Photo Credit: Natasha Belikove
Written by Kelly Holm
She’s been an America’s Got Talent quarter-finalist, a Mormon missionary and a best-selling author. She landed the eighth-highest number of views of any YouTube video from 2012, and has an asteroid named in her honor. She’s collaborated with Evanescence’s Amy Lee, Pentatonix and even the Muppets.
She’s Arizona-born violinist, songwriter and dancer Lindsey Stirling, and her star is still shimmering bright.
After the stagnant stages of 2020, Stirling jumped right back into touring for 2021, undertaking the US leg of her Artemis tour this summer.
“I really missed [touring]… that’s the whole reason I actually became an artist, because I wanted to put on a show,” Stirling said. “Touring can be this great, amazing other-world distraction that almost masks everything because you’re living this other life where everybody knows exactly what they do every day… it’s just very regimented. Where at home, suddenly you have to deal with ‘I don’t have that structure anymore.’”
After Thanksgiving, the Lindsey Stirling Christmas Program will hit 22 cities across the American Midwest and Eastern Seaboard before Artemis takes Australia and Europe in 2022.
“It didn’t feel quite like Christmas last year. It [has] come to feel very much like my holiday tradition is… I get to go out and I get to share Christmas with people,” Stirling says of her excitement for her next tour, which begins Nov. 26 in Memphis. “And so last year, I really missed that.”
She teased that stunts will play a significant role in the Lindsey Stirling Christmas Program’s choreography. Last year, Stirling famously hung by her hair in a Cirque du Soleil-inspired trick for her Home for the Holidays streamed special.
“We’re actually doing some training and aerial work, which is very different from anything I’ve ever done. I’m trying to develop upper body strength that I have just never had,” Stirling hinted. “And so, while it can be very frustrating at times I remind myself [that] it’s more exciting than it is frustrating and, you know, that gets me pumped.”
Stirling doesn’t anticipate that hair-hanging will play a role in this year’s Christmas shows, but promises that her upcoming stunts will be a major component of the tour’s atmosphere.
“[Hair-hanging] was awful if I could describe it in one word, but it was also very magical… it was so, so strenuous and physically the most excruciating thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “Hair-hanging was beautiful and amazing. But, it wasn’t practical for me, it wasn’t something I wanted to continue doing. So yeah, it made me think, well, what other aerial arts could I do? So we’re working with a coach and some of my dancers. We’re learning some cool aerial stuff that will really, really add to the live show.”
For Stirling, planning shows for a tour is almost as much fun as playing them, and choreography is only one piece of that puzzle— costumes and lighting factor heavily in as well.
“I love that stage where you start to see everything come together because it starts out as a bunch of fragmented ideas… but then suddenly they start to mold together and it becomes a seamless show,” she said. “All these tiny little details become things that the audience won’t even probably really notice, but they’re going to feel it [and] it just becomes this whole art piece of making people have one big experience, but made up of so many different ideas.”
Stirling’s passion for creative direction has manifested itself in a variety of ways, and she’s always been one to take the bull by the horns. Though she ultimately ended up getting her bachelor’s degree in recreational management, initially at college she studied to be a filmmaker and a therapist. While working in a treatment center, she was forced to confront her own struggle with anorexia, which she later became outspoken about through her song “Shatter Me.”
“It’s a constant journey to get to know myself a little better all the time, and to let myself know that I can be safe with myself,” she says. “We always need to balance.”
As for her latest creative endeavor? Stirling has teamed up with music giant Yamaha to design her own violin, a project which has been in the works for more than two years, but was finally announced to the public in October.
“I’ve been a Yamaha artist for, like, ever since I became an artist, and I’ve used their violins on countless tours, and they’ve been such a great partner,” Stirling says.
Named “Crystallize” after one of Stirling’s most popular singles, the instrument boasts a jeweled fine tuner and is planned to ship early in December.
“I wanted to be sure it was great, so I took it out on tour and I actually played one of the violins, my whole last Artemis tour,” she said. “I took it all across the States and played in front of thousands of people to make sure that it was a violin that I trusted giving to people and selling, so I can honestly say, as a professional violinist, that it’s a great instrument. I couldn’t believe it sold out in a day in our first run.”
A signature drawing of a girl and a violin can also be found stamped on the instrument, the product of one of Stirling’s beloved doodling sessions.
“I was trying to think of a logo that looks kind of like it had an L in it and an S in it,” Stirling said. “There’s an element of both, wound into that little violin and character.”
She’s also featured on a track on Pentatonix’s new Christmas album, and is planning on putting out a rock album in the near future as well, hopefully with dream collaborators like Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne.
“I plan on doing a lot of collaborations for my rock album. [I] don’t know [yet] what they’re going to be. I’ve got my wishlist,” she says. “I just got out of tour rehearsal, and so I’m pumped right now. I’m excited!”
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