by Michael Lohr
Lindsey Stirling is a lightning bolt sensation, much like a surprise hurricane that pops up just off shore. Her successful recent appearance on the ABC hit reality show, Dancing With The Stars was a prime example of how this Dubstep fiddle lass is steamrolling into the mainstream.
Hot on the heels of her 2012 America s Got Talent quarter finals stampede, she released her full-length debut album, simply titled, Lindsey Sterling. The album of original compositions was a follow-up to her bestselling Lindsey Stomp EP and wasted no time leaping into the Billboard 200 Album charts at number eighty-one.
Her album also hit number one on both Billboard s Dance/Electronica Albums chart and the Classical Albums chart. Some have dubbed her a Hip-Hop Fiddler, and while that is not completely accurate, it is a title she can live with. After-all, her playing style is an amalgam of Celtic, Classical, Pop, Trance and Dubstep with rhythmic blasts of choreographed, contemporary, interpretive dance.
Born in Orange County, California and raised in Gilbert, Arizona, this 26 year-old rosin bow dynamo graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in therapeutic recreation.
She quickly rose to Internet fame by creating her very own Youtube Channel, Lindseystomp, which has over 1.5 million subscribers. This past autumn, she completed a sold out 26 date tour across the country.
I had the pleasure to get Lindsey to sit down just long enough to discuss all things fiddle, dance and Lindsey
Q. You ve been playing fiddle for over 18 years and you are now 26.
How did you first start playing the fiddle? What was it about the fiddle that first attracted you?
A. I grew up in a family without a lot of money, but that didn t stop us from doing fun things together.
My dad was a genius at finding free family entertainment. One of our most frequented activities was free orchestra concerts. I loved them, and it didn t take me very long for me to figure out who the stars of the orchestra were!
At six years old, I begged my mom for lessons. She was able to find ONE teacher willing to give me a fifteen minute lesson every couple of weeks (because that is all she could afford). I will always be grateful to my persistent mother, and grateful for my first teacher who was willing to give me a chance.
Your musical influences range from Classical and Hip-Hop to Dubstep. What are some of your musical muses? And what was it about these artists that influenced you so?
And how did you decide to attempt to combine fiddle with hip-hop?
A. I loved Bond and Barrage and Vanessa Mae all the cool violinists mostly because they looked like they were having so much fun! I was classically trained, and have great respect for the music and for the great masters of it, but I always preferred the sound and energy of the fiddle because you can t help but dance to it!
I m a yellow personality through-and-through, so fun is what motivates me. My first experience apart from classical music was in high school when I joined a rock band (Stomp on Melvin). This experience taught me how to improvise.
I was always pretty good at playing by ear because I could never read music very well. For years, my struggle to read music had seemed a curse, but I later realized that it was actually a blessing in disguise.
Q. How much work goes into your choreographed performances?
It totally depends on the piece. It definitely takes longer to choreograph while playing violin, as I have to coordinate my violin playing with the rest of my body. I practice one dance move at a time and then build off of that.
It used to take several days to master a simple move, but now (when under pressure) I can learn a dance within a few hours.
Q. How did you decide to create your own YouTube Channel, Lindseystomp?
A. After my devastating experience with America s Got talent, Devin Graham (a popular YouTuber) happened upon one of my original videos (I believe it was the one of me dancing in my apartment).
He contacted me and offered to travel to my home in Utah to film a professional music video. In exchange, he wanted permission to feature it exclusively on his channel. I figured, Why not?
We made Spontaneous Me followed by several others, including Zelda Medley, and Shadows. During this time Devin taught me how to become a partner with YouTube, and allowed me to upload the videos we created to my own channel as well. Devin s YouTube subscribers became my first subscribers, and were the foundation that launched my career as a professional musician.
I will forever be indebted to Devin Graham. He believed in me and ultimately launched my career. (Check out his YouTube Channel at devinsupertramp).
Q. Tell me about your most recent self-titled, self-released album?
How did you make the decision to release this album on your own?
A. I had about six completed songs, all of which were selling well on iTunes. My fans were clamoring for a physical album, but it typically took me around a month to complete one song, and no one wants to buy a CD with just 6 short tracks.
So together with my manager, we set a deadline, met with producers, and created the other six tracks in a matter of weeks. It was pretty intense, and I was worried that the new tracks wouldn t turn out as well as the first six, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Apparently, I work very well under pressure.
You were a quarter-finalist on the fifth season of the TV show, America s Got Talent. While you were described favorably as a hip-hop violinist, you also stated that you came away from the show feeling humiliated. Can you go into some detail about your experience?
I have to say that I am extremely grateful for the experience. I made some amazing friends and it gave me the opportunity to perform for millions of people. However, the experience wasn t what I expected it to be in terms of being a talent show, and when I was X-ed and told that I sounded like rats in front of 10 million people, I almost decided to quit violin altogether.
But in the end, that experience actually fueled my determination to succeed despite what happened, and I decided to prove them wrong.
Q. I ve seen where you have been described in the press as Eddie Van Halen and Mozart meets Skrillex. I think a more appropriate comparison would be David Garrett meets Deadmau5 or David Guetta.
The combination of fiddle with Dubstep electronica on songs like Crystalize, Moon Trance or Spontaneous Me is simply stunning. Honestly, I think you are creating new soundscapes. It s something not heard before.
How did this creative combination of fiddle and Dubstep come about?
A. Following AGT I was searching for myself so to speak. I had always improvised to others music, but I had an intense desire to create my own.
I was referred to Marco G by a friend, and Marco agreed to create and master three tracks for a minimal amount of money up front (I was a poor college student) with the agreement that he could get a portion of its sales on itunes. Basically, he (like Devin) took a chance on me. After our first few tracks together, Marco suggested we try Dubstep.
I was honestly nervous about the release, and worried that it would be ridiculed and criticized, but my fears were proven unwarranted. Crystallize went viral, and is still my most popular song. In just over one year, it has received over 50 million views and was featured on YouTube s top ten YouTube videos of the year.
What is your favorite fiddle brand to play?
A. I don t really condone any one brand. When I m looking for a new violin I go to Robert Cauer Violins (Hollywood, California) and try out as many violins as I can get my hands on.
Every violin plays a little differently, which is why I can t say that I necessarily like one brand over another. However, the last time I visited I left with a beautiful Lois and Clark carbon fiber violin. I love it; highly recommend it!
I also own a Roth, which I love. I tried several pickup brands before I discovered L.R. Baggs, which I also highly recommend.
You once said that you don t chose a violin, the violin chooses you. Can you explain this philosophy?
A. Well that s exactly why I don t prefer a specific brand.
Everyone has a different sound they like, and a different way of playing. Everyone has a different style and way of making their violin sing. When I m trying out different violins, some feel right, others don t.
And when I find the one it feels like Mama s home cookin ! It feels comfortable; like a great memory almost like I ve played it before, or like it has been sitting there all this time just waiting for me to come along! Before I took home my Louis and Clark violin, I spent all afternoon at Robert Cauer playing one violin after another.
I played for nearly 5 hours straight until I finally narrowed my choice down to one.
Q. You studied therapeutic recreation at Brigham Young University and have expressed much interest in the research completed by controversial Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto that looks at the possibilities that human consciousness and sound has an effect on the shape of water molecules. What interests you in these studies?
Have you seen the various studies done with different types of music?
A. My sister is a huge advocate of alternative medicine, and I actually heard about Emoto from a practitioner she recommended to me (Kalli Efros, Indigo Mountain Health and Wellness). I found the concept so intriguing the fact that we are made up of 70% water and that in Emoto s experiment, words/intentions were able to affect the molecular shape of water under a microscope.
Thoughts, words, music they have the ability to affect us and change us. We all know this to be basically true, but to actually SEE the change with your physical eyes very cool! Ironically, I have received dozens of emails expressing that the song I named after this concept ( Crystallize ) has literally created a change in people.
For whatever reason, people struggling with depression, addictions, etc. have expressed over and over again how the song has helped them to overcome addiction or motivated them and given them the power to change. I never expected the song to have that kind of impact, and I have often wondered at the fact that I chose the name I did for that particular song.
You ve recorded cover songs from such far ranging talents as Taylor Swift, LMFAO, Macklamore and The Decemberists. How do you go about selecting a song to cover?
A. When I collaborate with other artists, we have usually decided together which songs we wanted to cover.
Popular covers usually bring the most traffic, but of course I only cover songs that I like. And yes, I am definitely hoping to release an album of covers in the near future.
Q. At this point, will you stay independent or if the right label makes an offer, would you sign a contract?
There are definitely pros and cons of both being independent and having a label. I have enjoyed the freedom of being independent, but I would definitely consider signing with a label if they could offer me more than I am able to do on my own. I like having control of my own music, so they would have to offer me a pretty good deal to catch my interest.
What has been the oddest thing either onstage or off that you ve seen/experienced while on tour? You know, your Spinal Tap moment. (I ask this question of everyone I interview. Some answers are mundane.
Some funny, like the singer who swears a group of Japanese tourists were throwing hamburgers at her on stage in Seattle ~ true story)
A. Oh gosh I have had a lot of odd experiences, but there is one in particular that comes to mind. While performing in Italy, an older woman came on stage with a camcorder and was filming literally a foot away from me.
I was trying to dance, but she kept getting in my way and I was afraid I was going to hit her. She wouldn t leave, so I had to complete the performance with her on stage. Apparently, she had been paid by the people hosting the event to do this, but a camcorder?
At the time I was annoyed, but now I just laugh.
Q. What additional projects are you planning in the future? How is your current tour going?
I would love to release a covers album and possibly a Christmas album. I would love to tour South America. It would be fun to appear in a movie we ve had some talks with Disney about some possibilities.
As for the present, I ve been so focused on tour (and loving it) that I haven t had time to really think about anything else.
I can t say for sure what goals will become a reality, but I m excited to see what this year brings.
To learn more about Lindsey Stirling and her wondrous music please go to these following websites:
Official Home Page:
- ^ http://www.lindseystirling.com/ (www.lindseystirling.com)
- ^ www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp (www.rawaradio.com)
- ^ www.facebook.com/lindseystirlingmusic (www.rawaradio.com)
- ^ https://twitter.com/LindseyStirling (twitter.com)