Interviews | June , 18th 2018
It’s rare that an artist who mixes genres in as odd a fashion as Lindsey Stirling does makes it to the top of the music industry, but when the songs are great enough and the talent shines through in every track and during every performance, wonderful things can happen. The musician has paved her own road to success by blending electronic dance music and violin performances, which is something the world hadn’t heard before she came along.
Since first breaking on YouTube over a decade ago, Stirling has toured the world, moved millions of copies of her songs and albums, and she has even landed a pair of top five records on the main Billboard albums chart, which is something many people working in more...traditional...genres aspire to. She has developed a massive, dedicated fan base and has worked with big-name brands, and through it all, she’s stayed true to who she is and kept making the music she wants to make.
I spoke to Stirling about her unique style and what it takes to get her on board with a project.
McIntyre: You mix dance and what I want to call classical music into something new. What role do you think you have in getting young people interested in classical music, or maybe specifically the violin, when that might not be at the forefront of pop culture at the moment?
Stirling: What role do I have? I will say, it is really awesome, I have meet and greets every single day where 50 people can have a meet and greet pass and little girls come all the time and they bring their little violins. You know, adults or teenagers will come with violins that they want signed and it's so cool when I hear someone say, "I picked up violin because of you," or, "My daughter is now playing the violin because of you."
It's really cool because I think that the violin was becoming such an unrelatable instrument, and really classical music in general. It just was unrelatable to a lot of people. It was almost something that you thought your grandparents would love, classical music. Yeah, I love it that now there are kids that are super excited about the violin and seeing it for what it can be. Who says that the violin has to be only classical? I think it's beautiful that it can be multiple things. It can play classical music, it can play electronic, it can play rock-n-roll, you know? I love that whether people play the piano, violin, or whether they are a dancer, they can be whatever they want to be. You can mold whatever you do into fitting yourself rather than trying to mold yourself to fit what everybody else has always done with this art.
McIntyre: What do you actually call your style of music? Do you have a specific phrase?
Stirling: You know, to be honest, I don't know what to call it. I've always called it a mix between classical and EDM and pop. I've been called a rave pixie before, which I thought was probably the best description I've ever been called, a dancing, rave pixie. Sure, I'll take it. I mean, I think that's one of the things I actually really like about my style is that it's undefinable. I don't even know what to call it, you know? You can't quite fit it into a box and when I first started, that was a really bad thing. Everywhere I went, people said, "You're too different. We don't know what to do with you." That word kept coming up, “different.” They didn’t know how to categorize me, and it was a problem.
However, now, I think that's what people love. When people come to the shows, they're like, "It was so cool and so unique and so different. That's why I had to come see it. That's why I like listening to it and that's why I bought your album, it's different."
It's really interesting to me that the same exact reason that people said I would never succeed, I feel like, is one of the big reasons that I have [succeeded]. Everybody is afraid to be different. We revere it when we see it in other people, "Oh, they're so unique, they're so different, they're not afraid of what other people think." It's scary as an individual to have the courage to step out of the mold and be different, but that's what gives life flavor. That's what makes people interesting, it's actually what is the flavor of life is when people are themselves and authentic and different.
McIntyre: That's fair. You had an album in 2016 that did very well. Can you tell me what it's like to be the kind of artist that charts top 10 albums now?
Stirling: It’s awesome, I mean, I'm so grateful that I get to do my art and I get to do it the way I want to and that people continuously come to see it. I've gotten to travel all over Europe, you know, riding bikes in Brussels on a day off. It's pretty amazing that I get to do what I love and people keep coming to see it and that makes me so happy. It's also so amazing to get to perform the songs live. It takes an album to a whole new level for an artist
Then you make your music videos and it's like you're really getting serious and then when you get to go live and perform them and you get to see people react in a situation where you can see their faces, you can see their smiles, and you can see it every single night... There are thousands of people that are excited to be there but there are a couple people every night that you can tell are so, so happy that they are living this moment with you and that's what makes it amazing. That's what makes all the writing and all the hard work and all the traveling and everything pay off. What I love is getting to see those faces that are so magical and I share with people.
McIntyre: You’ve partnered with a lot of big companies in your career—how do you decide what brands you will work with or which ones might not fit with who you are?
Stirling: Well, I guess pretty much my first inclination is if it's something that goes along with my standards. I have pretty specific standards in terms of what I want to represent. For example, I don't do anything with alcoholic companies just because I have a very family-friendly brand. I always want it to be clean and uplifting. That's kind of what gauges what I work with and then if it's something that I love, that makes me really excited and want to do a bigger partnership versus a one-off. I don't do very many of those little things because if I'm going to do a partnership, I want it to be something that I really believe in and something I'm excited about. Usually, if it's something that's family-friendly and uplifting, I'm excited about it.