According to lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, The Pussycat Dolls have been on tour practically since the day they were signed to Interscope Records, with a breakneck schedule of non-stop live performing, recording, promotional appearances and music video shoots. The gypsy aspect of the career of The Pussycat Dolls and their lives over the last several years is exhausting, even to me, as I listen to Nicole recount the “PCD” madness that has transformed her once quieter existence.
Raised in a strict Catholic home, Nicole Scherzinger’s wardrobe and demeanor were a far cry from the image that she now embodies as part of the ultimate sex kitten pop vocalist group. Even Pussycat Dolls founder, Robin Antin recalls that when Scherzinger first walked in for her life changing audition the outfit she donned was way too conservative for Pussycat Doll taste and “not cute.” She was every ounce the buttoned up woman when Antin first discovered her incredible singing voice and recruited her as part of the new incarnation of The Pussycat Dolls as recording artists. Nicole’s talent was undeniable, and she landed the gig in spite of her timid appearance.
Eventually Nicole Scherzinger’s success became a point of pride for her conservative family in spite of her new more provocative and sexually charged image. Nicole’s two worlds eventually reconciled and merged (even her priest now approves).
While talking with Nicole about the branding of The Pussycat Dolls (clothing, action figures, lingerie and cosmetics are all being marketed under the PCD umbrella) she expresses surprising indifference to the group’s merchandising empire and makes a point to remind me throughout our conversation that she is simply a singer, no more, no less. Professionally speaking, she is not particularly interested in anything else. The girl just wants to sing.
With two studio albums under their belt (2005’s “PCD” followed up by 2008’s “Doll Domination”), The Pussycat Dolls have a roster of hit singles to prove their commercial viability, as well as impressive vocal prowess and a distinctive style. The group is never at a loss for cheering crowds or a laundry list of A-list producers and recording artists lining up to collaborate.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): I know you guys are running from city to city on Britney’s Circus tour. Where are you now?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): We literally just got in ten minutes ago to Tacoma, Washington. We were in Vancouver last night.
PR.com: Are you stopping for the holiday this weekend (it was Easter weekend at the time of our interview), or are you performing straight through?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Unfortunately we are performing straight through. I guess it’s fortunately, but I love Easter and I really didn’t want to work on Easter, but it will be fun.
PR.com: Tell me how The Pussycat Dolls ended up getting on the Britney Spears Circus tour.
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): We just have really dope people and she’s got dope people, and they thought it was a really genius idea to put us together. It’s like the biggest tour this year. It’s so awesome for us to be able to have the opportunity to be here on tour with Britney.
PR.com: Who contacted who?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I don’t know, but if I’m making it up I’d like to say they contacted us (laughs).
PR.com: What is the current dynamic between the original concept with the Pussycat Dolls burlesque dance troupe and The Pussycat Dolls singing group? Are they two separate entities now?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Yeah, they’re pretty much two separate entities. The concept of The Dolls started almost fifteen years ago with Robin Antin, and it was a more burlesque inspired dance group that had underground nightclub shows and would have celebrity guest stars come in and do more stylistic dance and songs of those times, and in that style of music. [It was like] the sixties and seventies style of music. Now, ever since The Pussycat Dolls got signed to Interscope Records and Universal it’s become a recording group. So now there are only five members of the group as opposed to how ever many dancers there were before, [plus] the guest celebrities that they would have come in. Now it’s a recording group. It’s cool because we still have The Pussycat Doll lounge in Vegas, and different places that kind of pay homage to where it began and where it started from. But it’s really quite evolved into something really unique, and its own pop phenomenon. The main driving force for that has been the music, so I think it’s two separate things but part of the same family. But they brought me on to do the album. We got signed and got a recording deal, and they decided to make The Pussycat Dolls a recording group.
PR.com: Did you ever dance with the original Pussycat Dolls?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): The week that I had to guest audition for [the group] I performed at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room in Hollywood. That was part of my audition, but after that, no.
PR.com: Is Robin Antin choreographing for you?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Oh yeah, she is still very well involved. She is choreographing, Mikey Minden is choreographing, and she’s styling. She’s so involved in The Pussycat Dolls. She’s always doing something, either putting on a lingerie line or finding the next Pussycat Doll on TV. [Robin] is the one that really works that side of the branding. And we always have input, but my role in the group is primarily just music. That’s what I like to do and I stick with what I know.
PR.com: I know that you come from a very strict Catholic upbringing. What did your parents think of your ambitions with music? And how do they feel about some of the more provocative stuff with The Pussycat Dolls as far as some of the lyrics and the costumes?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): In the beginning it was a little hard for my mom. She really didn’t like the name, The Pussycat Dolls, and she still wants to change the name just to The Dolls. But in the end my family is unbelievable. My grandfather is a priest and they support The Pussycat Dolls because they believe in us. And like I said, the music is our driving force and the music is great! It’s quality pop music. I think we get more of the stereotypes from the name and from the history of The Dolls. But it’s really turned into a great, empowering, fearless radical pop group with good music.
PR.com: Would you label yourselves pop, or more of a hybrid of pop, R&B and hip hop?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): We’re a pop group, but we’ve got hybrids of all kinds of music. We’ve got R&B influences in there, definitely, and on this album we have alternative influences as well.
PR.com: With the song “Jai Ho” which was on the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire, you did a remix cover…
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I got with other writers and we added a few different melodies, pretty much stuck to the same song except I did my own English adaptation. [The movie] is original and powerful and it makes you think. The music and the story are infectious. I don’t care who you are; I feel you’ll be touched by this movie, and it was an honor for me to be able to write to “Jai Ho” and to be a part of that, and to work with A.R. Rehman.
PR.com: Tell me about The Pussycat Dolls on tour. What can fans expect during shows?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): The Pussycat Dolls on stage are pretty fierce! We’re a full live show. We’re working and you got to get up and work. We’re all about connecting with the audience and having a good time. It’s crazy, live singing and crazy, live dancing full out, full throttle and a lot of stamina and energy. It’s very interactive and undeniable. We make you get up on your feet. In the end, I don’t care who you are, hopefully we’ve won you over (laughs).
PR.com: I heard that you said you’d be afraid to challenge Britney Spears to a dance-off.
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I was doing an interview the other day and they were like, “Would you challenge Britney Spears to a dance-off?” And I was like, “No! I’m not going to challenge Britney Spears to a dance-off!” And then I read everywhere saying I’m afraid to challenge Britney Spears to a dance-off. I’m a cool chick, man. I’m not going to challenge Britney Spears to a dance-off. I’m on tour with her! We can dance together (laughs).
PR.com: (Laughs) Sometimes you wonder where these sound bytes come from.
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Exactly! I’d have to say, I would challenge anyone to a sing-off though. That would be something to see.
PR.com: Are you most in your element when you’re singing a ballad or more of a fast paced pop song?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I like ballads. I’m a singer. I’m a more old-school songbird singer. But I love everything. I love singing “I Hate This Part” every night. And I love singing “Stickwitu” to the fans, and I love singing “Don’t Cha.” I love it all.
PR.com: What’s it like being on the road with a group of girls?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Crazy! It’s cool, we’re like a sisterhood and we’ve been on the road for five years now, it feels like. We’re some pretty tough chicks. We’re still out here hustling and it’s awesome. We’ve been really blessed. We’re so blessed that we even got to come out with another album. We’re on this huge tour and we’re making it work out. It’s non stop. We just got off of our European tour out here with Britney. We’re going on our Australia and Asia tour right after this.
PR.com: Do you interact with Britney backstage? At one point you said you hadn’t seen or spoken to her.
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): It’s busy and these stadiums and venues are huge, so you’re in two different sides of the arena. Then you go and you perform, and then you head off to the next city. I think the girls have seen her a couple times, but I’m always in and out. We’re both so busy.
PR.com: Do you love to travel, or are you more of a homebody who gets homesick on tour?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): It’s funny because if I were to be at home I’d be like, “Oh, I’m a big world traveler.” But now that I’m a big world traveler I’m like, “Oh, I’m a homebody.” (Laughs) You always want what you can’t have. To be honest with you I do miss home. I love seeing the world even though it’s [only] hours that you get to see a new place, or days or whatever. But I do miss being at home for sure. I miss my family and my loved ones, and I miss my bed.
PR.com: So far which country or city has been the most interesting experience for you? Any cool memories from a certain stop on the tour?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I’ve always loved New York City. They’re amazing. They’re always a great audience. And then we were in Canada, and I remember we had a show in Montreal and I thought they were one of the best audiences. They were pretty amazing.
PR.com: What projects are next for The Pussycat Dolls when the Circus tour wraps up?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): We’re just going back on our own tour, “Doll Domination,” all throughout Australia and Asia, and Lady Gaga is coming out with us.
PR.com: The Pussycat Dolls have collaborated with a lot of different artists in the past. Who are you collaborating with next?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I’m going to start working on my solo album again, and still working on The Dolls as well. I want to collaborate with Will.i.am and The Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga, that’s my girl who we’re going to be on tour with anyway. A.R. Rehmen, we did “Jai Ho” together and he’s an unbelievable producer, and Timbaland.
PR.com: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): I always wanted to be Whitney Houston growing up. Then as I got older, everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday to Roberta Flack, Sade to Alanis Morissette, and Tina Turner has inspired me a lot too.
PR.com: Is there anyone whose persona you’ve borrowed when you’re on stage and you need that extra confidence?
Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls): Oh yeah, man! I steal from Tina Turner. I try to steal from Mick Jagger, the way he prances around stage and the poise he has on stage. But I love Tina Turner’s attitude and sass. I steal from her all the time, especially being the lead singer of this group, The Pussycat Dolls, to be fearless and just have that attitude and that soul behind you.
The Pussycat Dolls will continue to tour with Britney Spears through May 2, 2009, and will continue on the Australian and Asian legs of their tour with guest star Lady Gaga beginning May 16, 2009. Visit www.pcdmusic.com for dates and cities.
The Pussycat Dolls latest studio album, “Doll Domination” is currently available in stores.