We’ve all had that moment when we sense that things are about to change. For Gwen Stefani that epiphany occurred as a high school senior in Orange County. She was a 17 year-old girl, in love and really excited about her future with the boy that she thought was going to be her husband. That relationship was her passion. Then, she learned that she could write songs and her life changed. She went from feeling passive to feeling empowered. This turning point made it clear that Gwen had a talent that she needed to share.
Now, it is safe to say that that mission has been accomplished. As lead singer and songwriter for Grammy-winners No Doubt, and over the course of the group’s four platinum-plus albums, Gwen Stefani has reigned as one of rock’s most iconic and cool females.
The name of Gwen’s much anticipated solo project is Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and it is absolute Gwen. It’s rhythmic, rebellious, confessional, sexy, fierce, playful, funky, ballsy, and emotional. Working with an eclectic array of musicians and producers who rep everything from new wave to hip-hop, Gwen has fashioned an album that shimmers with exuberance, which was the plan from the start.
Helping Gwen achieve that goal are artists like Dr. Dre, The Neptunes, Andre 3000, Linda Perry, New Order, Nellee Hooper, Wendy & Lisa, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. As you’d expect, that blending of skills and influences makes for a sonically adventurous album. A long time ska fan, Gwen was also drawn to other influences and would often flash back to those more innocent days when the rush of going out dancing or checking out a song on the radio totally fueled you. Depeche Mode. Club Nouveau. Early Madonna. Prince. The Time. Debbie Deb. The Cure. The sensations of that era were dormant in Gwen’s soul. After No Doubt’s successful Rock Steady tour, Gwen approached band mate bassist Tony Kanal and they talked about doing something like a Club Nouveau record on the side. That’s how the process started and it snowballed.
Fast and easy the project was not. Gwen procrastinated. She was distracted by life, (she’d just gotten married), and exhausted. As fate would have it, Gwen received a call from Linda Perry. They had known each other since Perry was with fellow Interscope act 4 Non Blondes. Gwen dug Linda but despite Perry’s insistence to the contrary, just didn’t envision her as the woman who could bring Gwen a dance record. Perry let Gwen know that she was ready to begin work and had a brief window of time available. Yet Gwen wasn’t feeling inspired and was still unsure of what Perry could offer. Despite her misgivings she pushed herself to meet with Perry. The two women clicked and immediately began to write, coming up with several tracks…among them the album’s first single, “What You Waiting For?” High energy and all attitude, “What You Waiting For?” is an insistent, spiky new wave/dance track that was inspired by Gwen’s self doubt and hesitancy to begin the recording process.
If Gwen was hesitant to work with Perry, she was eager to join forces with Andre 3000, whom Gwen had first met when OutKast remixed “Hey Baby.” André came to the studio with one song that was nearly completed: an utterly modern Prince-influenced observation about interracial romance called “Long Way To Go” which he’d originally intended for OutKast’s Grammy-winning Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Gwen and Andre expanded that song, with Andre handling most of the production duties. “That song, which has a vibe like “Grease” on acid, is a caffeinated hyperspace duet that pushes boundaries previously unthought of as Andre and Gwen work their inner John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Drawing vitality and love from an amazing group of artists Gwen Stefani was able to not only express herself but also find commonality in the process of doing so. Asked how she sees Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and her enthusiasm is contagious. She feels that lots of different elements have come together to make the album great. With the release of Love. Angel. Music. Baby., her enthusiasm will undoubtedly spread to audiences worldwide.