Electronic violinist discusses her early memories of Christmas, what her upcoming tour will feel like, and her new album
Lindsey Stirling has had a busy year. From her current stint on Dancing with the Stars to the release of her first ever holiday album, Warmer in the Winter, all in advance of her upcoming tour, the electric violinist has seemingly turned up everywhere. Despite the packed schedule, the joyous performer has continued to impress in every medium she takes on.
She’s filled her new holiday recording with a combination of classic Christmas tracks and newly penned originals that take listeners through every stage of holiday feelings. To get the mood just right, Stirling put herself in the Christmas spirit for months, wearing sweaters and beanies despite the heat, as well as continuously listening to the music that’s acted as an inspiration for the LP.
ARTISTdirect’s Christopher Friedmann caught up with Lindsey Stirling to discuss her early memories of Christmas, what her upcoming tour will feel like, and her new album.
Christopher Friedmann: We’re talking because you are about to release a new Christmas album, Warmer In The Winter. Just to start, how is the mood in camp? Are you excited, are you anxious, are you nervous?
Lindsey Stirling: You know, I’m so excited about it and I keep forgetting, I can’t believe it’s coming out tomorrow. But I’ve just been so crazy busy with the tour planning and Dancing with the Stars and shooting music videos constantly for all of these things, but yes, I just finished two months ago or whatever, and then I’ve been so busy that I got reminded about it by my fans. They were like, “Three more days!” And I was like, “Oh wow, it’s coming out.” I can’t believe it. I almost forgot because I’m so in it right now. But yeah, I love this album, so I can’t wait to see what people think.
CF: This is your first ever holiday album. Can you tell us a little about what makes the holidays special to you?
LS: The first thing that comes to my mind is family. Being with family is what makes me love the holidays. And tradition, which again stems from families getting to kind of have these things that you do every year and after awhile you sometimes realize how dumb they are, but it doesn’t matter because they are your traditions and they’re special. And also I’m so excited to do a Christmas album because I really feel like music is such an integral part of Christmas and it really does bring it to life every year. That’s what makes you feel either festive or makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree while you decorate, or it makes you feel the spirit of giving and love and spirituality. That’s why I love Christmas music so much.
CF: You finished the album two months ago, which was certainly outside of the holiday season. How did you get into the Christmas spirit while recording?
LS: We decorated the studio. We put tinsel around the studio and this little Christmas tree and I would wear, even though it was hot outside, I would wear Christmas sweaters, and I would wear Christmas beanies, I had this one with a little ball on top that was super Christmas-y that I would wear a lot while I was writing the album. So really just setting the mood. I also – much to the dislike of my roommates – I listened to so much Christmas music around our house, and watched Christmas movies, so I’ve been, not joking, full-out celebrating Christmas all year, pretty much.
CF: The album features some new, original numbers. What’s different about composing a holiday song in comparison to a normal single?
LS: I loved it. It was so fun to get to write Christmas songs. I would go in and we would sit there in the writing session, and me and the other writer would just talk about our favorite things about Christmas and memories, and what is it that makes Christmas special. I’d get to go into these sessions and just talk about Christmas and memories, and it was really fun and I’d leave all these sessions almost bounding because, ♪here we did just this poppy little song about Christmas.♪ It was really fun and I feel like the writing came a little easier to me than sometimes, for my past albums, I, like, really had to dig so emotionally deep and some of them were really hard things to write about and this was just, like, fun. I just wrote about being cozy and snuggly and dancing and it was awesome.
CF: There are a number of seasonal favorites to be found on Warmer In The Winter. How did you go about making the selections for the album? Were these ones personal favorites or ones that just kind of fit the tone with the originals?
LS: Well, it’s actually quite a diverse album. I wanted to touch on all the different styles of Christmas in a way because there’s so many different types of Christmas songs. Like there are the ones that make you want to dance and be festive, there are ones that are romantic, and then there are ones that are spiritual. That’s kind of the three buckets of Christmas songs, and I wanted to touch on all of those.
I selected the songs, one, to get that, to kind of have all of the three buckets represented, but also while I was writing the album I was planning a tour and so I was kind of writing in order to select some songs that would make not only a good album arc, but also would make for a really nice dynamic show that could give you all the different feels that I like to give my audience in a show. It wasn’t only about what songs do I pick, but it was also about… you could take every Christmas song so many directions, so it was kind of finding what song is going to fulfill the child in me on all of them.
CF: Do you have a particular formative memory of when a piece of Christmas music resonated and struck you as being especially magical?
LS: I have memories as a kid of my dad, he had this old record player that he would play basically all of our music on. He would play these old classical records, and I loved it, and I was so excited when it was Christmas time because he would pull out Christmas records, and there was one with like a green Christmas tree on it and I have no idea what it was called, but it was this classical Christmas record, and it was our favorite, and he would put that on and me and my sisters would just dance around in our little princess dresses from our dress up box, and to me that’s still the feeling I get when I hear certain Christmas music.
CF: As you just said, you are heading out on tour in support of the album in a couple weeks. Can you tell us a little about what to expect from the performances?
LS: I’m really excited about this show. So much so. Right now we’re in rehearsals for it, and it’s just so cute. There’s a little bit of Fred Astaire influence in the choreography, and then there’s also very lyrical and beautiful, and then there are ballet-type numbers. It really is kind of a cornucopia of different sounds and different styles of movement and on top of that we’re building the cutest little Christmas set.
Usually, my shows are much more geared to a little bit of an EDM feel, with big screens and crazy lighting, and this time I’m going very soft. I wanted a Christmas set. The lighting is going to be a lot more subdued, and just a little artistic. It’s not a show where it’s going to be like, “Come and get smacked in the face with a bunch of energy and power.” It’s like, “Cool, come sit down.” There will be lots of energy, of course, but it’s going to be dainty and I’m excited about that.
CF: You are currently on Dancing with the Stars. Can you tell us a little about that experience and how it’s different from your normal role on stage?
LS: It’s so exposing, and it’s actually terrifying to think every week you’re starting fresh, you’re learning a new dance, a new style of dance. Every dance, I don’t think people realize, I never did before, how different every single style of dance is. So you feel a little bit like you’re starting fresh every week, and then the thought that, “Oh wow, I have to go out in front of millions of people and perform this thing that I’ve never before done.”
It’s very exposing and terrifying. All the celebrities are all professionals and really good at whatever it is they do, and then they have to go up there in this unknown arena and act like they know what they’re doing, but it is so, so fun, and I’m having the experience of a lifetime. I keep pinching myself and being like, “Who gets to do this?” The costumes, the sets, the lighting, everything, it’s just an incredible experience and I’m learning so much.
CF: Over the course of your career you’ve had a fair breadth of experiences, but I was wondering if you could tell us of the most grounding moment that you’ve had so far, a moment that reminds you why you do all this?
LS: It’s hard, I have those little moments all the time, sometimes it comes from meeting that fan that is just so gracious and so kind and I know that one time, this was like a year ago, but I was on tour and somehow I found out about this young woman who was in the hospital going through chemotherapy. I think she was, like, a mid-teenager, like 14 years old, and she had tickets for the show originally. She bought them months before, and then ended up having to go into chemo and, of course, not being able to come to the show, and all her friends were going.
Somehow I was able to catch wind of this and find out about it, so me and my band went to visit her in the hospital. I guess it was actually two or three years ago. But what a gift it was to be able to go and meet her, and to make her smile, and I have friends and family that have gone through cancer and died because of it, and I know the battle, and how hard it is, and just the fact that I could go in and just make this girl smile and give her a little bit of hope that day.
What a gift that is for me to be able to share with someone like that. And then about a year later we went and returned to that city, it was Philadelphia, and she came to the show and the meet and greet, and she had short hair, and it was so cool because when I’d seen her before, she had no hair, and it was just so amazing to have that full experience of seeing her, and she was cancer free. It’s those kind of things that make you be like, “This has been an incredible gift given to me that I have the ability to share what I love, and make other people happy because of it.”
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