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Fergie on Owning the Term ‘MILF’: You Can ‘Feel Sexy’ and Still ‘Be a Good Example’ as a Mom

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Kevin Mazur/Getty

Fergie‘s been baring her soul (and sleek physique!) for years — and the pop star says nothing will change that on her upcoming album.

The singer, 41, attended the 77th annual Two Ten Footwear Foundation Gala Wednesday night, where she performed a show-stopping set of her and the Black Eyed Peas’ hits. Ahead of the electric performance, PEOPLE caught up with Fergie about how husband Josh Duhamel, 44, and son Axl, 3, inspired her new album; why it’s important to her to own her sexuality as a mom; how she hopes new single “Life Goes On” will inspire people in the post-election “madness” and more.

Tonight’s gala is raising money for people of the shoe industry in need. You have a line of your own: Do you have a favorite pair in your shoe closet?

I have so many shoes overflowing now in my closet, it’s unbelievable. A special one to me is always gonna be the “M.I.L.F. Pump” because we got all the girls in the [“M.I.L.F. $” music] video to wear them in the spa. It was really a special thing for me to see all those girls wearing a shoe that I was a part of. It’s a white patent-leather pump.

The “M.I.L.F. $” video was an instant classic. How did it feel gathering a bunch of your mom squad pals — like Kim Kardashian West, Chrissy Teigen — to make an empowering statement about moms who own their sexuality?

It was a sentiment that I’d had for a long time. I’d been working on it before I was pregnant, then when I got pregnant and was actually breastfeeding, all these puns started coming into my head: That’s why you see all the signs and all the details in it. I mean, you couldn’t get any more puns into that video. It was marinating for a long time, so it was a really special moment—and it was a kind of nice thing for all of these women to come together: It was kind of freeing.

I’m sitting at home a lot of the time in flannels and t-shirts and yoga pants; to get to go and pour milk on myself for a weekend with the girls, it was a fun moment for all of us as moms! It was quite the release. I just feel like that word…Can we get over that that’s a word that we’re not supposed to say? [To me, it means] “Mom I’d Like to Follow”: It feels good to feel sexy and have a good time but also be a good example, be a “mom I’d like to follow” in different ways, like growing an organic garden or doing yoga or having a yoga retreat; there are different ways, like being a female politician…

Your hopeful new single “Life Goes On” was the perfect antidote to this post-election madness?

It was weird that it all felt like the right sentiment at the right time. The universe works in really weird ways. It just felt like the world needs healing, needs a pep talk, and this song was kind of pep talk to myself — from myself, to myself, kind of speaking in the mirror. Really, [when you listen to the song with headphones], the left speaker’s the sub-conscious voice, so if you listen to the whole left speaker, it’s all the answers. I just wanted to do something completely opposite of “M.I.L.F. $” and peel back the layers and show my vulnerable side because there’s so much vulnerability on my album that I just wanted people to know that it’s not just one thing.

What can we expect on your upcoming album — your first since 2006’s The Dutchess — which you’ve said will be called Double Dutchess?

It’s all over the map because if it wasn’t, that wouldn’t be true to who I am: That’s my musical taste. For subject matter, I just don’t have one thing to say. I’ve had plenty of life experiences since my last album, and I don’t feel like a Black Eyed Peas album is the time and place for me to emotionally explode — because it would be like, “Why is Fergie diving into her deepest sub-conscious in the middle of the party right now?” In the 10 years, I’ve had a lot of things to say, and I write in my journals — I’m old-school.

About the new album… 💚💚🌙🌙🌷🌷

A video posted by Fergie (@fergie) on

You’ve said the album will be very autobiographical. How has your perspective changed in the past 10 years, between becoming a wife and a mom?

There’s just so much — there’s different subject matter. There’s also like hip-hop, pop, dance, kind of tropical — I guess they’re calling it “trop-hop” — and some more modern stuff that I’ve played with; some throwback, some retro, because I like to do that and edu-ma-cate and see if people can pick the references. So it kind of really is a 10-year reunion to The Dutchess, but its not trying to be The Dutchess: It just is all over the place because that’s who I am. “Life Goes On” is the tip of the iceberg as far as where, emotionally, it goes. I just wanted to show people that, a little bit different of a sentiment, and it just happened to be the right moment.

Were there any songs that were particularly hard to get out in the studio?

There’s one called “Love Is Pain” that’s extremely emotional, that I did with Toby Gad as well, who I did “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with and “Life Goes On.” And I have another one with him called “Save It ‘Til Morning.” Yeah, a few subjects…They just came from my journals.