In a new candid piece with Refinery29, Gwen opened up about her new album and how different (and similar) it was for her writing this time around. The entire article is incredible and we recommend heading over to the site to check it out.
The article calls out a few standout tracks on the record and says that some songs to “get dark”. Gwen wrote from the heart and pulled from both love and loss for the album (reeling from her divorce and new relationship with Blake). On the track “Loveable” (found on international deluxe editions only), R29 calls it “a pretty direct revenge song” while “Asking 4 It” “warns future lovers.”
“In the songs â€œMiseryâ€ and â€œRed Flag,â€ Stefani debates the logic of investing in love to begin with, putting words to that sense of hopelessness that comes after a crushing breakup. â€œAsking for Itâ€ warns future lovers, â€œItâ€™s a lot to handle me,â€ while â€œLovableâ€ is a pretty direct revenge song with its cutting line, â€œWatch what ima do / ima go and prove / with somebody new / that Iâ€™m lovable lovable lovable.â€
After her separation from Gavin, Gwen was determined to get back to work and not let everything tear her apart. “I just felt at a certain point in my own heart, when everything was crushed and I was down real, real low, I was like, I donâ€™t want to be down here. This is not me. I remember feeling embarrassed. Like, I gotta prove that this is not going to be who I am. I gotta turn this into music.” She credits her new relationship with “friend” Blake Shelton saying, “I donâ€™t think itâ€™s an accident that that happened. It saved me.”
She opened up a little more about her first attempt at an album in 2014 saying that she wished she had music of her own to release but found it hard to find inspiration… and time of her own. “I had been trying to make a record. It was just a different thing. It was like, I wish I had new music. I wish so bad I could write new songs. Everything was I wish, I wish, I wish, and there was no way I could do it. I had just done that No Doubt record [Push and Shove]. Then I got pregnant and gave birth. And then I got [The Voice], which was just an incredible gift, and perfect timing in my life to do something different. I needed that inspiration. It put me in a different position. I was playing the role of a caretaker. It brought back so much of my own confidence I had lost along the way.”
Gwen shared that she participated in many writing sessions and said she felt like she wasn’t able to input anything of her own. “The [songwriters and producers] were happy I was there, but they were going to do everything and they wouldnâ€™t really listen to my ideas. It was track driven and it felt radio chasing. It was the wrong kind of setting.” Gwen credits her new A&R manager for hooking her up with “right support team”, which included J.R. Rotem, Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and Raja Kumari, for truly understanding her intentions and helping regain her confidence. “I had lost a lot of that along the way, I think, whether from my own personal situation or just the longevity of my career. I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m a human, things happen.”
Gwen recalls presenting some of the material she had been working on to Interscope (including bonus track found on the deluxe editions, “Rocket Ship”), and they came back to her saying they thought the album was “too personal”. Gwen said that she became brutal after speaking with her label saying to her writing team, “Letâ€™s write the most fucking personal shit, ever â€” opposite of what anyone would want to hear,” spawning “Used To Love You”, which ironically Interscope loved.
Gwen says that working on this record had a very “spiritual similarity” to writing Tragic Kingdom in the sense that she “wasnâ€™t doing it for any other reason but to help myself.”
When asked if her new relationship has lead to possibly any new sounds on the record, Gwen says that she wasn’t influenced by anything but her true emotions. “Of course [our relationship] was an influence. Musically, no. Every song was written purely out of whatever my heart was going through at that moment. And we would create whatever music we needed to support that. There was no, ‘I want to make a reggae song or a hip-hop song.’ It was all about, how do I get this out? How do I capture it? And how does it make me feel better?”
— refinery29 (@Refinery29) March 15, 2016
Gwen is also on the cover of UK’s Stylist magazine with another personal interview about her album and speaks about an “artist-industry” standard.
Gwen shares that she currently doesn’t have any influences but admits she depends on the closest to her the most. “I couldnâ€™t do what I do without having the right team around me. The past year has been so crazy.” She reiterates that she’s in a very positive place right now in her life and feels “pretty protective” over her new album.
Gwen admits that she’s never seen herself as a sex symbol in the music industry and thinks that may be why she’s had such a successful and long career. “If youâ€™re playing that card, thereâ€™s nothing unique about it. But I think there is something unique about being honest, turning your personal tragedies into music. Embracing who you are, and not being ashamed of it.”
Gwen reveals that her new track “Where Would I Be” was written in 4 hours and that this album was created in “the most intense time.” She says that she was able to get Fetty Wap in on the last day to record his portion on “Asking 4 It” before having to present her album to the label.
She defends her record label (Interscope) and says that they’ve always supported her over the years. Gwen says it was really tough when she first presented tracks to the label whom did’t believe they could sell it commercially and suggested she release them as an “art project.” “For a while, I was going to make this album how every other girl makes her record: getting other people to write it.” Gwen says that she wouldn’t all this album “confessional”, but just her telling it how it is. ” Everything got f***ed up, and now itâ€™s not. Everything went wrong, and then I fell in love. This album really captures that.”
— Stylist Magazine (@StylistMagazine) March 15, 2016