Gwen Stefani is a force to be reckoned with – whether it’s in music, fashion, television, on the Vegas stage or helping others. The star, who just announced she’ll be a judge
Travelgirl: We fell in love with you when you were the lead singer in No Doubt. How young were you when you realized you had this amazing talent?
Gwen Stefani: Well that’s very kind of you to say that. I don’t really think I had a moment where I realized I had talent. I was just always very inspired by music and fashion. I always loved to sing. I never thought I was a great singer – I just loved to sing physically and learn songs and music. My older brother, Eric, started No Doubt and I wanted to do everything my brother did. Back in the day, when we started doing music, it was all very organic. We were in a band about nine years before we even had any hits; we were doing it because it was our passion. And when I was new to writing songs, they just sort of channeled through my heart and I really just tried to figure out what I was feeling in the moment. I think what amazes me is how universal some of the themes I’ve written about have been and how much my music has touched people. It’s amazing how a song about a moment in my life means something to a total stranger. I’m just grateful that I get the opportunity to share my story through my music.
TG: When you were young did you have any mentors; anyone you can give a shout-out to who encouraged you along the way?
Gwen: I have definitely had some amazing mentors. My older brother was always extremely talented and just very energetic and a leader. I looked up to him so much. He was the one that was like “we’re going to be in a band and you’re going to sing.” Also my parents; I had these really creative parents. They really put their family first and showed a lot of love. I was also drawn to whatever I was good at. I wasn’t really good at school. I was better at music, fashion, art; those are the things that interested me and if I was interested, I was obsessed.
TG: You have made a major impact with your support and endowment for Cure 4 the Kids Foundation. We applaud your most worthwhile endeavor. Please tell us how you became interested and what sparked your involvement.
Gwen: I feel so lucky and grateful to have a residency in Vegas and the Vegas community has been so welcoming. Therefore, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something within the local Vegas community to give back. Partnering with Cure 4 the Kids is a perfect match. I love supporting and helping kids and Cure 4 the Kids is a non-profit organization that provides medical treatment to children facing a number of life-threatening conditions, like cancer. They assist children and their families regardless of insurance or the ability to pay. To be able to partner with Cure 4 the Kids Foundation has been very special to me.
TG: Please also tell our Travelgirl readers how we can donate and make a difference with Cure 4 the Kids Foundation.
Gwen: One dollar of every ticket sold to my residency goes to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation. It means so much to me, to be able to give back and to make a difference in children’s lives by doing what I do every show: singing songs about my life and each person that comes to check out the show makes a difference too. If you can’t make it out to a show though, there’s also a donation tab on their website.
TG: You are a fashion icon and an amazing entrepreneur. Please talk about L.A.M.B. and your inspiration for launching a successful fashion line.
Gwen: I was really late to fashion in so many ways. Growing up, I saw my mom and the way she dressed in old pictures from her in the 60s. I was always very fascinated by anything from the thrift store, old movies and anything vintage, so that was what sparked my love for fashion and anything retro. I don’t know why, but it was something that grabbed my attention. I feel like I was really naive about fashion and quite anti-fashion in the early days, thinking “I can’t get my hands on that, I’ll never be able to afford that, so I’ll just make my own thing” and I’d find something in a thrift store. I just really liked to find treasures. So, I eventually got into the fashion world and when I did and I got to actually meet these talented people, like Andrea Lieberman who grew up in New York; she was the first stylist I ever really worked with. We’d collaborate on making costumes and she had so much access to the fashion world that I didn’t know about because I was naive. Being able to do my own fashion line eventually was beyond a dream come true. It was way out of my league, but at the same time it came so naturally to me and my instinct was there. And to be able to surround myself with such talented people, that was one of the amazing things about my success — to be able to collaborate with all of these amazing people through my journey.
TG: For our Travelgirl readers – do you have any advice for packing for a trip? Any must haves and must take items?
Gwen: I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good about packing these days. A list is always helpful and it is really about being organized and prepared. When you really boil it down and you travel in a van, on a bus, or with all guys like I have and you had to do it all on your own, you really don’t need a lot.
TG: Is there anything you never leave home without?
Gwen: Definitely, I never leave home without my phone, but I think that would be most people’s answer.
TG: As a mom who travels with her children, what advice do you have for moms traveling with children – especially energetic boys?
Gwen: I just came in from LAX this morning and I was just walking through the terminal thinking, “wow I don’t really miss traveling with babies.” Traveling with babies can be really hard work. Traveling with kids can be challenging and requires a lot of planning. I love that the kids get to be a part of my travels to Vegas for my shows there.
TG: You were terrific as a judge on The Voice. What do you look for – or more precisely want to hear when judging?
Gwen: Coaching on The Voice was very inspiring and very good timing for me in my life to do something like that. It made me reflect on everything I’ve done in the past and it kind of gave me my confidence back, because I was able to go “wow, I did all of that.” Watching these artists get up there and go through so much pressure and learn in this boot camp in such a short amount of time is something I don’t think I could have really done. So, it was a really amazing experience and sometimes you just can’t really put your finger on what you’re looking for, but it’s something about the ease that someone might have that connects. The gift that’s in them — maybe it’s not necessarily the most technically great voice, but it’s the personality, the heart and the thing you can’t really put words to. It’s the magic of whatever that gift is they’re given and whatever way they can be emotional with the way they sing – that’s what I’m drawn to. It was so inspiring to be around so much talent.
TG: You certainly showed your competitive side on The Voice. Did you have to learn how to stand up for yourself or did you always have that “I can conquer the world” attitude?
Gwen: Wow, that’s interesting that you saw a competitive side because I’m not a competitive person. In fact, competition makes me really uncomfortable. It was probably one of the reasons I almost didn’t do the show, because I couldn’t picture myself pitching myself and trying to fight, especially against a very competitive person like Adam Levine. Blake and Adam were so good at that. The longer I was on the show, the more I understood what I needed to do to “pitch” for an artist and to go for it.
TG: You take multi-tasking to a new level. You have so many interests, projects and businesses, a growing family and a happy relationship. How do you make it all work?
Gwen: The only way to accomplish all I do is to have an amazing team of people around me that help keep me organized. I think when you become a mother you don’t have a choice; you sort of have to get it together and be on time. You must be organized because you’re responsible for everybody. It’s something that I’ve had to learn how to do and I’ve also learned to manage my time. It’s not possible to do everything well every single day; one day you’re going to fail at one thing and then you’re going to be good at another. You just kind of spread it all out over time. It takes a lot of planning and organization but I’m good at it and I love spending time with my kids and family. Being a mom is such a blessing for me. I also love getting to tell my story through my music. I have a heart and passion for creativity, which drives my business-related projects; that’s why a Vegas residency felt so right at this moment in my life. I get to be creative and perform and I don’t have to be away from my family!
TG: Your residency in Las Vegas is a huge success. How did you adapt your act to the Vegas audience? What is the key to success in Vegas and do you think you’ll do another one in the future?
Gwen: Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had played in Vegas many times throughout my career, but to have a residency is completely different. Having a Las Vegas residency has been beyond a dream come true. It’s something I could have never imagined I’d ever have the opportunity to do. The Vegas show challenged me in a whole new creative way and I get to be a bit more theatrical than I’ve been in the past. Being in the same room every night creates a completely different kind of energy and emotion; it’s quite different in comparison than being on tour. The Vegas audiences are unique because they are so varied every single night; it’s such an eclectic mix of people from all over the world and it creates a really unique energy. I could go on and on. I think it’s the perfect time in my life to do the show and it’s quite therapeutic to be able to put my life on stage and have people come out and have this nostalgic, special kind of night with me.
TG: I know you visit Oklahoma often these days. I’ve been there many times. Excluding Blake Shelton, what else do you love about Oklahoma?
Gwen: There’s something about going to Oklahoma that fulfills a need inside me that I didn’t even know I had. It’s a need for space, nature and freedom. You don’t really think about it until you have the freedom of going somewhere like Oklahoma where it’s just miles of untouched nature and it’s so beautiful. It’s really something I didn’t even know I was craving. I feel really blessed to travel there. It’s a place where I can unwind, just have fun and not think about anything. My family really enjoys it as well.
TG: Travelgirl wants to know – what’s your favorite travel destination and what’s on your travel bucket list?
Gwen: It’s hard to pick a favorite destination because every culture I’ve visited has fascinated me. There are a lot of places I haven’t been to but would love to visit. Now that my family is getting older, one thing that I’ve noticed is that time goes by so quickly that I love to make memories with my kids and family. Ultimately, we really like to just be home, but when I look back at the different places we’ve traveled as a family, even if it was short little vacation, it really cements these little blocks of memories in our minds. I think that’s super important for a family. I’d love to take my children to the places that I have been fortunate to experience that have really enriched my life. I think you can find beauty in every single culture, so I look forward to having a time where I can take the children to places like Europe and Asia.