Interview with Gwen on Solo Album, No Doubt and Having No Regrets

Gwen Stefani

Gwen gave a new intimate interview (literally, from her bathroom!) to Time magazine shortly before hitting the KISS FM Jingle Ball stage last Friday about how she manages it all, working with No Doubt and how she still has no regrets about the Harajuku Girls.

She says that this new record came out very spontaneously and said it was a no-brainer putting out a third solo album while being on The Voice. “This time, that wasn’t even a option. It was either no new music and do The Voice or do some more dance music and just be free and see what happens. It wouldn’t be an option to do No Doubt because there was was no time!” On Push and Shove, she credits the album taking so long due to “parental commitments and lifestyles” and how they work (they are notable perfectionists). She blames herself again and finds herself lazy when hanging around the boys in the studio.

No Doubt decided to head back into the the studio after returning home from Europe in late 2012. After being in the studio for about six months on their own (with no collaborators), one of their last sessions was with Pharrell Williams. She calls it “six months of struggle” and says it wasn’t coming “really naturally”. After becoming pregnant unexpectedly, the band decided it was a good time to take another break. Gwen shares that she had a really tough time during her last pregnancy (with third son Apollo) and was very sick.

Pharrell invited Gwen onstage with him during the Coachella Festival earlier this year and was her first time out of the house since giving birth. She called the performance “magical” and found herself signing on to The Voice one week later and says she had no idea what would be happening next for her.

After signing on, she realized that she must either put out another dance record while on The Voice or nothing at all. No Doubt wouldn’t have the time to put out new material while she was on the show so it was obvious another solo record was on the horizon for her. Gwen says that Pharrell kept pushing her to perform “Hollaback Girl” again, but Gwen was pretty resistant. “I’m not going to keep doing the same song from 10 years ago!” She kept an open mind while heading back into the studio, most notably hooking up with “Baby Don’t Lie” producer Benny Blanco. Gwen shares that No Doubt were in talks to work with him while in the studio earlier last year. Benny also had Gwen team up with Calvin Harris, Ryan Tedder (co-writer for “Baby Don’t Lie”) and Charli XCX.

Gwen’s first idea was just to get her new album out quickly and not think about it but she’s finding herself slowing down and taking her time (the album was said to be out by this holiday season but has now been pushed back for an early 2015 release). She is still writing at this time and says that everything now is “open-ended”. “I went in and did mood boards, a visual mood board of what it would be and started that way. With music, you sometimes just can’t really predict it.”

When asked if she’s felt guilty over the years, Gwen says there has always been a little guilt with everything she’s done, especially going out on her own. After releasing her second solo album, The Sweet Escape in 2006, even after stating on several occasions that she would be putting out “only one solo” album, she knew it was the right move. “When I did The Sweet Escape, I knew that I needed to do that. If you’re not inspired to do something, nothing comes. When I was about to do that second record, I did feel, “Should I go back and do another No Doubt record?” Everybody was waiting for me to do that, meaning my band. I just didn’t feel ready to do that music-wise, because I still wanted to do quirky dance music.”

No Doubt “has a bunch of stuff” done and they are waiting to see where they go next. The band is confirmed to playing this summer at music festivals (including Rock in Rio USA). Gwen says it’s interesting this time around because it’s not one or the other (meaning she is focusing on both solo and new material for the band). “No Doubt doesn’t have to be on a complete hiatus for me to do new music on my own. It can happen simultaneously.”

Gwen also responds to the criticism on the Harajuku Girls and says she has no regrets. “For me, everything that I did with the Harajuku Girls was just a pure compliment and being a fan. You can’t be a fan of somebody else? Or another culture? Of course you can. Of course you can celebrate other cultures. That’s what Japanese culture and American culture have done… I don’t feel like I did anything but share that love. You can look at it from a negative point of view if you want to, but get off my cloud. Because, seriously, that was all meant out of love.”

Photo courtesy of AP.

27 Replies to “Interview with Gwen on Solo Album, No Doubt and Having No Regrets”

  1. WHat she says about the Harajuku Girls at the end, I mean srsly, well played girl. It’s possible to look at a person’s actions from whatever viewpoint suits your frame of mind, but if you wanna be responsible about it, try to consider that person’s intention. It’s only in retrospect that a lot of this criticism has surfaced, and don’t anybody try to tell me that we weren’t, as a society, so comparatively unaware of racial issues ten years ago to notice. At the time, it was clearly about celebrating Japanese culture, and that’s how it ought to be remembered. The notions of ethnic stereotyping only arose in any significant shape several years later, when it’s rather easier to sit back and criticise because you’ve established a durational distance from the events.

    Get off her cloud bitches!

  2. Omg!!!

    Gwen is awesome!

    I think the Voice helped her find HER VOICE!

    I think Pharrell Williams is the best thing that’s ever happened to Gwen for her solo career.

    He just believes in her so much, that it makes her believe in herself, and let out all the Anaheim Disney OC 80s stuff she has stored away!

    She’s so polished, appealing to Corporations, but yet her OC roots give her street creed…so she must get confused on how to get back to the Harbor Blvd girl she will always be!

    And Pharrell lets her be her.

    I so love the Get Off My Cloud line.

    I get it now.

    Get OFF Gwens cloud critiques!!!

    We love you so much Gwen and Pharrell! We want new Harajuku Bags at Macys like the glory days of 2006-2011???

    Bring it all back Gwen!

  3. Very interesting, sounds like she’s had a little change of mind on her “don’t overthink it, just get it out quickly” direction she mentioned on the BDL promo? I’m so glad she’s slowing down a little and spending more time on the album. I know it’s gonna be awesome! I wonder if that’s partly because of how things have been going with the 2 singles so far.

  4. hahaha I love the “get off my cloud” line and I also love that her train of thought has been in line with most of ours. As in, don’t keep doing a 10 year old song and put out some new music and take advantage of The Voice! I only wish ND was more on her radar. I know it’s incredibly hard with all of their schedules though.

  5. Yeah haters get of her cloud! lol I love it, anyway nice to know she’s taking her time and still working on the album. Gwen is back. Please Pharrell stay around a little more.

  6. WHY did she have to say this? She’s gonna be torn apart. Instead of acting defensive, she should have acted apologetic. She could explain that it’s meant out of love and ALSO issue an apology to those it might offend. Getting really defensive and saying stuff like “get off my cloud” don’t address the issues of racism involving this. There’s already a ton of articles criticizing her for this TIME article (just google Gwen Stefani today). I love Gwen but she handled that very wrong. Beyond hurting her chances for a comeback, it more importantly is insensitive to people it offends.

  7. I mean the name of the article is “Gwen Stefani: I Don’t Regret the Harajuku Girls At All.” For real, this is going to be bad for her. And I’m disappointed she can’t take into account the criticisms and apologize while explaining her point of view.

  8. I don’t think it was bad, as for the comments and how she’s going to be torn apart, I lost count how many times that happend or was supposed to happen and she survive it. So calm down.

  9. It’s not like the Harajuku girls where cleaning her floors. People need to get over it. Gwen has ALWAYS said she loves the Japanese culture

  10. Yeah at the end of the day that was their job. I’m sure they got paid a wealthy salary. lol Plus all the freebies and get to travel and visit all those cool places.
    The other day I read a post by one of her new dancers (she’s black) and she said her dreams came true when she got hired, because she wished she was a Japanese girl before so she could be part of her crew. These dancers would “kill” to have a job like this and be Gwen Stefani’s back up dancer.

  11. Yeah Bradley…

    True No Doubters KNOW the Harajuku Girls were born out of Gwens love of Harajuku Tokyo after touring there w No Doubt…right??

    This is overkill, just like they did to Looking Hot video…

    No Doubt is a racially mixed band that’s bern around since the 80s…

    Tell Time magazine to google “John Spence” (G-d Bless him)…

    To think Gwen Stefani or No Doubt have any racially insensitive motives instead of artistic freedom and creativity, means someone’s constitutional rights are being twisted for sales of magazines and to drive an invisible controversy…and create confusion in the marketplace, place il placed guilt and shame on people who donated millions to Japan after the tsunami…

    And fans who have followed this band for decades know this is trumped up controversy instead of what the Harajuku Girls were all about: admiration of the beauty and culture of Japan…

  12. Yeah she is definitely getting some heat for this interview. I can see both sides tbh and I’m glad she’s smart enough not to bring them back. I wonder at times if people would make an issue out of the bindi she used to rock in the 90’s if she tried to do that again.

  13. I AM a true No Doubt fan and that has nothing to do with what I said. Fans can be critical of important things their favorites do.

    I KNOW the Harajuku Girls were around because of Gwen’s love of the culture. But loving a culture doesn’t mean you can’t do things that are offensive. I also know she raised over 40,000 after the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, and donated 1 million dollars of her own money to the cause. Please. I know, know, know that Gwen’s heart is in the right place. And I’ve followed everything her/No Doubt does.

    But having your heart in the right place doesn’t mean you can’t be offensive and do racist actions. Also it’s super ignorant to say “google john spence”. . . Like John Spence being black has nothing to do with Gwen Stefani and the Harajuku Girls. Having a black member in your band isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card to do whatever you want with different cultures.

    If someone tells you that something is offensive to your culture, you should apologize.

    No Doubt has been my favorite band ever since I was 12 year olds. I loved them for years before that. They are absolutely my favorite and I’m obsessed. I love and admire Gwen. I’m also entitled to say how I feel about the issue. I don’t think people should be rude because I have an opinion about my idol, and I don’t think they should challenge if I’m actually a fan or have liked them for a long time.

  14. Im get what Bradley saying. You guys are being rude to him just cause he’s saying some people were offended. He’s not saying he agrees with them- he’s stating a fact. And it’s true – some people find a white woman employing Asian women to “look Japanese” and wordlessly accompany her everhwhere as… A bit offputting. We all understand she’s being artistic- but isn’t that what art DOES? Inspire and provoke??? Thats what happened guys- it provoked people. For better and for worse. No need to get defensive with one another or make someone feel bad for recognizing facts. Get off bradleys cloud!

  15. That’s exactly it. Some people see it as Gwen making money off another culture and using these girls as accessories and not treating them like people. Yet, us fans know that was not her intention. It’s best that she leaves it in the past and goes forward with new ideas.

  16. the real question is why is such a high end magazine like this writing or even mentioning the harajuku girls almost 10 years later??? she doesnt even have them back and its just an odd headline for the magazine

  17. whoahhh!! im late on this all, at first i didnt agree with @Bradley but then all i did was google “Gwen Stefani” and this came up!! 1st page!

    thats freaken TIME magazine!!!! not a blog!!!! TIME!!!!! thats so huge!!! and her response was given to TIME after this!! she couldve thrown a simple “sorry” —–saying sorry if anyone was offended doesnt mean she regrets it still. im absolutely floored by this!

  18. in BIG headlining letters reads: “Before We Embrace Gwen Stefani’s Comeback, She Owes Us An Apology” ——-“Racist Hajajuku Girls” ———–i CAN NOT believe a publication like TIME is coving this, this news is soooo old and not even relevant cuz the girls arent even back!!! im shocked! the writer at time must have been harboring this since 2004 cuz if TIME gave this assignment to another writer this wouldnt have even came up!! its nuts!!!

  19. I’m actually glad she didn’t apologize if she’s not truly sorry. I hate it when celebs do that. At least she’s owning it and sticking by her reasons.

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