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Gwen Stefani Defends 'Harajuku Girls' Amid Cultural Appropriation Criticism 15 Years Later

Gwen Stefani Defends 'Harajuku Girls' Amid Cultural Appropriation Criticism 15 Years Later

Gwen Stefani is opening up about the making of her 2004 studio album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., including “Harajuku Girls,” a song that has specifically been criticized for cultural appropriation in later years.

The 50-year-old No Doubt singer opened up in a track-by-track interview for Billboard.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Gwen Stefani

“When it first came out, I think people understood that it was an artistic and literal bow down to a culture that I was a superfan of. This album was like a dream. I went in thinking I’m going to make something that could never be possible — me doing a dance record — come true. It was almost like a joke, because I thought that could never happen to me. So it was my fantasy. When the Harajuku Girls came out, it was like, you’re not even real, you’re a dream. It wasn’t like, ‘You’re not real because you’re Asian.’ Are you kidding me? That would be horrifying!” she explained.

“So when people asked me about it during radio interviews, I told them this was all a concept and we were having fun. By the way, the girls were cast to be dancers — that’s all. We went to Nobu in London and we talked about the concept of the record and I showed them my style bible. Judging by their own personalities, I called them ‘Love,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘Music’ and ‘Baby.’ It was like we were creating a group together,” she continued.

“I wanted to write a song that talked about my love for Harajuku. When you’re from Anaheim and never traveled outside of your city until you’re 21 years old, it was really crazy to go to Japan. My dad went there a lot because he worked with Yamaha motorcycles, so I had a fascination from a young age. When I got there and saw how fashion-obsessed they were, I thought they were my people, because my style was so unique. I get a little defensive when people [call it culture appropriation], because if we didn’t allow each other to share our cultures, what would we be? You take pride in your culture and have traditions, and then you share them for new things to be created.”

READ MORE: Gwen Stefani Pre-Tapes Her ‘Christmas in Rockefeller Center’ Performance Three Weeks Early

For more from Gwen, head to Billboard.com.

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Posted to: Gwen Stefani, Music

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