Interview: Lindsey Stirling


By combining it with dubstep and dancing, Lindsey Stirling has shown that violin playing doesn’t have to be stuffy and stodgy. And there’s a lot of people that like what she’s doing, with her YouTube videos regularly receiving tens or even hundreds of millions of views – for example, check out her video for “Crystallize”. She has also released two acclaimed albums, and will be starting on her third one very soon.

This interview with Stirling was for a preview article for Stirling’s 8/15/15 concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. It was done by phone on 7/24/15. (Photo from

Jeff Moehlis: Hi Lindsey. How are you?

Lindsey Stirling: I’m great! I’m at a big YouTube conference. It’s like a big convention for YouTubers. It’s quite crazy.

JM: Well I know you’re a big YouTuber, so that’s appropriate. I caught part of your show a few years ago at SOhO in Santa Barbara, and really enjoyed it. Did you enjoy your previous visit to our town?

LS: Oh yes, definitely. I absolutely love touring. I love seeing different places, and meeting my fans. So yeah, absolutely. And it’s really fun to be able to come back. Every time I like to come with a completely new show. It always has to be something that I feel is much better than what I brought the last time. I think if you come to the show, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what’s there.

JM: Can you give us a little preview of what we can look forward to?

LS: This tour, I still have my band. I have four female dancers… I’m so proud to call them my dancers. They are absolutely incredible. The choreography is intertwined through some numbers with projection, kind of creating a 3D effect that is really new. I’m pretty sure that my fans will enjoy seeing that kind of effect in my show. It makes it really fun every night.

I know the parts that are magical elements for the crowd. I’ll see the kids point at the stuff that’s happening on the screen, you know, pulling their dad’s sleeve. Teenagers are taking pictures. It’s really fun, and it makes the show new for me every night. I look forward to the moments when people are going to have that “Ahh!” reaction. It’s fun. It’s my favorite show that I’ve ever done.

JM: You mentioned that you’re at a YouTube conference. Does it blow your mind that some of your videos have been viewed over 100 million times?

LS: Yeah, it does really blow my mind. It’s crazy! You know, I’ve toured a ton, I’ve done hundreds of meet and greets… Then you have these moments when you’re like, “Wow! This is awesome!” I get reminded that this is my dream. Like here at VidCon, I’m walking around and random people run up so excited, they can’t believe that they’re meeting me. I had this moment yesterday when I thought, “Oh my gosh, I just can’t believe that people care who I am. When did this happen? How did it happen?” It just blows my mind. But it’s awesome, and it’s a testament to the power of how the world is changing, and what social media and a YouTube channel can do.

JM: It turns out that I used to play violin a long time ago. I find it very hard to imagine dancing and playing at the same time. What inspired you to combine those?

LS: You know, I wanted to be an entertainer, and not just a performer. I was actually doing some talent competitions in Arizona. I was trying to earn some money for college, and there were these pageants called the Junior Miss Pageants. It was for teenage girls, and it was a scholarship program. There was a talent portion, and some girls were dancing to jazz routines, and there were other violinists. I thought, “Gosh, I want to stand out from these other violinists, but I also want to be fun. I want to have fun, and I want the audience to cheer.” So I came up with this idea of movement and violin. It was amazing in my first performance of it. I’d never felt such an electric feeling before. I thought, I have to figure out how to do this for my life.

JM: Typically the violin is associated with classical music, and you bring a more modern approach to it. Have you ever considered incorporating more of a classical influence to your music?

LS: Well, I’m classically trained. I’ve played the violin since I was 6 years old, and up through high school that’s all I did. I love classical music, and I still take lessons occasionally and try to work on those classical skills because they’re so important.

But as far as my writing, I fell in love with pairing the violin with unexpected things. And I think that’s kind of what keeps it fun and new for me. I love trying different things, whether it’s rock ‘n’ roll, or adapting to this person’s style, or playing with dubstep. I think that’s what really sets me apart as a violinist, the ability to write music that’s unique. It’s the music that I honestly love. So I probably will be mostly sticking to that, and exploring new ventures. But there’s a lot of classical undertones in the pieces that have dubstep behind them as well.

JM: Do you ever wonder if any of the great composers from the past were around today, what would they be up to?

LS: There’s so many great writers today. It’s completely changed. There’s so many amazing writers today that stand out from the crowd. They write songs for themselves, and for everybody. And I think that those are in the way the Mozarts of today, the people that can just write hit after hit after hit that people love. This is the new form, the new form of pop songs, with catchy lyrics and that kind of thing.

JM: Have you ever gotten into the music from the 70’s that incorporated the violin into rock and fusion music, like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Kansas, stuff like that?

LS: I haven’t explored that too much. I mean, I’ve heard the genre and the music of Kansas and whatnot, but I’ve never written anything in that realm. But definitely in my music exploration I’ve come across it.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

LS: Try different things. It took me a while to discover my voice – that’s funny, my voice in a violin, but it really did. I tried so many different styles of music, everything from a punk rock band in high school, touring with a country band, playing classical music at weddings. I played with an indie rock band in college. I just tried so many different things. It helped me to use my own style and my own voice in the violin rather than letting the norms of what the violin was define me. So in the beginning, just take everything, try everything. If you get an opportunity to do a country band thing, do it. Just go out there and chase every rainbow, until you find what you are.

JM: You have two albums out now. How did your approach to the albums differ? For the second album you were already quite successful. Did that influence how you approached it?

LS: Mentally it did. I was so scared doing my second album because when I wrote the first one, no one cared. I was just experimenting. I had a couple of fans. I was kind of writing it song by song, as I went.

But with the second album, it felt like there was this daunting expectation, and also everybody talks about the sophomore slump, that your second album is the worst album. So it was really hard to pick myself up and go, “No, it’s not going to be my slump. It’s going to be even better than my last album.”

So my approach to it, I kept having to remind myself that this isn’t about everybody else. Yes, it’s for my fans, but it’s also for myself. You know, I continually had to remind myself that, everything from speaking to a life coach to get encouragement… I continuously did things to keep my mental state as healthy as I could, trying to fight self-doubt in a very active way rather than just kind of ignoring it. Whatever it took, I was willing to do to try to keep myself in a positive place, and that way I was able to write rather than fear.

JM: What are your plans for the near future? Is another album in the works?

LS: I’m about to start. We finish this tour in late August, and then I’m going to start writing a new album. You know, again, I’m terrified, and I’m excited – the whole thing. I’m going to start it in the fall, and I’m not even sure what direction I’m going to take. There’s so many different ideas I have and whatnot, and I’m excited to figure it out.

JM: I read that you’re working on an autobiography. When is that coming out?

LS: That comes out January 12th. I’ve been working on it for about two and a half years with my sister. Yeah, it’s a memoir. It tells my story and experiences, both the highs and the lows that have shaped me as who I am.

JM: Did you find that there were any surprises as you were reflecting on your journey?

LS: You know, one of the biggest surprises was… Every story in the book I wanted to lean towards a theme, to have a purpose. Some of them were just plain funny, but at the end of each chapter I wanted to wrap it up, not being too sentimental or too cheesy, but kind of what the chapter meant as a part of my life. It was amazing that I’ve learned the same exact lessons over and over and over again in my life. It’s just crazy. I think that’s how life works. You learn a lesson a little bit deeper every time. But I’m like, “Dang, I’m learning the same lessons now that I was facing when I was 16.” When you look at your life in a front to back way, you do realize there are themes.


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