Lindsey Stirling Talks Touring, Talent and Truth

By Liz Tarnof

Cover photo by Eric Ryan Anderson

When we think of popular music today, we often think of synthesized beats, nonsensical lyrics and one hit wonders. However, a sparkling gem hailing from Arizona has broken out of this mold. Lindsey Stirling is a professional violinist as well as a motivational speaker. Tonight, I will be attending the kickoff of her world tour in sunny San Diego.

“You know what’s sexy? Confidence. Confidence is attractive, it’s appealing,” Lindsey Stirling told her adoring fans a few songs into her show at Humphreys Concerts By the Bay Tuesday night. Applause and cheers erupted from the crowd. It’s not often you hear an artist talk about confidence, much less during their first show on a tour.
The long anticipated album of Lindsey’s, “Shatter Me,” was just released April 29. Lindsey performed all her songs from the album, including the stunning and melodic “Take Flight,” along with the upbeat and enjoyable “Swag.” Much to the delight of the audience (and myself), she performed the covers she did for the wildly popular video games Assassin’s Creed, Zelda, and Skyrim. Lindsey stopped in-between songs to really connect and talk to the audience. Her performance and what she had to say was witty, amusing, motivating and captivating.

How does one account for such an upbeat personality, such triumphant optimism, and manage to connect with her fans at the same time? I drew up a little Lindsey questionnaire to reveal the woman behind the violin. Lindsey was more than happy to oblige, complete with her trademark enthusiasm, flair and humor.

Liz Tarnof: Lindsey, first off I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to allow me to answer my interview questions. I admire your talent and more so, among many others, look up to you. Thank you!

Lindsey Stirling: Thank you; I’m honored to be here!

LT: Here you are, experiencing a worldwide tour and the debut of your album Shatter Me. Did you ever think this is where you would be at the age of 27?

Photo credit Brett West

Photo credit Brett West

LS: I always dreamed of being a “star” when I was a little kid [laughs]; I don’t know that I ever looked far enough ahead or reasoned enough about the limited probability of something like that actually happening to think anything of it, either way. So yes and no…if you’d asked me as a teen if I was going to be a performing artist, I probably would have loved the idea, but I didn’t actually start believing in myself or the possibility of that dream becoming a reality until just before my mission when I put up “Pump It” by the Black-Eyed Peas and it went viral [For video go to]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=janXm1thRhM. I got a lot of attention from that video; one guy wanted to fly me to LA so that he could make me into an animated character, and I was even contacted by the Ellen DeGeneres Show. I almost didn’t go on my mission because of all the opportunities coming my way, but ultimately decided to go anyway. So I served in the New York, NY Mission for 18 months. When I got home my friends kept telling me I should try out for AGT and I thought, “Why not? Sounds fun!” At that point my focus was simply on winning the show…I didn’t think much farther than that. I tend to make short-term goals and work towards those first. If you ask me where I want to be ten years from now, I honestly don’t know…only time will tell. But I can tell you that I’d love to get a Grammy and a gold album this year.

LT: Who or what do you attribute to your talent and success?

LS: I think that desire is key; seeing where you want to end up. Because 90% of the time, when you’re young and learning to master an instrument, practice is B-O-R-I-N-G! Honestly and truly, I have my mother to thank. She made absolutely certain that I practiced every day even when I cried and threw tantrums and whined and told her I wanted to quit [laughs]. I think some people think parents who make their kids do something they “don’t want to do” are tyrannical or mean or whatever. But she knew I wanted to be a violinist, and what it would take to get there. And I’m so glad she forced me to practice and made the personal and financial sacrifices she did to get me lessons. Another huge contributor was the fact that my parents always encouraged my creative (sometimes crazy) ideas, helped me get the necessary tools (like editing software and a camcorder to make music videos), and allowed me total creative freedom to do the things I wanted to do.

LT: Do you think you will incorporate more singing into your future songs? Or are you planning to keep most of the focus on your violin.

LS: I always want to keep focus on the violin, but I definitely want to collaborate with singers too. I think it’s good to put out as much variety of music and videos as possible.
 
LT: What do you do on your down time? What do you like to do for fun?

LS: Before I started touring and making music for a living I enjoy[ed] making music videos, taking road trips, sewing, journaling/scrapbooking…I still enjoy all of those things, but now that most of them are part of my job, if I get time off I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere… I just want to go home and chill [laughs]. I feel insanely blessed…I mean, who gets to do what they typically do for fun every day and get paid to do it?  It’s a literal dream come true.

LT: Tell me about a typical day being on tour.

LS: Wake up on the bus, exercise on the bus, get dressed, eat cereal, read scriptures. Arrive at the venue, grab a bite to eat. Start sound check; fans arrive for [the] end of sound check (VIP). Then VIP meet and greet (about 100 people per show). I go backstage and get my costumes ready, eat some fruit, warm up, pray, perform. Cereal party with fans after the show (2 fans per show). Relax backstage while everything is getting loaded on the bus. Board the bus. Talk and/or play video games with the crew (if we aren’t too tired). Pray. Go to sleep. Repeat.
  
LT: Can you share with me the most memorable experience you have had so far regarding performing and traveling?

LS: I don’t know if I can say there was any one experience that was the MOST memorable…there have been so many. But one of the things I remember most fondly is when we let a little girl come meet us on the bus because the venue we were performing at didn’t allow minors. I LOVE my tiny fans! And this little miss was a gem-and-a-half. We chatted for a while, and as she left, she said, “We should have a sleepover sometime.” It was SO adorable! It may seem like a silly thing to remember most…I mean it wasn’t anything spectacular, but it totally made my day.

LT: From being on your tour, have you found any favorite areas, cities, or states that you fell in love with?

LS: I absolutely loved Australia because the food was AMAZING!! I don’t have an Australia tour booked for this year yet and I’m so bummed [laughs]; hoping for later in the year. Meeting the koalas at the zoo was a big highlight as well; they are ADORABLE! I want one!

LT: If you weren’t a performing violinist, what other job/career do you see yourself in?

LS: If I wasn’t doing music the next best thing would be motivational speaking. I have always wanted to be a role model for young teenage girls in particular, to teach them to love and respect themselves and encourage them to be the best they can be.

LT: Do you let your family and or friends join you on your tour?

LS: Well…Brooke is coming with me on this tour. She has a very special role to play (it’s a surprise!)  I took her with me to Europe last time and we had a blast! I wanted to take my other sister, Marina, to Russia with me last year but her Visa was declined; we were so bummed! Next time….

LT: Last but not least, what is your favorite food, color and animal?

LS: Color: orange (closely followed by teal)
Food: mom’s homemade beans, ice cream, and healthy cereals (Kashi Go Lean Crunch, Grape Nuts, Cheerios….)
Animal: Cute miniature dogs

For more information on Lindsey Stirling and her upcoming tour dates, visit www.lindseystirling.com

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