DENVER — For a song that references limousines, platinum, diamonds, cashmere and even Egyptian cotton, Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” is surprisingly sentimental.
“That song really is more about a love relationship,” Stefani said of her new single, the fifth from her debut solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. “If you really listen to the lyrics, it has nothing to do with money or luxury. It has to do with love, being rich in love. I just wanted to think of a clever way to express how you have to work really hard for the rewards of that.”
When Stefani sings lines like, “Look, I’m livin’ like a queen,” she’s saying that being in love is the ultimate luxury.
“I mean, nothing really does compare,” she continued, prior to taking the stage for a recent stop of her Harajuku Lovers Tour (see “Gwen Stefani Brings Solo Show To Hollywood ’Hometown’ Crowd” ). “As I mature … the people around me are trying to find people they’re into and it becomes harder and harder. I just feel really lucky that I found someone that I like hanging out with.”
Stefani is obviously referring to husband Gavin Rossdale, although strangely enough, she wrote the song with her ex-boyfriend.
“Tony and I wrote that song — you would think I would’ve written that with somebody else, but that was me and Tony in his room,” she said of No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. “I knew I wanted to do this really kinda fast rappy part. And so we were listening to all these different things, trying to rip all these melodies off. It was one of the last songs we wrote.”
Once Stefani and Kanal thought it was done, they played the song for producer Nellee Hooper, who instantly suggested adding a sample of the Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets,” the same track Notorious B.I.G. sampled for “Big Poppa.”
“We were like, ’What?!’ ’Cause if you use a sample, it means you have to basically hand the song [publishing rights] over to the person that you’re using the sample of,” Stefani explained. “It’s just a weird thing that happened where we had written a song and the sample came on afterward, but it sounded so amazing and meant to be that we just ended up doing it anyway.”
Stefani never expected “Luxurious” would become a single, and therefore never thought much about the video.
“Usually I have [a video concept] right when I write the song,” she said. “I had this one vision of this girl that was from high school named Mercedes … she’s very inspiring. She’s this total like chola girl, white face, and she used to sit in class and put on tons of makeup. And I used to just watch her, mesmerized. And she would just wear this dark liner and this red lipstick and she had this safety pin and she’d be picking her eyelashes apart. She hadn’t taken that mascara off for months.”
Stefani called Sophie Muller, who directed the “Cool” clip (see “Gwen Stefani’s Song About Tony Kanal To Be Her Next Single” ) as well as several No Doubt videos, and told her she had to helm it.
“She didn’t understand, so I basically had to come up with all the ideas and forced her into doing this different lighting and different style and it was really fun for us,” Stefani said. “I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
“Luxurious,” which was just released, will be the final single from Love, Angel, Music, Baby, as Stefani is now preparing to release her follow-up album.
Check out our latest feature on Gwen: “Gwen Stefani: Fabric Kingdom.”