Gwen Stefani has spoken about Japan’s influence on her fashion, music and beauty products, saying a visit to Tokyo had her declaring: “My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.”
The 53-year-old No Doubt singer drew on Harajuku subculture, inspired by the district of Tokyo known for its colourful street art, on her 2004 debut solo album Love.Angel.Music.Baby.
In 2008, she released her Harajuku Lovers perfume, featuring bottles styled like dolls and modelled on the singer and the four Japanese-American backing dancers who supported her at the time.
In a new interview with US magazine Allure, Stefani was asked what she had learned from that period of her career during the 2000s.
She told the publication that her father’s job at Yamaha had him travelling between their home in California and Japan for 18 years, which had influenced her.
“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,” she said.
Stefani later visited the Tokyo district in question, telling the magazine: “I said ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it’. I am, you know.”
The magazine also reported her as saying there is an “innocence” to her relationship with Japanese culture, referring to herself as a “super fan”.
“If (people are) going to criticise 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 time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American beautiful culture.
“(It) should be OK to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
The article claimed Stefani said twice that she was Japanese and once that she was “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl”.
The piece added that a representative for Stefani indicated the writer had “misunderstood what Stefani was trying to convey”.
Stefani also told the publication she identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx communities of Anaheim, California, where she grew up.
“The music, the way the girls wore their make-up, 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?”
Representatives of Stefani have been contacted for further comment.