When you think of a “Jack of all Trades” you would usually follow that up with “and a Master of None”. Not when it comes to the multi-talented Lindsey Stirling.
With a list of credentials a mile long including violinist, dancer, performance artist, composer; and a stylistic reach that encompasses everything from classical to EDM, Miss Stirling isn’t just the whole package, she’s about five packages in one box wrapped with a (totally adorable) bow on top. Lindsey was able to take some time out of her busy tour schedule to sit down and answer a few questions for AltWire and we are all very excited to share them with you here exclusively.
Take a look at our interview below and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section below!
AltWire [Amanda Bourne]: How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist from the release of your self-titled album to the release of Shatter Me?
Lindsey Stirling: I’ve learned SO much; mostly about the business side of things. With the release of my “Shatter Me” album, I finally had the budget to create videos with the help of graphic artists and production teams, which opened up an entire new gamut of possibilities. I’ve had tremendously more support and help since my first album; the manpower and management who have been able to get both of my albums distributed worldwide. I’ve also been able to book tours all over the world; not only in the US and Europe like I did with my first album.
AW: What were a few of your favorite classical violin pieces to learn when you first started playing? What are a few pieces you enjoyed learning and tweaking to make covers as an adult?
Lindsey Stirling: I started out with the Suzuki Method; some of my favorite classical pieces are “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.”
AW: You’ve done a lot of pretty awesome collaborations! The Piano Guys, Sam Tsui, Peter Hollens, Tyler Ward and Kurt Hugo Schneider just to name a few. How do you decide who to work with on what songs?
Lindsey Stirling: I discovered Peter early on in my career. I was browsing music on YouTube and when I found his channel, I was like, “Holy cow this video had to take so much time to create! And he’s insanely talented! He deserves more subscribers….” So I contacted him and “Skyrim” was the result. He met me in Utah and we filmed there. SO much fun! As I got more YouTube subscribers, I started reaching out to other YouTubers I admired who maybe had just a little more or just under the subscribers than I did, and the collaboration would help us both (I’d gain subscribers from them and vice versa).
AW: Speaking of collaborations, do you have a dream collaboration? If you could work with anyone, alive or dead, on any piece of music who and what would you choose?
Lindsey Stirling: Dead: Michael Jackson! Alive: Ellie Goulding!
AW: A lot of your songs, despite some not having words, have a lot of personal meaning to you. How do you find ways to convey your thoughts and emotions through notes on ledger lines instead of words on notebook paper?
Lindsey Stirling: I don’t actually write my music down typically…I usually just compose on the spot/memorize/experiment until I come up with something I love. And it usually evolves over the course of a few hours or a few days or a few weeks until it’s exactly how I like it. I usually start with a picture or storyline in my mind, and try to evoke that emotion through the music I’m creating.
AW: You are pretty involved in your faith. You even have your own page on Mormon.org! Although your faith greatly inspires your personal life, do you feel your faith has influenced your music as well?
Lindsey Stirling: I feel like I’ve been protected by my faith. In other words, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of mediums in my life, most of which have been very uplifting. I have chosen not to indulge in appetites that are dark, demeaning, grotesque, addicting, or overly hateful or violent. I think that all of the influences in my life that I have chosen as a result of my faith and lifestyle have an influence on the music I create because my music is an outward expression of my inner emotions, my light, desires, hopes, dreams, beliefs, and everything that makes me who I am.
AW: What is the full conceptual process behind your music: from song writing to recording, to videos and performance? Is it true you create your own outfits and stage designs? Do you have all the details visualized from the beginning of writing a song or do you work through it as you go?
Lindsey Stirling: When I first started out I did everything pretty much myself, but as I’ve gotten busier I have had to let some of that go, which has actually been really hard for me. I still pretty much come up with the ideas and sketches on my own (costumes, tour ideas, video storylines, etc.) and then hand the ideas over to professionals who I trust to do it right, and then I manage the process so that I still maintain creative “control.” It has always been important to me not to loose that; to continue being the creator behind my music and art. As far as music, I normally meet with a producer and together we create something epic; then I attempt to put violin over it. If I can come up with something I love, it’s a winner! If I struggle for too long and fail to come up with a melodic line I’m completely happy with, I shelve the tune and start from scratch again.
AW: How do you feel recording and making music videos differs from live performance in terms of your own personal creations. Do you feel your work translates well to the stage?
Lindsey Stirling: It’s completely different, and I love being able to do both. The great thing about a video is that there are no limitations; anything I can conceive in my mind can be created for the screen. It’s literally like a “dream come true.” What I love about live performing is the interaction between me and my audience; there’s nothing in this world that can equal that kind of energy and I absolutely love it.
AW: You still have a few tour dates coming up! Many of which are outside of the US. Is performing live in other countries different from performing inside the US?
Lindsey Stirling: Absolutely; every country has it’s own culture and “excitement” level [laughs]; Asia is more “polite” and countries like Germany and France take-the-cake for enthusiasm. The biggest difference between performing in the USA/Europe versus Asia/Australia/South America is that in the USA/Europe we’re usually on a tour bus and in Asia/Australia/South America we have had to do hotels. The bus is much more cozy and I like the “team” feeling on the bus, so I really miss that when we’re all stuck in our little hotel rooms.
AW: You’re very involved with your fan base. What have been a few of your favorite fan interactions?
Lindsey Stirling: I’ve done some fun contests and the response has been amazing! I love seeing what fans do and create, especially for the last violin giveaway contest. I encouraged fans to do an act of service and do a video documentation about it. Saw some AMAZING submissions! One of the winners got a group together and built a house for a family, and another took a bus full of people to a poor town in Brasil and gave free haircuts, food, games, etc. I also love seeing fan art and featuring my favorites on my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages. I also did a promotion where fans could meet me backstage after the concert to eat a bowl of cereal haha; met some of the nicest people. I seriously have the best fans!
AW: YouTube and social media have played a big part in your success by getting you exposure to listeners who would otherwise have no way of hearing about you. What do you think has been your biggest tool for success?
Lindsey Stirling: Social media sharing, definitely. I mean I had “Transcendence,” “Spontaneous Me,” and “Song of the Caged Bird” up on iTunes for a good while after AGT and the sales were mediocre at best. It was only after Devin Graham (devinsupertramp) contacted me and helped me make my first music video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp63nbOfxgs) that my songs started selling and my career started taking off.
AW: Your strength is inspiring. After being told by judges of America’s Got Talent that you were unmarketable and that you “belonged in a group” you continued to do what you loved and became a success. What advice do you have for anyone out there who has been put down for doing what they love? How did you overcome the negative comments?
Lindsey Stirling: First off, if you feel inspired to do something, there’s a reason, and it’s not always the reason you think. Most failures aren’t really failures; they’re learning experiences/blessings in disguise. Had I actually won AGT my life would be very different from what it is right now; haha I’m so glad I lost! Bottom line: if you love something and you want to pursue it, who has the right to tell you different? I’ve done many things in my life despite discouraging situations and resistance from those who did want me to fail. The harder the resistance and the harder you’re required to push back, the stronger you get. With God on your side, you really can’t fail. If you move forward and never give up on yourself, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.
AW: You’re quite the philanthropist. You’ve done missionary work in NYC, worked with the Atlanta Music Project, and were a part of One Night for One Drop with Cirque de Soleil last March for World Water Day. Any big service projects in the works for you now?
Lindsey Stirling: I’ve been wanting to start a charity to help fund music programs across the country, so that’s still in the works.
AW: March 8th was National Women’s Day and many female YouTubers, yourself included, came together to share personal experiences about their younger selves to help empower young women. Can you tell us a little more about the #DearMe campaign?
I think the point I most wanted to get across is that men and women are indeed different [smiles], and that rather than comparing and trying to one-up each other all the time, we should be celebrating each other’s differences and be proud of who we are.
AW: You’ve spoken in the past about going through a pretty tough battle with an eating disorder as a young adult. A lot of the people who view you as a role model are struggling with the same or similar issues. Any advice or encouragement for them?
Lindsey Stirling: It’s not an easy thing to have to combat; I would know. But I also know that it is possible to overcome, because I’ve done it. Once I was willing to see that I had a problem, remove myself and my value from the sickness and realize that it did not define me, and started accepting the help that God was trying to send to me, I was able to start healing. My best advice is to not label yourself (“I am anorexic/bulimic/alcoholic”) with whatever negative thing you may be dealing with. Rather see the negative as something you are dealing with (“I am fighting anorexia”) and replace the negative with a positive (“I am strong/capable/amazing”). When you fail in your efforts…and you will…don’t ever let that stop you from trying again, and again, and again…and again. Keep trying for as long as it takes. Never give up.
AW: How do you feel being a woman in the music industry has influenced your path? Do you feel as though you’ve had to overcome any additional criticism or hardships because of a gender divide?
Lindsey Stirling: Not really. I don’t feel ostracized or as if my gender has hindered me in any way. I think that anyone who is truly at peace with themselves and happy in their own skin generally attracts positive attention; regardless of race, sex, or whatever.
AW: You’ve already achieved so much! You’ve been listed in Forbes: 30 under 30, had two hit albums, over 6 million YouTube subscribers, went platinum in Germany, had countless sold-out tours. What’s next for you? Anything you’re the most excited for?
Lindsey Stirling: Right now I’m living in the moment; absolutely loving touring and working to put together a new show for the US and Europe coming up soon. I’m also super stoked about my memoir/book coming out this January. My sister and I finally found a publisher and yes I know I’m biased because it’s my own book haha, but you’re going to love it. Brooke is an amazing writer. It will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between.