At 10:03 P.M., an oceanfront stage in the Bahamas goes dark. Brooke Shields falls silent, joining about 60 others in attendance—both celebrities and non—who are waiting with bated breath for the night’s big concert. The waves lap against the sand for a second longer before incantatory chanting emerges from the speakers. “Hungry … starving” the speakers blast as the stage lights quickly pulse.
Fergie, the self-proclaimed Double Dutchess and former ringleader of the Black Eyed Peas, stomps into the spotlight with a denim jacket propped up on massive shoulder pads. She’s here to perform 13 of her biggest tracks for the relaunch of The Cove Atlantis, a sweeping luxury complex on the edge of Nassau’s Paradise Island. It’s a surreal moment compounded by a full moon and incredible eats from celebrity chef José Andrés, who will open a restaurant at The Cove early next year called FISH.
A set list that includes songs both new (“L.A. Love”, “Milf”) and old (“Fergalicious”, “London Bridge”) climaxes with the actor Liev Schreiber climbing on stage to help Fergie sing B.E.P.’s hit “I Gotta Feeling.”
For over a decade Fergie kept fans waiting for the follow-up to 2006’s The Dutchess. During those intervening years, she had a child (Axl Jack), a divorce, and plenty of inspiration for new material. When Double Dutchess finally arrived, it included some hits, and a few songs that didn’t exactly blow up the charts. As the record spins on, her songs are finding new audiences—a whole new generation of Fergie fans to discover the sensual jams that define her back catalogue. Having produced so many bonafide bops, how does Fergie justify her criminally ignored songs? Here, she talks through Double Dutchess’ three most slept-on tracks.
FERGIE: I have a real fondness for “L.A Love” and some people didn’t think I should put it on the album because it was so far from the album release, but I don’t know, I was just proud of it. It’s kind of having a resurgence, so I’m glad I did. [I ended up working with DJ Mustard because] that was the time when DJ Mustard was having this crazy—I mean, every song I’ve heard on the radio has been DJ Mustard and YG. This whole L.A. movement was happening and I thought, “I have to be a part of this.” I’m L.A. through and through. So for me, I was like, “I’ve got to work with Mustard.” So we got in the studio and were playing some beats and “L.A Love” came on and it had an island, international feel to it. So I just went with that and started scatting over it and it became, basically, a call out. And I wanted to release the album right after that but it just wasn’t done.
A LITTLE WORK
FERGIE: Just the other day I was in Napa performing and people were really connecting with “A Little Work,” saying how they had lost their homes [to the fire] and “A Little Work” was about finding that battle within yourself, that warrior–especially with the first responders. A couple of them came up to me and shook my hand and said, “That song is really touching to me, just getting through the fires in Napa.” So it’s really about finding that inner solider inside of you and getting through that battle in your mind and pushing through anything negative that’s in your path.
FERGIE: “Enchaté” is a big collaboration because, first of all, I’m not even in the video! it’s Kendall [Jenner]’s video [laughs], but the song was dedicated to Carine Rotifeld because it reminded me of my album art shoot in Paris with Mert and Marcus and [production designer] Giovanni Bianco. So Carine and I were talking about all things that French girls do to be chic, and so I really dedicated that to her because it was really around that beautiful time of my album art shoot. And we shot the video the next day for “Just Like You” but I was writing “Enchanté” during that time.
[My son] Axl’s feature was a completely unplanned thing! I had the song at home and I was listening to it in my speakers, and we had dance parties, so I just put it on casually and it stuck in his head and he started singing it! When you hear your kid singing in French, it just kind of melted my little mommy heart and he was having fun doing it, so recording him doing it—I didn’t see anything wrong with that, it’s an activity for him! I would never put my kid through anything he didn’t want to do, but he was having fun with it! And he sings songs around the house all the time anyways.