At Ultra Music Festival 11, the Black Eyed Peas performed together on the main stage for the first time in more than two years. Fergie and co. will release their fifth studio album, The E.N.D., which stands for Energy Never Dies, on June 9.
In 2005, BEP’s Monkey Business earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the song “Don’t Punk with my Heart,” while “My Humps” achieved international commercial success.
Below is a transcript of the press conference the band held before their set.
Q: Hip-hop is dead in Europe and you guys combine hip-hop with electronic music. What do you have to say about this movement?
A: [Will.i.am.] In Europe, Australia, Brazil, L.A., N.Y., electro and dance music is really this new youth inspirational energy and it reminds me of what hip-hop was like in the 1980’s. 2009, it’s like electro-hop and I’m really influenced by a lot of cats like David Guetta. So this next Black Eyed Peas record is really trying to dabble in that world and it’s honoring and celebrating the sound that is really taking over the world.
Taboo: Hip-hop has always been the foundation of what The Black Eyed Peas represents. We just expand and just try to get influenced by other forms of music and other styles and just love it and appreciate everything.
Fergie: Keeping with that international feel, the music that we do is always pretty much a fusion so this album is just adding one more tool to that fusion. We’ve got a Bollywood-style song. It’s still just a Black Eyed Peas international fusion with that kind of electro feel to it.
Q: [Are there any] plans for songs in Spanish?
A: [Taboo] I think that’s for the future. I think that right now we have a mission, that’s Black Eyed Peas first and foremost and I eventually, myself, being of Latino descent, I want to be able to come out with an album.
Fergie: You have to remember that we haven’t picked exactly what songs are on the record. We have a lot done and we’re in the process of picking right now.
Q: How do you guys feel about the Miami vibe, especially Fergie, with the outfits?
A: [Will.i.am] As far as tonight and Miami: in America, Miami is the equivalent of Europe. In Europe you have Italy, France and Amsterdam. And America really is Miami, right? Because you have Brazil, Cuba, Dominica and you have people from Europe who come here and N.Y. and L.A. and it’s like the meeting place for America. It’s great to be here at the Winter Music Conference playing at Ultra Fest just to see the melting pot of all the inspiration from around the world coming to meet here. To show their new beats, show their new sets, their new remixes and it’s a great opportunity for us.
Apl.de.ap: We actually remixed some of our old songs and made it more like electro dance beats.
Taboo: And we also have a special love for Miami. We’ve been coming here for many years. We started with Wyclef’s Carnival that he was doing here in Miami and the MTV Awards so it’s always been a place to appreciate and to love, to show respect to.
Fergie: The fashion in Miami is so great especially right now because people are walking around in either bathing suits or full-on club kid looks. And I love that because nobody is getting strange looks, everyone just accepts it [and] people can be who they want to be. People are just having a great time here right now. I really want to get a house on the water someday because it’s so beautiful and the people just like to have a good time and they just like to have a fiesta and that’s what we’re all about. So I really feel that the color inspires me. We’re really going for this black-and-white thing with pops of color and so I’m loving seeing all the bright pinks, all the bright neon colors, all those flashes of color.
Taboo: We can’t forget about the Cubano food because the Cuban food is amazing too.
Will.i.am: I want to meet me a chonga.
Q: Do you think that you guys as artists, what makes you guys so great, is that you put just as much stock in the beat as you do in the lyrics and the song itself?
A: [Will.i.am] As far as the beats, you know, I really enjoy making beats whether they get placed or people sing over them or we sing over them or not. I just like making beats. “Boom Boom Pow” is like an experiment because when DJs play records they probably play the intro, the first verse, the chorus and then they’re done with the song. So I wanted to make a song where there was really one whole verse and about the time you got to the middle of the song there’s a whole different beat which inspires the DJ to play more of it and about time that whole section is over, the pow part, the song is over in three minutes. I really wanted to experiment, I wanted to treat the song as if it was already mixed and I’m proud of how it’s performing and how it makes people dance when they play it and the excitement it inspires. It’s pretty fresh and it’s hard too. Angst. Energy.
Fergie: Aggressive. And the thing about “Boom Boom Pow” is probably not what people predicted what we would come out with because it’s not just that typical hip-hop song with the chorus and very traditional. It’s kind of a little bit left. But that’s kind of who we are, always. We’re always trying to push the envelope and we’re a bunch of misfits ourselves that came together and so it’s kind of right for us, even though it’s probably not what was predicted.
Q: Being in a band and having so much talent as individuals, do you see it almost as a blessing or as a curse to keep the band together when all of you as individuals are extremely talented?
A: [Will.i.am] I think that it’s a blessing. We look out for each other and it’s great to have these guys not only as family, but as friends.
Fergie: It’s so natural. If we haven’t seen each other in awhile, it’s like one of those old friends you went to school with and nothing ever changes. It’s just so organic and just to be back on the stage with these guys. I’m really excited for tonight. It’s our first time doing “Boom Boom Pow.” It’s my birthday. It’s Miami. The weather’s great. It just feels right.
Taboo: It’s good to be supportive of each individual mission or adventure that everybody goes on and we know that at the end of the day we have each other as a family and the unit is strong. We’re just glad to be able to do that.
Q: Will.i.am, you were very influential to the Obama campaign and election. Is any of that reflected in the album?
A: [Will.i.am] Yes and no. 2008 was the time to put fire in the youth and to activate themselves and now, you know, that the world sees what America is about truly from the people, I just want to entertain cats. That was the season to be political. I don’t want to use that platform to be like the political, rapper dude. I just want to go back to my life and entertain and inspire good music. There are two ways of bringing people together: you can write a song about it or you can actually make music that brings people together. So this record is music to bring people together and showing through actions rather than words.
Q: You guys haven’t released an album since 2005. Four years. Why did you guys wait so long?
A: [Will.i.am] So we released a record in 2005, but to us, that record cycle lasted until 2007 because we were on tour all over the planet. We were gonna go to the moon but things got messed up so we couldn’t schedule it. And then you know from there we launched Fergie’s record [The Dutchess] and that was a monster of its own, right? And then I released my record [Songs about Girls] and then I did the political thing and then we started working on the Black Eyed Peas record and we’re still figuring out what songs are gonna be on the record. We recorded something like 60 songs, 100-something. Some shit like that. Some instrumentals, some just chants. To me, the DJ, that’s the most important thing in music right now.
Q: [paraphrased] If you want to talk more about the new record…
A: [Fergie] I definitely think that this record is based in the clubs. That’s where I think it’ll live…I’m excited because I’m going to get a workout every show. Just on a personal note. Especially in these times right now, it’s important for people to feel good and have somewhere to go to just forget all their other issues. They have to have some sort of escape and we feel this is a very positive escape. Let’s go to the club, let’s get on the dance floor, forget everything for that moment and have a great rime.
Apl.de.ap: And for the direction of the record, we actually went out there and actually partied it up and started going to electro clubs and studied and get influenced.
Will.i.am: In no way were we trying to invade a scene or claim it…that world has been like so appreciating that we’re influenced and love the music that they’re making and they’ve been so welcoming. It’s been a blast making this album.
Q: How about the green movement? Are you going to help with the environment, global warming, climate change and all that?
A: [Will.i.am] If you go to dipdive.com, me and Al Gore. I did a whole bunch of content about going green…There’s a whole bunch of things that I’m doing, we’re doing. So it’s one thing to cheerlead something and then you drink water bottles as you’re talking about the green movement. It’s just so hypocritical. It’s one thing to enlighten people and to point to them as you’re corralled in a big audience to get their knowledge on solutions to push so that water companies use glass instead of plastic.
Q: Do you have any favorite restaurants in Miami you have to get to?
A: [Will.i.am] I usually ask the chongas to take me to their favorite restaurants.
Fergie: This is my favorite restaurant in Miami. It’s the one that’s right across from the Delano. It’s a 24-hour Cuban joint and the reason I love it is because it’s 24 hours so no matter what time, I’m flying in or flying out, I can get food and it’s amazing.
Q from The Miami Hurricane: Fergie, how are you celebrating your birthday tonight?
A: Well, we’re gonna perform here, Winter Music Conference. It’s exciting. A bunch of friends are in town, we’re gonna go to the FontaineBleau, dance a bit and have a good time. My boys are going to DJ at it by the way.