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Gwen Stefani on Emmylou Harris, Eve, Dr. Dre

Plus, the wisdom of Dr. Dre



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  • Gwen Stefani

Pop queen Gwen Stefani broke hearts when she left No Doubt for a hiatus in 2004, then mended them right up again with Love. Angel. Music. Baby., her six-times-over Grammy-nominated debut album that smashed charts and went platinum. The Sweet Escape followed two years later. Then (hear those hearts cracking a little again?) a 10-year hiatus from solo work, until this year's This Is What The Truth Feels Like.

Stefani hosted a pre-tour interview with music journalists nationwide, and NUVO was able to sneak in a question about the women she thinks are totally badass. During this interview, Stefani spoke openly about the struggles of being a businesswoman, full-time touring musician, creative entity and mom.

She'll stop at Klipsch with Eve on Sunday.

NUVO: What were some early female music heroes for you; some shows that you can remember thinking, "That is a badass woman?"

Gwen Stefani: It's a good question, and it kind of comes full circle in a weird, crazy way that you'll be like, "Whoa, okay."

The first concert that I remember going to was — this is my memory — I was in Girl Scouts at a Girl Scout event, and my parents came to pick me up to go take me to see Emmylou Harris at the Palomino Club up in Los Angeles. I come from a family of four kids, so for me, to get — like at around seven or eight-years-old — get taken by just my parents alone, drive to L.A., go to a weird bar/club and watch this most beautiful woman that I knew all her music growing up sing, it was just — I will never forget that moment.

And it was weirdly a country music artist, Emmylou Harris, and another weird part about it was she, halfway through the set, said, "Okay. I'm going to take a break, because I need to go nurse my new baby." So, she went off stage and for a little girl [Gwen], that was, "What? She's going to go nurse her baby?" And then, she came back out.

And years later, I got to do the cover of Vanity Fair with her and a few other amazing people, and I got to tell her that story. And she was "Oh, yeah." That baby was obviously in college and you know what I mean? ... And I just had my baby — it was so weird how life has so many weird [coincidences].

My life is crazy. I mean, I'm sure everybody's is. Mine is still so crazy sometimes when I think about it. And it's not until you live long that you kind of look back at, like, the whole fabric of it and you see all of these. ... "Wow. Then that was going to happen, and that was going to happen." It feels like, one of those moments right now where, especially when something really, like terrible happens and you're thinking, "How could this be happening? Why is this happening?" And you kind of get over and through it and you think, "Oh, that's why, because this is now supposed to happen, something great."

So yeah, I've had a lot of moments like that with music and I'm sure everybody has and I think this tour for me is supposed to be giving that to people, you know? I want a mom to take their daughter to their first concert and it's going to be this concert. This is what The Truth Feels Like and the energy that I have and the purity and the. ... intention I have is just to give them that moment, you know? I know that's my responsibility and I'm taking it real seriously and I feel so grateful.

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Alan Sculley: I wanted to ask a little about kind of the making of the album here. You've apparently had a whole version of the album that you were almost done with and scrapped before you decided to take another crack at it and came up with The Truth album. And I know you were working with some other songwriters and stuff on that. But I wondered what it was about that initial pass at the album that made you decide, "No, this isn't the album I want to make or want to put out for people to hear at this point."

Stefani: Yeah. I mean, it's so hard to answer it, because so much time has passed, and I can try to give you a nutshell version of what happened. ... I think that what happened is I did the two solo records, which I think that was my destiny. I needed to do those. I felt so inspired during that time period. I mean, I created L.A.M.B. and Harajuku during that time period. I had just gotten married. I then went on to have two babies during that time period as well, so there was a lot of output, and it was such a creative time. And there was no stopping me as far as, like, just, I was just ready to go. And I think after I did — I came back and I wanted to do a No Doubt record. I felt like I needed to do the No Doubt record, and when I gave birth to Zuma, I basically had him, and they were like "We're going on tour. That's how we're going to get inspired." I was like, "Okay. Let's go."

So we went and that tour, I think, almost killed me. I mean, I at that point felt really burnt out physically, and I think mentally I felt so much pressure to make the No Doubt record. Like it was all up to me, and we were going to get in the room and there was not going to be any outside writers and I didn't feel secure enough to have outside writers, because I was starting my journey of insecurity basically at that point. And the next kind of five years was a really challenging time.

I mean, I had spent, like, a lot of time trying to make the No Doubt record, but also trying to balance being a mom and a lot of guilt in, like, "Okay. I'm going to go to the studio right now, but I'm going to miss dinner, and I'm going to come home." And I wouldn't have gotten anything done and I just wasted everybody's time; my kids' time, like it was a lot of that. ... And that wasn't helping my creative center at all.

So I went through that for a long time, and it wasn't until I kind of found my way back to my spiritual path of, just connection of finding out what is the purpose. And that's when I got pregnant with Apollo, and that was, like "Wow. That's a miracle." And being pregnant with him was a time for me to just stop everything. And at that time I had been really trying to write more No Doubt music, and I just stopped everything. I was like "I'm done doing everything for everyone. I'm just going to be pregnant." And I gave birth to him, and four weeks later, they called me to do The Voice, and that's when I was like "Wow." "I hadn't thought about doing something like that." And I just kind of went, "Yeah, let's go." I didn't even know what I was getting myself into.

And that was the beginning of the end of that insecurity. "Okay." I was on the show. I had this new baby. I'm around all this music. I'm looking at my life. I'm looking back at myself, at what I've done. You know what I'm saying? Like it made me think about how many great songs I'd written and how much I'd accomplished and how did I do it? You know what I mean?

And so my confidence was coming back slowly. And then, I guess at a point when things started to kind of, like in my life, unravel last year — it's sometimes really bad happen just so that really great things will happen ­— and I think that's what happened to me. It was like a wakeup call... "Get back on track and stop being insecure about writing and your gift and what you're here for, and stop being selfish and share what you've got." And that's when I just — it was really hard, because I just wanted to get under the covers and eat pizza and cry, but I just went to the studio and that is what the The Truth Feels Like is. That's what this record is, and that's what I'm going to celebrate when I get on tour. I'm just going to celebrate that I was put on this Earth to write these songs. ... 

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A.D. Amorosi: Can you please tell me about getting together with Eve in the first place; her doing your record? You [did] her record back in 2004, and have you guys gotten back together again for this tour?

Stefani: Jimmy Iovine, who signed me, he's the head of Interscope. He started Interscope, and then he also went on to do Beats with Dr. Dre and then he went on to do Apple; he works with Apple now. He's a genius. He basically, I think, told Dre, "You should put Gwen on one of your records," kind of thing. And then, like, told me that Dre really wanted me on one of his records. So he does that trick where he kind of told one person one thing and the other person something else.

And so when they were doing that track, I got the call. Like, "Dre wants you on the 'Eve' record." And I was, "What? Are you kidding me?" Like he, to me, is like, Dr. Dre is "Dr. Dre." You know what I mean? So I went down to the studio and I worked with him. It was one of the hardest sessions I've ever done. I literally cried afterwards. He was so particular. He was so tough on me, you know, in the studio. But it was the greatest thing ever to be — to be able to walk over and be in a different genre of music with Eve. ... This girl is so talented. ...

She is literally one of the most talented girls I've ever been in the room with. It was crazy to watch her. She's got so much style. She's got so much attitude. So this tour — it was one of the names that came up and it just seemed to make so much sense and it just seemed so fun, you know? So we're going to be able to be on tour together and be able to do those songs together on stage, and I couldn't think of anybody else actually that I'd want to tour with, especially a girl. She's dope. So I'm excited.


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