Three years after the last Black Eyed Peas show and 14 months after the birth of her first son, Axl Jack, Fergie is not only enjoying the process of making an album, she's enjoying doing press. "It's nice to talk about something that you're actually excited and enthusiastic about," she says, listing collaborators like Dr. Luke, Roccstar, Mike Will Made It and, of course, Peas leader Will.i.am. Calling from Los Angeles, the singer-rapper spoke in new detail about The Dutchess' long-awaited follow-up and the lead single that doubles as a hometown tribute.
What have you been listening to? What's caught your ear during these past few years?
Well, I love Rae Sremmurd, who I've actually been in the studio with a little bit, with Mike Will. They're just fun, and they've got this crazy, young vibe that's just a bad example – and something about that really attracts me. I think it always will. I have no idea when that will ever go away.
I've been listening to a lot of trap music, because I do dance classes. I have my girls come over, and I do privates because I had to get back into my body. And that seems to be the music that's led to the vibe of dancing that I'm into – Bobby Shmurda and all that. Something about it just works for me. But at the same time, I've been a huge fan of Disclosure and Flume and Sam Smith. Being at Coachella was great: It kind of kicked me back into everything that's out now and all the new stuff.
Did that music influence the sound of the new album?
I'm influenced by a lot of things. I don't want to put anything into a box and say, "This is what the album's gonna be." It's definitely similar to The Dutchess in that each song is different and has its own character.
When did you start working on it?
I've been working on this for years but just not with any deadlines. I've been working on it just whenever I get a brain-gasm, the moment of what I think is a genius idea. I kept all these ideas, and I've just recently put them together. Now I'm following through with all these ideas I've had, and it's been super rewarding. There are a lot of different styles and things that I feel like I've been influenced by and they come out at different times, but it's hard for me to go really specific with you. I'm the type of person who likes to let you hear the music and talk about it afterwards, rather than give you styles of music and have you hear it and go, "Well I'm not getting that." I'd rather have you hear the music, and then I'll talk to you about it for 24 hours. Like, I'll talk to you about "L.A. Love" for sure.
Let's talk about "L.A. Love." DJ Mustard produced the song. Were you guys in the studio together or did you reach out to him for a beat?
No, we were in the studio together. You know, being in my creative cave – which is like my zen den at home – I've just been watching and getting really excited about the whole L.A. movement of music: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, YG, DJ Mustard. I was really proud of my hometown and feeling like I need to be a part of this. And I thought, "What a great way to cap off the summer that YG and Mustard had and really celebrate that and do a celebration of DJ Mustard and that kind of niche sound that he came with." So I got in the studio and we just vibed like we'd known each other for a long time.
This world is so nuts and our government can't even agree to pass any laws or bills. And ISIS and Ebola and all of this... I just want to spread some Cali, chill vibes and sunshine and just have some fun. Mami wants to get out and have some fun right now.
Have there been any songs or artists that have come out in the last few years that have really got your competitive drive going – that have made you want to go back into the studio?
There's always gonna be new females coming out. It's just like a cycle. You know we all get tired and want to go on vacation or just go home and hide away for a little bit when it's time. We're all just really similar girls. We all have this dream and we all want to make music and we all have these creative juices that we want to get out of our system. So for me it's just kind of a revolving door of cycles of different energy and different artistic energy. I like that. That doesn't get me like, "I gotta go get back out." I didn't want to come back out until I was good and ready.
You do seem competitive, though. Like if you're going to put out an album now, you're going to make sure it's the best album possible.
You know, I'm ambitious. Right from inception I see what visually needs to happen with a song in order to get the feeling that I'm feeling across to the listener. I'm doing everything that I possibly can to get that in the visuals, the videos and in the live performance. That's just my dedication. It's all about transporting my feeling to you and getting that same kind of collective feeling going on between the listener and the performer.
How will you know if you're successful?
Collective consciousness, bro. The L.A. love movement, that's what it's about.
I think I'm too New York. I'm not tapped into the collective consciousness.
You're not down with the overall collective consciousness of love?
I might have seen it from afar.
Do you have issues with intimacy?
Perhaps. Maybe this new album will help me out.
I can do therapy with you on the phone. Who did that stem from: Mommy or Daddy? [Laughs]
Let's get back to the music. What's it like to be in the studio with Will again?
It feels great. I mean he's always showing me some new gadget he's doing. Now he has that watch, and he was showing me the watch. [Will.i.am on CNET: "It's a not a watch. It's a device on your wrist called a Puls."] He's got this whole studio called "The Future." It's legendary. He's got all his tech-heads there constantly working on new things, new developments. It's very Will.i.am. What's good about working with Will on a solo project and not for the Peas is that he doesn't feel the pressure of making sure he's gotta cut a verse or figuring out where we're each going to go in the song. It's really about him helping to bring my vision and what I want to say to life. It's a nice dynamic.
Do you guys ever talk about getting the Peas back together?
No. No we don't. We just talk about what's happening currently.