When Gwen Stefani’s forced to choose, she picks Pharrell over her husband. Sorry, Gavin, but that’s just how much Gwen’s solo career is taking off right now.
Stefani originally planned to use her Love, Angel, Music, Baby leftovers as an EP or as extra tracks on a holiday DVD release, but Pharrell, who’d worked with her on “Hollaback Girl,” convinced her that she could make a L.A.M.B. part two (see “Gwen Stefani Plans Another Solo Album By Year’s End” ). The only problem was that he convinced her during the only free time she would have to spend chilling with her husband before she needed to start preparing to launch her first New York fashion show and first solo tour this fall. He invited her to come to Miami, and she was floored.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s very ambitious,’ ” she said. ” ‘On the one break that I might have to hang out with Gavin, to hang out with you for 10 days and write songs again?’ But it’s such an opportunity to work with him, so I did it.”
“I think me and Gwen are like the same people,” Pharrell said. “We’re people cut from their own cloth. Not a different cloth, their own cloth. Gwen is like the girl in high school who had her own style. Everyone went to high school with that girl, and she’s cute with it. And then you got the other girls with the purple hair, standing by the lockers, who are just followers of a musical movement. Gwen marches to the beat of her own drum. We wave that flag together, ‘Just be you, who cares?’ ”
The two ended up creating six or seven new tracks together, including “Orange County Girl,” “Breaking Up,” “Candyland” and “Wind It Up.” And the timing ended up being perfect after all, since Stefani was then able to showcase the new tunes in both her fashion show (see “Gwen Previews New Songs, Clothing Line For Diddy, Kravitz, Others” ) and on the road (see “Gwen Stefani Brings Solo Show To Hollywood ‘Hometown’ Crowd” ).
“It’s incredible work that she did,” Pharrell said. “They sound hot.”
“The more recent ones sound even more severe to the left,” Stefani said. “It’s just very fresh, almost like, ‘What is this music and why am I doing it?’ But Pharrell’s so inspiring. You have to hear it to understand. A lot of my inspirations are these songs [that] are his inspirations, like this thing that’s going down in Texas. Slim Thug? I never heard of that before.”
Pharrell wasn’t the only one contributing to Stefani’s new songs — her mom (inadvertently) makes a contribution to “Orange County Girl,” which Stefani didn’t even realize until she was reading her band’s Web site and checking out what people posted about the song.
“I love that song, it’s a sick song, it’s a song I always needed to have,” Stefani said, “but people are trying to post the lyrics, and they’re so getting the lyrics so wrong. I’m so proud of them, because it’s so exactly like growing up in Orange County and how I got to this point. And reading them, someone had posted that I had copied what my mom said on ‘Oprah.’ My mom got asked something and she said, ‘My daughter Gwen is just an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world.’ And I went, ‘She’s right!’ So I e-mailed my mom, ‘I copied your lyrics, you need credit.’ ”
While Stefani doesn’t have a release date in mind yet for her follow-up, she figures she’ll have to shoot the video and artwork while she’s on tour if she wants it to be out by early next year. Then again she’s not so sure it’s ready yet, even though she has plenty of songs recorded. “I have so much traffic in my head,” she said, “and I need to see if they’re good enough yet. I have to live with them and play them for my friends.”
And her fans, who are responding positively so far. “It’s going over so well,” she said. “Usually when you play new songs live, people don’t know how to react. But they’re getting what it’s about.”For our latest feature on Gwen, check out “Gwen Stefani: Fabric Kingdom.”