Gwen Stefani is addressing some longstanding criticism.
In an interview with Allure, “The Voice” coach talked about her infamous “Harajuku Girls” era, her Japanese-influenced style surrounding the release of her 2004 album Love.Angel.Music.Baby.
During the release and rollout of the album, Stefani’s look took inspiration from the Harajuku subculture in Japan, and surrounded herself with her cadre of Harajuku Girls.
Looking back on her youth, the singer recalled that her father worked for Yamaha, and for nearly two decades regularly travelled between California and Japan.
“That was my Japanese influence and that was a culture that was so rich with tradition, yet so futuristic [with] so much attention to art and detail and discipline and it was fascinating to me,” Stefani said.
She finally got to go to Japan as an adult, and travelled to Harajuku in Tokyo to see what the place was really like.
“I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it,’” she said, adding, “I am, you know.”
Stefani explained that there is “innocence” to her relationship with Japanese culture, calling herself a “super fan.”
“If [people are] going to criticize me for being a fan of something beautiful and sharing that, then I just think that doesn’t feel right,” she said. “I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture.”
She added, “[It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
The signer also explained that she also has a connection to Hispanic and Latinx culture from growing up in Anaheim, Cal.
“The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” she said. “Even though I’m an Italian American — Irish or whatever mutt that I am — that’s who I became because those were my people, right?”
Stefani added that she’s “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.”