the attitude is still there.
Gwen opened up about balancing her personal and professional lives saying it’s been a priority to protect her children. She says that she’s always been free when songwriting but finds herself being more aware.
MC: With This Is What The Truth Feels Like and the tour, your personal and professional lives have in some ways become one and the same. How do you handle balancing the two?
Stefani: Thatâ€™s always been part of my journey. Tragic Kingdom was all about my personal life, and every single song Iâ€™ve pretty much ever written has been about my personal life, and I feel okay sharing that. The only place where I become more protective of it is really when it comes to the children, because at the end of the day, you donâ€™t want them be a teenager and go, â€œOh, my God. Mom, why did you say that?!â€ or â€œWhy did they say that about you?â€ Thatâ€™s where it starts to get tricky for me.
For more on the issue, interview and where to pick it up near you, check out MusicConnection.com.