The embodiment of sexy is the major thing audiences have come to associate with Nicole Scherzinger. As the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, much of their success can be attributed to the sex sells mantra. The groups unique mix of edgy, gymnastic defying, dance routines and pop songs with urban sensibilities (thanks to production nodes from Timbaland, Cee-Lo and Will.I.Am) have sold over six million records worldwide, and in the process helped define a legion of fans.However for the Hawaiian, Russian and Filipino lead woman, the Pussycat Dolls was merely a steppingstone for a solo career that has eluded her for the past 10 years! At 29, Nicoles story of fame and the many setbacks she faced is by no means unusual, but her determination is!With the approaching release of her solo album Her Name Is Nicole, we find out just why it took her so long.AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What inspired you to call your album Her Name Is Nicole? It brings to mind [snaps fingers] diva connotations wouldn’t you say?Nicole Scherzinger: I hope so! [laughs] One of the first songs that me and my friends wrote for the album two years ago was Whatever U Like with Polow the Don and Sean Garrett. In the song it says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I know what you want! She’s hot as a stove. Her name is Nicole.” Ever since that happened, we joked around with it but it really stuck. It felt like a cool proper introduction away from the Pussycat Dolls. I wanted my fans to know that there is a whole other artist who has things they want to share and her name is Nicole! AHHA: Some critics would say that the Pussycat Dolls was your solo effort and that the rest of the girls were just eye candy. So why put out a solo album? Nicole: I don’t think that necessarily. It was an honor for me to be the one out of the Pussycat Dolls to really be involved musically and front the group. But I could never do it alone, and it is a group effort, and I think all of the girls had a unique and special role to play in their own way. Different youths out there relate to us differently. I was excited to take on the challenge to front the group, because for me that meant getting the message across and helping girls out there find out who they are, embracing their identity and owning it, so that was very important to me. AHHA: How would you say you’re solo stuff is different from the PCD’s?Nicole: The Pussycat Dolls were really special to me, but I really wanted to do this album because it’s the essence, the heart, of who Nicole is. I’m not always strong and fearless and really confident. I have the other more vulnerable side to me. I have good days and I have harder days. On this album, I kept in mind a lot of my fans and youthful audience with songs like March. March is a song that’s very powerful to me that I wrote and it’s one of the last songs. It’s about never giving up on your dreams and its about what I went through to get where I am today. There’s another song called Happily Never After for all my girls out there. It’s about finding your self worth and never settling. It’s about not being in a relationship and being dependent on no one else. I think people will get to know me more. I think people can see the other sides to me that people will relate to. AHHA: The Pussycat Dolls have a negative image as being too sexy. Would you say that the Pussycat Dolls are good role models?Nicole: The Pussycat Dolls have transitioned over time. It got its start ten years ago in an underground club in LA, and it was definitely for an underground adult scene. When they started a recording group, they asked me to come in and I did the album and it became an international success. I would say the Pussycat Dolls is an empowering group and our motto is to “keep is sexy and sassy. That’s how my mom raised me, and when I came into the group I wasn’t going to jeopardize who I was. AHHA: You were a back up singer before you auditioned for the US reality show Popstars. You got chosen, had a No. 1 single with Eden’s Crush and then the label folded. You’ve had an incredible journey to get where you are today. What spurred you on during those difficult times? Nicole: It never comes easy. Triumphs and victory comes with a great, great challenge. I was never ever going to throw in the towel. I was never going to give up. I’ve been in three other bands before doing this solo album. I had studied music in school and I put myself through college. I’ve done musical theatre, I’ve worked my way up supporting myself and there was this thing inside me that told me that it was gonna happen because I believed it and I knew it in my heart. You learn from those things; like honestly when Eden’s Crush didn’t work out, I knew it was a blessing. I knew that it was going to be another platform to where I was supposed to be. I thought Pussycat Dolls was going to be the great platform for me to go solo. I always say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. After all these years of trying to get a solo deal, I’ve been waiting ten years, and I feel that I’m just at the beginning. I’m looking at everything like its brand new and I’m not taking it for granted. AHHA: You started doing back up singing for a rock band. Would you say that you have a special affinity to rock music, and if so what do you make of you’re status as an R&B vixen?Nicole: Music in general lives in me; all types of music. I love classical, folk, rock roll, R&B, soul. I love rock music, but before I was doing that I was doing musical theatre. [laughs] I was able to incorporate that on my solo album. I was able to try new things and go places I won’t have been able to with the pussycat dolls. Like I worked with Snow Patrol and did an alternative rock song called Just Say Yes. I also worked with Sting. I did a rock/Hip-Hop song with Timbaland and then I got to do some more R&B stuff with Ne-Yo and Akon. To me, its all the same thing; it all comes full circle. The best thing about music is that you can combine them all. Its a melting pot just like us today [and my background]. Its who I am with my Hawaiian-Russian-Filipino blood. AHHA: Your exotic looks appeal to both pop and urban markets. Do you think that’s the reason for your success with the PCD? Nicole: Yes but it wasn’t always like that, and I had to make my own place. Sometimes people are like “where do I fit in,” especially in this day and age where there’s such a beautiful mixture of all types of backgrounds. I wasn’t Black, I wasn’t white, I wasn’t Spanish or Latina or Indian. I was a mixture, and I’m proud of that because I feel like I’m a new face that represents the new age of culture of people. It wasn’t always that easy for me, and sometimes I wondered why I couldn’t go for the lead roles when I was acting and was always the Spanish girl or the lead girls friend. Or why every time that I turned on to MTV there was no one who looked like me. But I’m here, and I’m here to stay and times are changing and I’m proud of that. I love my background; that’s who I am. It’s in my music, and it separates me from other artists. AHHA: Some of the songs Ne-Yo wrote on your album were originally meant for Britney Spears‘ new album. Were you aware of this?Nicole: I know one of the songs he gave me called Happily Never After was originally meant for Britney and my take is it was meant for me because I’m singing it! I feel like the song was always meant to be mine. I lived the actual story in the song, and when I first heard it I cried and thought I have to sing this and make it my own because I lived this. The other song is a beautiful sing that he was inspired to write and he allowed me to finish it and it really spoke to me. I think at the end of the day everything happens for a reason and it was a blessing for me to have this music and to call it my own. All I care about is bringing the truth and the heart into music and his music. AHHA: Are you a fan of Britney? Nicole: Its always hard to judge other people until you’ve walked in their shoes. I don’t like to judge other people, but do I think this is her at her best? No! And I only wish that upon people, for them to be always at their best mentally, physically, spiritually and in everyway. This is not [Britney] at her best. I wish her well and that’s she takes care of her kids and herself. I think that’s the most important. I think everything else is subordinate to that. AHHA: Youve said in previous interviews that you dont have a lot of girl friends. Do you find that a lot of girls are jealous of you?Nicole: Sometimes, but I like real people. I’m very spiritual; I have a strong faith. My grandfather was a priest, and I grew up that way. It keeps me grounded; it keeps me who I am and happy. It’s hard sometimes to find people without motives, so I just keep my tight group of friends who we inspire each other and make each other feel good and positive, and that’s all I need. You don’t have to be friends with everybody and make everyone else happy as long as you’re being the best that you can be. That’s all you need. AHHA: As usual theres the dating merry-go round where people automatically link you to whoever you work with so lets clear this up.Nicole: Cool!AHHA: Are you/have you ever dated Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas?Nicole: Oh man, no! [laughs] We’ve never dated; he’s like my brother. We had a big old laugh when that came out because we’re just the bestest of friends and that’s it!AHHA: How about Jimmy Iovine, your boss at Interscope Records?Nicole: Oh no. That’s the biggest laugh too. He and Ron Fair are my mentors, and that relationship is nothing but professional.AHHA: What about T.I? Nicole: No. [laughs]AHHA: Are you sure? There was a lot of chemistry in the Whatever U Like video you did together!Nicole: There was chemistry in the video, no doubt, but his woman was right there watching us the whole time and they’re meant to be together. I ain’t about to steal nobody’s man. And plus I don’t even like him like that. AHHA: Glad we cleared that up. So are you single?Nicole: Yes I am.AHHA: Back to the album. You’ve sold over six million records worldwide with the group. Do you feel pressure with your solo album since your coming from something so successful? Nicole: The Pussycat Dolls had international success, and yes there is some pressure with that, but nobody puts as much pressure on me then I do to myself. As ready and excited as I am for this, I am scared because you put your heart into this music and you just want people to feel it and embrace it. It’s like your baby you know? Its like something you believed in, you dreamed of all your life and worked on over two years and your putting it out there and your like, “Please I hope they love it as much as I loved making it. ” AHHA: Blogs like Perez Hilton have been very critical about your new single Baby Love. Do things like that bother you? Do you even read blogs?Nicole: Everything I do, it comes from the heart, and it’s very true that artists are sensitive. Sometimes if I skim past a blog, it does hurt my feelings because I think, Here I am trying my best. I’ve worked hard all my life for this and I’m trying to do this in the most honest and truthful way I know. And you have the audacity to tear me down! But I try and stay away from that stuff. Youre always going to be negative and try to pull you down, but you’ve just got to rise above. I believe in myself and I’ve fought my way to the top. AHHA: Finally, what does the future hold for the Pussycat Dolls?Nicole: For me, I’m excited to do my stuff, because sometimes less is more. Right now I’m going to focus strictly on Her Name Is Nicole, but when the time is right, we have some PCD fans out there so we’ll maybe do another Pussycat Dolls album.