Black Eyed Peas on fans, fatherhood and the future

Rowan Faife

How has one of the biggest bands on the planet adapted to the COVID-age? Black Eyed Peas spoke to Rowan Faife about the ways it shaped their new single, "Shake Ya Boom Boom". 

RD: What UK cities do you have fond memories of live shows in?

apl.de.ap: Two UK shows that stick out to me were actually recent ones. The first was the One Love Manchester benefit with Ariana Grande. After that horrific incident at her show beforehand, it was a really powerful moment for the crowd to get back together and not be dominated by fear.

Another show that sticks out is when we [performed at the] Royal Albert Hall to promote [our album] Masters of the Sun.

taboo, will.i.am and apl.de.ap look to camera in strong sunshine

RD: Your fanbase is cross-generational. When you’re in the studio, who are you making music for?

Taboo: We make music for the world but it starts with us loving what we do first! We are our own biggest critics and our own biggest supporters.

RD: Masters of the Sun Vol. 1 (2018) was pitched as a sequel to Bridging the Gap (2000), and returned to your original, more hip-hop-heavy sound. What was the goal with 2020's TRANSLATION?

Taboo: TRANSLATION is what we are feeling right now in these crazy, uncertain times. We felt we needed to bring the light, joy and feel-good music. 

RD: How would you describe your personal connections to hip hop?

Taboo: Eventually we will have a Volume 2 for Masters of the Sun but for now we are still rocking TRANSLATION. Hip hop culture is always part of Black Eyed Peas as a crew and as individuals—no matter what style of music we are influenced by.

taboo, will.i.am and apl.de.app stand against a red background

RD: The video for your new collab with Static & Ben El Shake Ya Boom Boom is clearly inspired by the Tik Tok generation—have you found yourself spending more time engaging with social media as both creators and consumers since lockdown started?

apl.de.ap: Definitely! Early on during quarantine, I thought about how much we used to use social media to see how different everyone's world is now…

As we were all trapped at home binging Netflix, how boring would that content have been? Wrong! There are some really creative and talented people out there making gems of 2020.

RD: Does it feel strange creating party records in a time where few people are able to go out and dance to them?

apl.de.ap: Not at all. It definitely makes me miss the stage and how electrifying this album would be to perform, but we think people need some upbeat music to uplift their spirits.

RD: How will the Black Eyed Peas live show experience change once normal service, post-COVID, is resumed? Have you enjoyed the break, or have you been eager to get back on stage?

apl.de.ap: I'm not completely sure, to be honest! Last year we were continually performing in front of huge audiences: 80,000 to 100,000 people. That sounds so crazy now! [He laughs].

"Taboo is really an ideal father. He always manages to make time for his children"

When we did Masters of the Sun though we had implemented technology components like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality apps to complete the experience. This year we used XR [augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technology] stages to allow our show to interact with AR which was really fun.

RD: Has the pandemic changed your group dynamic? Have you managed to stay in touch and create as easily as you’d hoped?

apl.de.ap: It's brought us closer. We've quarantined together a couple of times to work on new music and we made some positive experiences from this pandemic. We're a lot more active on our group texts.

the black eyed peas stand facing camera in black and white photograph

RD: Is there a degree of friendly competition between yourselves as rappers and musicians?

Taboo: We always have a respectful way of bringing the best out of each other. We are competitive with ourselves to keep pushing and strive to always bring our A GAME!

RD: You all have distinct public personas, but what are some interests or qualities about each of you that people might not expect?

apl.de.ap: Just how loving a dad Taboo is to his kids; how really he’s an ideal father. He always manages to make time for his children—it's beautiful to see.

Will? How much he reads. We all know he works a lot, and his brain is always moving, but how up to date he is with culture, with news, I still don't know how he finds the time.

 

Static & Ben El’s new single "Shake Ya Boom Boom" ft. Black Eyed Peas is out now.

About the interviewer: Rowan Faife is a rapper, YouTuber and events promoter. He worked as a consultant and lyric writer for the BBC-backed film, VS. He tweets at @twitteurgh