Gwen Stefani repeatedly said she’s Japanese and has also identified with multiple cultures outside of her own Italian-Irish American heritage in a bizarre new interview.

It’s been 19 years since Californian-born Stefani released her debut solo album Love.Angel.Music.Baby, which was awash with imagery and caricatures of Japanese Harajuku culture. It was definitely an era for an objectively white artist that simply wouldn’t fly in 2023. Not without a massive amount of understandable backlash for cultural appropriation.

But when she was asked if she’s learned anything from that particularly problematic era in a recent interview with a Filipina-American journalist at Allure, Stefani responded with the story of how her dad travelled regularly between Japan and the US for work, which was her first exposure to the country and its deep culture.

It’s not the first time she’s shared that particular tale about her dad, but what she said next is truly baffling.

She said she came to the realisation that she, too, is Japanese when she finally visited Japan and the Harajuku region herself.

“I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.’,” she said.

“I am, you know.”

Suppose that’s a resounding “no” on the whole learning thing, then.

That wasn’t the last time she mentioned she thinks she’s actually Japanese in the interview, either.

She stressed that she thinks she’s “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl” to try and explain (or defend) herself further, noting that she saw the music, makeup and clothes of the girls she grew up with as her “identity” too.

“Even though I’m an Italian-American — Irish or whatever mutt that I am — that’s who I became because those were my people, right?”

No, that’s absolutely not how it works.

Cultural appropriation surely isn’t a foreign concept to Stefani, who has repeatedly faced backlash for wearing elements of other cultures over the years.

Hell, she came under fire as recently as last year when she appeared with dreadlocked braids and an outfit in Jamaican flag colours in the video clip for Sean Paul‘s “Light My Fire”.

In 2007 she even went so far as to try and trademark the word “Harajuku” in the United States, with her lawyers arguing that the “typical” consumer in the US would associate the term with her products before the Japanese district.

Who knows whether this latest mind-boggling moment from the woman who has been dubbed “Mother Appropriation” will actually challenge her thinking, but you’d surely like to hope so.

Image: Getty Images / Theo Wargo