Fergie doesn't want to be known as just a chick Pea anymore. So like her labelmate (and former tourmate) Gwen Stefani, she's making herself the main dish by going solo.
But Fergie's keeping the guys close by — her new video for "London Bridge," the first single from her LP, The Duchess (due September 19), puts the singer front and center, but there's still room for a few cameos from her Black Eyed Peas bandmates.
"We're doing this androgynous-type thing," Fergie said, "where [me and my girls] go into a gentlemen's club and pull them into a bathroom and come back out in their clothes. They're going to be dressed up really dapper and looking really handsome."
Fergie said she also collaborated with her Peas pal Will.I.Am on the clip's concept to make it more distinctive than another-female-solo-singer-does-a-dance-routine. "I didn't want it to be, 'OK, here I am now with my whole dancing posse,' " Fergie said. "We wanted to make it more of a tough feel, just like the song is," in which she sings "I'm such a lady, but I'm dancing like a ho."
"This song is kind of like a punch in the face to let people know I'm coming out," Fergie said. For the video, she brought in backup dancers who double as bodyguards, dressed like cholas — tough Mexican girls known for wearing dark lipstick and big hair — to make the clip "have a bit more edge, be very distinct, be very mixed." Fergie swears she used to want to be a chola growing up. "I used to do my hair and clothes in exactly the same way," she said.
"It really brings me back. People have never seen me in the Black Eyed Peas videos going to clubs and hanging out with my girls, and that's a big part of me," she continued. "I love to go to clubs, hang out, get buck wild, get into fashion. I probably need more girl energy in my life, because I'm around boys all the time."
Fergie designed one of her outfits for the video from her family's crest and tartan — she is partially of Scottish descent — "but not exactly, though. We want it to be modernized." She also wears a tiara cocked to the side of her head to play off the royal name of her album, as well as the similarity between her real name (Stacy Ferguson) and that of the Duchess of York (Sarah Ferguson). "It was just a funny play on words," Fergie said.
To keep the joke going, Fergie shot the "London Bridge" video — where else? — in London, at the Woolwich army barracks and on a boat on the Thames. "We got to use the whole cheeky London-type thing, playing with the British guards," she said of the two-day mid-June shoot with director Marc Webb. "But at the same time, we were playing with the '60s London feel, with the Brigitte Bardot bouffant hair, and mixing that up with the chola style. It's kind of a weird fusion, and it somehow just all works together."
"London Bridge" is just a taste of more "weird fusion" to come, she promised. The song, which was co-written by Sean Garrett and produced by Polow Da Don (Ludacris, Pussycat Dolls), is a club track that only lightly touches on personal lyrics about fame and celebrity ("It's like every time I get up on the dude/ Paparazzi put my business in the news").
"I'm not the 'woe is me' artist, but it's tongue in cheek," Fergie said, "because I do love to laugh at myself. I'm not this serious person who's that sensitive, that you can never say anything about. I mean, I get it. I get the whole aspect of the business, so we kind of play with that a little bit in the video, but I didn't want the whole song to be about that, because it's boring."
The rest of the album, she insisted, is much more revealing, as she opens up about "just everything I've gone through in my life, everything that I've been influenced by."
Fergie has spoken openly in the past about dabbling with gang members as a teenager, as well as her recovery from an addiction to crystal meth that led to weight loss and paranoia.
"[She's] writing about her personal struggles and casting her demons away and feminine power," Will.I.Am said. "[It's] her singing for young girls to be strong, and what they're going through in life, just growing up in this world of uncertainty.
"I know females, and I know you all are going to like this."