Collaborating with the likes of Sabrina Carpenter, Becky G, Trombone Shorty, and Alex Gaskarth, Lindsey Stirling has just released her Christmas album, featuring ten Christmas classics as well as three original songs, “Warmer In The Winter” album out now on itunes. Appearing on U.S hit show “Dancing with the Stars” making the finals and having over 10 million YouTube subscribers, over 2 billion views on her YouTube channel, not to mention being ranked #4 on Forbes Magazine’s inaugural “YouTube Millionaires” list, Lindsey Stirling is a force to be reckoned with, building the ‘Stirling’ name into a sizeable brand adored by many. And after her ascent into her global domination this year whilst arguably becoming the face of this generations classical music (with a modern twist), we were finally able to grab the dedicated attentions of this ingenious violinist and found out what begun her lusts for the violin, her work, and the incredible shift in the industry opening opportunities for musicians such as herself, in our interview with Lindsey Stirling below.
… “It’s a beautiful thing to create and recreate”
There’s been a significant movement over the past 5 years or so of Violinist turning a very classical instrument into something very contemporary, instead of being depicted as part of an orchestra – individual violinist recreating commercial songs, reinventing the entire sound? Was this part of what inspired you to be a solo act?
L.S: I definitely took inspiration from groups like Celtic Women, Barrage, soloists like Vanessa Mae and David Garrett, and even dancers and other performers like Michael Jackson, Riverdance, and Olympic figure skaters. I think it was a combination of these influences that convinced me that dance, instrumental music, and video could be integrated into one performance, by one person. It was…economical. And seemed like a cool idea. So why not? And why not me?
Do you think there are still quite a lot of traditional stigmas attached with what is expected of a violinist even now. Particularly in the type of market and state of the music industry at the moment?
L.S: Yes. As amazing as classically-trained musicians often are, classical music is sustained primarily with music that has been played (and heard) for sometimes hundreds of years. I think, that as a violin student, it is pivotal to have a classical base and to master the techniques necessary to perform classical music. However, it is human nature (especially in current society) to seek music that is different than what one has heard many times before. Or at least a profoundly different take on it. I think that as classically-trained students reach a certain point in their progress, teachers can start encouraging their students to CREATE and expand repertoire outside of the standard works. It’s a beautiful thing to create and recreate (in the case of cover songs) and make it your own. In my opinion, creation is the most fulfilling thing we can do, and is the foundation of true happiness. It is possible for people to feel our joy in the work we create. And when that joy is felt, listeners want more of it. It sells because it inspires.
Is there ever the urge to incorporate singing into your music or write lyrics? Especially when you hear ballads and the violin solo enters? With music having so much to offer as an art form is there ever the urge to explore further?
L.S: I can honestly say that I am rarely 100% satisfied with any of my songs. Rather, I tend to want to tweak and change them over and over again. That’s why deadlines are so good for me haha; because if I refused to release a song until it was perfect, I never would. As far as incorporating lyrics, I do have quite a few singles with lyrics. But if a song doesn’t have lyrics, it REALLY doesn’t have any lyrics. In other words, I don’t find myself making up lyrics to go with my instrumental pieces. I do see visuals of the songs in my head, which I recreate in many of my music videos. Most of my songs have a theme or feeling I’m trying to invoke in my listeners. Some of the most powerful music I have ever listened to has the ability to penetrate deepest, and speaks loudest without words. It is my goal to create music with that kind of power; that can influence and change lives for the better.
The violin is a very specific instrument to play and there is still that prejudice that it’s a certain type of individual that plays the violin but did you always play the violin? How were you encouraged to play? Did you ever think, especially in the beginning, screw it I’m going to play the cello?
L.S: I actually always wanted to play the violin; there was no contest! And yes, I think that certain personality types are drawn to it. Definitely people who like to be the center of attention, who are confident or who desire to be confident, violinists are often extroverted…. My sister Brooke played cello. Sorry Brooke…I never wanted to play your instrument but I didn’t necessarily mind hearing you practice either!
“…We live in an age where experimentation is the norm”
How long did you work with Sabrina Carpenter for? When did you both decide to work with one another?
L.S: We met backstage at the Radio Disney Awards and got to talking! Sadly we actually didn’t ever get to go into the studio together. She was so great to say yes to this and record it from the road while she was on tour. I’m such a fan of what she does and what she brought to the song!
You’ve worked with quite a diverse array of artists and musicians but can we expect you to do a 90 degree shift and create some new-metal vs medieval east European violin piece – not that you should but it may be an interesting one? Or maybe you already have?
L.S: Absolutely! I’m always open for a musical challenge!
By default with certain instruments you have to be meticulous or you lose the entire ensemble but have you ever had that monumental cock-up in a live performance?
L.S: I’ve definitely had hiccups in performances before, but most of the time we’re able to adjust or pretend like the mistake was meant to be played that way haha. I’ll never forget the performance when my earpiece stopped working, so I couldn’t hear my band. My violin wasn’t connecting to the speakers properly so I was literally playing a “silent violin” there for awhile. Then Gavi’s keyboard fell over…. It was an epic fail moment…so embarrassing! But I laugh about it now.
What do think are the most exciting changes in contemporary music that are having a positive effect on musicians such as yourself?
L.S: I am not sure if it’s so much change in the music itself as it is the attitudes of today’s musicians. Due to platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud, ANYONE and everyone can promote themselves/post whatever they want and the general public is left to decide what they like and don’t like (opposed to record labels that can pick and choose what artists they want to promote). In general I think people have become more open-minded to the types of music and genres they are willing to listen to and explore. Aspiring musicians are also more willing to “put themselves out there” through social media because…why not? They can. It’s that simple. So I think that, while our society is saturated with content…which can be a bit overwhelming…we live in an age where experimentation is the norm and posting creative content is encouraged and acceptable. As a musician, when I’m feeling dull or uninspired, searching and listening to others’ music online often gives me ideas and the inspiration I need to start composing again.
With so many things that are evolving in the world today do you think we will start to see major pop stars in many ways advocating string instruments. We’ve already seen it with bands such as Clean Bandit but do you think this will continue?
L.S: I hope so! I love seeing live performers on stage and I love to see traditional instruments in pop culture. Most of my Christmas album utilizes a live jazz band and orchestra. I love electronic music, but it’s hard to replicate the passion that can be heard in a live performance with live musicians. This “Warmer in the Winter” tour, I’m bringing a few band and orchestra musicians of my own! I hope you’ll join me; I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone this Christmas!