Interview: Lindsey Stirling On Magic, Mental Health, and Christmas in 2020
Lindsey Stirling is a rare bird: A virtuosic violinist who managed to use her talents to crack the pop sphere.
The definition of multi-talented, Stirling's extraordinary aptitude for her instrument as well as her collaborations with countless iconic bands and her aptitude for pop culture have created an obsessive cult following for the artist.
Her star shines particularly bright during the holiday season. Three years ago, she released Warmer In The Winter, an album of holiday songs that was the #1 Christmas album of 2017. Every year since then, she's toured the world during this time of year, offering a plethora of magical holiday experiences for her millions of fans.
This year, of course, things look a little different. Stuck at home, Stirling decided not to opt for the typical 2020 livestream performance, and instead has created a special holiday event designed for the screen.
"Lindsey Stirling: Home for the Holidays" airs Saturday, December 12th at 3PM and 8PM EST. (Click here to buy tickets). The show will feature dazzling dancers, plenty of holiday cheer, and the elaborate effects we've all come to expect from Stirling's videos, and is sure to be a burst of warmth in a cold season and at an incredibly bittersweet time.
Stirling plans on returning to the road in 2021, but for now, we spoke about the holiday special, about mental health (or the lack thereof) in 2021, and the magic of creating art and music at a time when all else seems lost.
POPDUST: Warmer In The Winter is such a gorgeous album. What's your favorite track on it, and why?
I have to say I love my version of "I Wonder As I Wander." I've only ever heard it done in a simple minimal style. Mine is grand and epic leaning into some hard EDM elements. Oooh, I love performing this one live. It's a testimony of spirituality with an edge. So, it's very unlike what most people think of when they think "spiritual music."
There's this incredible, grand intensity to many of the songs on Warmer In The Winter; it definitely feels like a maximalist work. What kind of atmosphere or energy did you want to create while you were making the arrangements?
Honestly, I wanted to hit several different feels on the album. I love crooner/big band Christmas so I wanted to pay homage to that for the classics, then I had to do some that felt sweet for some of the more religious tunes, and then I leaned into my Lindsey Stirling-style to flip some iconic tunes on their heads.
Lindsey Stirling - Angels We Have Heard On High (Official Video)www.youtube.com
You're a dancer, singer, comic book artist, and much more as well as a violinist—are these all connected for you in any way? How do your disciplines inform each other?
I feel like it keeps me feeling creative. Maybe this makes me a jack of all trades but I like to continuously learn and challenge myself. It keeps me from getting burned out in one area. All my different ways of expression are connected to the fact that they bring the music to life in new forms.
You have a livestream performance this weekend called Lindsey Stirling: Home for the Holidays, and it sounds like a really wonderfully elaborate production. How and why did you decide to produce the show in this unique format?
All of us artists are trying to figure out how to do what we do. We all miss performing but I personally don't enjoy watching livestreams. It makes me wish I was at the show and in the room. So... I wanted to lean into the strengths of the medium we have which is the ability to film it. We could set up huge props and sets and do costume changes for each number.
Have you always loved the holidays? What's your favorite part about them? Any favorite memories?
I have always loved the holidays. I love that it's a time where you get to refocus on all the most important things in life. Being with family, spiritual connection, service and, of course, eating cookies. From the time I was a child, my parents taught us the importance of service. We didn't have a lot, but we would still adopt a family every year. It taught me that no matter what we do or don't have, we can always lift others.
Lindsey Stirling - Carol of the Bells (Official Video)www.youtube.com
How has quarantine and the general chaos of 2020 been for you? How are you doing?
Whew... ups and downs mate, ups and downs. I've never been so emotionally unstable. Haha. Some days are filled with depression and anxiety and then other days I'm so full of gratitude. It sure has forced me to face my mental health head-on because I couldn't just jump on a tour bus and run from it. Or jump on a stage and hide behind "Lindsey Stirling the performer."
This show is coming at a time when so many people are struggling so much. Is there anything that's helped you get through this year? Do you have any words of advice or solace for everyone? What do you hope your music brings to your fans in the midst of it all?
Two things: I spent the first 3 and a half months of quarantine in Missouri on a farm with my sister and her family and my mom. Spending months of uninterrupted time with my nieces and family was a time that I will cherish forever. As much as I lost with the pandemic, it made me realize I had so much to make me full of joy. It was a reset.
I'm also so grateful that I've had my holiday show to work on. It saved me. Haha. I needed something to pour my heart and creativity into and this show brought me and my team so much creative fulfillment. We got to be performers again. For the week we were working filming, we were all so excited. It felt like tour life and from our corner of the planet, the world felt almost normal. I hope it brings others as much joy as we felt making it.
You're planning on embarking on the Artemis World Tour in 2021—if all goes well and we can go to shows again next year, I think it's going to be a truly unbelievable year for live entertainment. What are you most excited about when it comes to touring again? Do you hope anything will be different after this is all over? What are you most looking forward to about the future in general?
Oh, you better believe that I am aching to tour again. Ah! I cannot wait to step on a stage and share that feeling with my audience. There is no feeling in the world like that. I just hope that we remember to be grateful and keep that gratitude with us. We will all be overjoyed for the first week but then it will feel normal. I hope I don't take things for granted again.
How do you feel when you play the violin? It seems so natural and fluid, and it's easy to hear your focus and passion. What runs through your mind when you're playing?
Haha, I'm glad it appears that way. That is the goal. But when I'm performing my mind is usually racing: "Be in tune. Be in tune. Crap, that was out of tune. Balance... spin kick. Oh shoot, I'm not smiling. SMILE. Is that little girl in the audience asleep?"
But then I get sections of the show where I go into a flow state. It's where the performing and the details all just happen and it's like I am getting to FEEL my way through the experience, not think my way through it. That is when the performance becomes magic. When I look back at those moments, I can't remember the details, I just remember how I felt and it feels peaceful and powerful.