Gwen Stefani has finally addressed allegations over the years that she culturally appropriates the Japanese Harajuku subculture.
"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," she told Billboard.
"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 ... 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!"
During her Love. Angel. Music. Baby, Stefani regularly appeared with her "Harajuku Girls" on stage.
But she says that she became enamored with the culture after a visit to Japan when she was just 21 years old.
"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," she said adding, "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."