WALLINGFORD — On July 11 Lindsey Stirling, an electronic violinist, dancer, and performer, will start her national tour at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre.
Stirling’s career skyrocketed through her YouTube channel, where she incorporates instrumental music pieces with dancing and theatrics. The video for her song “Crystallize,” an original violin song of Stirling’s, has more than 155 million views on YouTube.
“That’s crazy to me,” she said. “That is absolutely insane to me.”
The tour is centered around the release of her third studio album, “Brave Enough” — set to come out on Aug. 19.
The Record-Journal invited Stirling to its Podcast show, “On The Record: Music” Friday afternoon to talk about her upcoming album, the tour, and her recently-released single, “The Arena” — which had more than 2 million views on YouTube by Friday afternoon.
Web producer Farrah Duffany and Jim Pasinski, author of JP’s Music Blog, led the interview with Stirling.
We know that your concert kicks off July 11 at the Oakdale and your third studio album is coming up and you just released a new single, but before we get to all that, if you want to tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are now.
I’m Lindsey and I’m a violinist. I’ve always loved being really creative and finding unique ways to express myself. I was a classical violinist from the time I was 6-years-old. When I was in my later teens I kind of got burn out and I wanted to find a way to make the violin feel more organic to myself and more expressive for myself.
So I started writing music and I started adding dance to it and I started throwing in the fun costumes and now I got my music and my work out through YouTube. I still kind of can’t believe it sometimes when I realize, “oh my gosh, I make my living doing something that kind of started as an opportunity to reinvigorate my passion.” I just wanted to get more excited about my own art again. Now I travel the world and I get to share what I love with so many people.
I sometimes just have to like pinch myself and say “oh my god I can’t believe this is what I actually do,” and I love it.
You have a new album arriving, I believe Aug. 19, called “Brave Enough.” Will we be hearing a lot of that music in your new live show this summer?
We will be doing a couple songs... we’re going to do four songs from the new album, which I’m so excited about. This new album is such a different animal for me. It’s something that is going to surprise a lot of people, but at the same time it has a lot of the Lindsey that my current fans already know and the sound that will get them excited.
I think it’s a perfect mix of new versus old. I think that’s what I’m really excited about. In the summer we’re going to be doing two tracks with featured vocalist on them in the summer tour but also two instrumental tracks.
Nice, I noticed the new single — “The Arena”— is strictly instrumental, has a very symphonic rock feel and I noticed the video seems to be inspired by “Mad Max”, is that correct?
Oh, yes it is. We were going for like a “Mad Max” meets “Burning Man” vibe.
Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind that first single? Where did you find inspiration for that and the video, obviously you said “Mad Max”, but can you elaborate a little bit?
Stylistically, that spurred from… wanting it to be this post-apocalyptic feeling arena. The inspiration for the concept of the video and the concept for the song is when I went in the studio to write this song, I brought in with me the quote that’s in the very beginning of the video, but it’s a shortened version of this amazing quote by Theodore Roosevelt about not caring what the critics think. It’s not the critics who counts. It’s not the one who laughs when the strong man stumbles and falls, the credit goes to the one who is actually in the arena.
It’s this amazing quote, I wish I had the whole thing memorized… but it just really inspired me so I wanted to create a video that shows people being in their arena. Whatever they’re doing. Me and Derek Hough were supposed to dance in representing relationships and feeling judged in relationships. There were the fighters representing masculinity, and then there was the mother and daughter, they were representing that relationship between mother and daughter. They’re all different scenarios but they’re all in the arena and they’re all feeling judged by the people that are watching
Then it takes it one step further, ... suddenly the audience is empty except for themselves, they are the ones watching and they’re judging themselves so that is supposed to represent self judgment and how we’re our own worst critic.
In the end they all rise to the occasion and they finish their routines… and they’re all alone in the arena now and that’s where we all hope to get. We hope to get to a space where we don’t care what others think and we don’t judge ourselves.
That’s our goal, and it’s so hard to do and so this is about the journey of how to get to there.
I love how your music, especially the instrumental songs... But when you write them, do you think about adding vocals? Or is it just I’m going to make a strictly instrumental song?
I approach them very different usually if there is going to be a vocalist on it or if it’s going to be an instrumental. I don’t think I’ve ever done it where I just went into the studio and said “whatever happens, happens” — usually it’s like today we’re writing a vocal track and we’ll approach from that angle or the opposite just because it’s a very different vibe that I try to create when I’m doing an instrumental track. You kind of have to start from the beginning and build that way.
I noticed you recently worked with Pentatonix on the “Radioactive” song and you formally worked with Lzzy Hale, is there anyone else on your wish list that you wish you worked with?
What’s so cool about this album, too, for me is I got to work with some of my wish list people. That was pretty awesome. I was able to work with Christina Perri on this album and I was able to work with Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, I’m such a Weezer fan. I still am. When I was in high school, my band, we wanted to sound like them and getting to work with Andrew McMahon, I love Something Corporate I love Jack’s Mannequin.
These are people that I’ve loved for a really long time... I can’t believe they’re on my album.
So if people were looking forward to coming to the concert on July 11, what can they expect from you? I know we’ve seen your YouTube videos and how well they’re put together but live concerts, what do you kind of bring to the table there?
It’s funny I remember being, one time, overhearing somebody. They didn’t realize, I was kind of out and about…. They said “I wonder if she dances or if she moves on stage? They were like “yea that would be really cool if she did, she probably moves a little bit.”
And I was like “oh my goodness, they’re going to be so surprised.” It’s a very, very energetic show. It’s very full of choreography. I have dancers, I dance with them. It’s a very athletic, exhausting show and I love it. It’s full of energy and it’s full of life. Everything from costume changes to some fun effects we do.
I want it to mean something. I hope people will walk away not only being highly entertained, but I hope that they’ll be energized to go out and do the things that they want to do. I hope they leave feeling surprised.
I watched a different interview you did, and you mentioned that “Crystallize” was the song and video where you were like, “I made it,” is that something you think you’re going to play on July 11?
I usually don’t like to give away the song, but we will be playing “Crystallize”... I can say that. That song I think if I didn’t play it, people would be so disappointed. It’s one of those songs that I think I’ll always play, so yes I will be doing that one.
That has more than 155 million views since you posted it, so that’s incredible.
Oh I know, that’s crazy to me. That is absolutely insane to me.
When you post the videos on YouTube, like on Tuesday you had another one that just came out, what is it like for you to watch that? Is it kind of an anticipation where you check back every five minutes to see what the view count is and what the reactions are? Or what is a day like for you when you put a video up?
When I release a video it’s kind of like Christmas morning for me. I just get so excited. This video I’ve been working on for months. I thought of the idea for “The Arena” when I was writing the song six months ago. You work so hard on set. I worked so hard with Derek to learn the choreography, and the costuming to bring this whole vision to life. It takes a lot of time. And I get so excited about it. I’m very, very heavily involved in all my videos. And I edited it… I was actually up all night… color correcting it. Then to finally release it, and then I’m checking Instagram to see what screenshots people are pulling and what people are saying and it gets so exciting to see something you worked on in silence for so long, and then you get to finally share it with the world and see a reaction.
It is like Christmas morning for me. I love it. It’s so exciting.
Do you think that is what you’re most looking forward to about the tour, being able to share what you’ve been working on for the past year, six months?
For sure, that’s why I think I love touring so much. For me the studio is the hardest part. It’s hard to be locked in a room and creating, kind of creating in a vacuum I feel like. ...Every day is hoping you’re going to write something amazing. It’s a little bit stressful to me, having to be vulnerable over and over and over again. But then I get to make the videos... now people are enjoying it. But then when you go on tour, you get to perform and you get to literally in real time look at someone’s face and see them smiling and responding to what you’re doing. You’re giving them energy, they’re giving you energy. It’s this amazing connection. I think it makes it so… it takes out this like ambiguous face of someone in China or Brazil watching something that I put online, no, we’re together in the same room and we’re all smiling.
There’s something amazing about that. Can’t wait to experience that. I miss touring so much.
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