Miami got its first taste of the new Black Eyed Peas Friday night at Ultra Music Festival. After a three-year absence, Fergie, will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo reunited on the main stage, kicking off their set with a remixed version of their hit “Let’s Get It Started” that featured an electronic dance beat.
It was a preview of the group’s new sound — a mix of their traditional hip-hop and pop vibe with a decidedly more electronic feel. While it may seem like a departure to fans of 2005’s Monkey Business, the upcoming album entitled The E.N.D is really an evolution of the group’s sound that follows their own appreciation of DJ-driven music.
“The DJ is the most important thing in music right now,” said will.i.am, who describes the group’s new sound as ‘electro-hop.’ It’s music that honors and celebrates the electronic sound that is hugely popular all over the world.
“In no way were we trying to invade the scene and claim it or anything,” he said. “Electronic dance music really has this new inspirational energy. It reminds me of what hip-hop was in the 1980s.”
“The music that we do is pretty much a fusion, so this album is adding one more tool to that fusion,” said Fergie. “It’s still just the Black Eyed Peas with an international fusion, which means an electro feel to it.”
The Black Eyed Peas’ first single called “Boom Boom Pow” has a banging dance club energy with some robotic-sounding Auto-Tune effects thrown in. It’s modeled on what a DJ would spin at a club.
“I really wanted to experiment with the dance floor, treating the song as if it was actually mixed,” said will.i.am who also produced the song. “By 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.”
Miami was an ideal spot for The Black Eyed Peas to debut their new material because of the city’s international feel.
“In America, Miami is an equivalent of Europe,” said will.i.am. “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.”
“We also have a special love for Miami, we’ve been coming here for many years. It’s always been a place to appreciate, to love, to always show respect to.”
Of course you can’t leave Miami without eating Cuban food. I asked the group about their favorite places to eat. Fergie lit up when talking about her favorite restaurant across from the Delano Hotel whose name she couldn’t remember. “It’s a 24 hour Cuban joint,” she said. “The reason I love it is because no matter what time I’m flying in or flying out I can get food and it’s amazing.”
Said will.i.am, “I usually ask the chongas to take me to their favorite place.”
Despite pursuing their own solo projects over the past few years, the group says it was easy to return to the recording studio.
“It’s so natural,” said Fergie. “It’s just like one of those old friends you go to school with and nothing ever changes. It’s just so organic.”
“Our individual talents only make us stronger,” said will.i.am. “We care about each other as people and support each other’s dreams and aspirations.”
The E.N.D. it seems is all about bringing things together – the group members’ individual talents, different genres of music, and most importantly, music fans.
“There’s two ways of bringing people together,” said will.i.am. “You can write a song about it or you can just actually make music that brings people together. This record is making music to bring people together.”