Sydney Takeshta

Grounded & Grateful – Lindsey Stirling Talks Getting On Stage & Giving Back

With a visual and versatile tour underway, a critically-acclaimed comic book series under her belt, and more adoration for each and every aspect of what she does than ever before, multi-hyphenate violinist Lindsey Stirling is having quite the year… even given the circumstances.

An entertainer for the ages, Lindsey Stirling wants to remind you to never abandon your roots. Your friends, family, supporters, and mentors are who shaped you and, quite possibly, helped elevate you to the position you’re in today. That is what keeps her humble and real, even after multiple chart-topping albums, otherworldly opportunities around the globe, moments on America’s Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars, and so much more. The electrictifiying, soulful, bubbly, and “resourceful” star stays close to those who were by her side before the entire world was – AKA long before she was headlining the Beacon Theatre (Next week on August 2), promoting her fifth (!) studio album, and having Maria Von Trapp moments.

Anime-infused, multi-dimensional, and thoroughly entertaining, Stirling’s Artemis Tour is a can’t miss event. Sonically hypnotizing, astonishingly emotional, and sincerely gratifying, the upbeat and heartwarming nature of both the revered violinist and her stellar artistry is enchanting for all. She’s just as lovely, thoughtful, and attentive when chatting over the phone, as well, with a twinkling vulnerability and an overpowering sweetness that is evident throughout the entire conversation.

How does it feel to be part of the new generation of touring artists in a sort of post-pandemic landscape? I can only imagine how both riveting and monumental it must feel for you to be back on stages.

I was so excited to see a whole, real audience there for the first show in over like a year and a half, so it was a pretty special experience. At first I’m so nervous about getting on the stage after not having that ability to deal with nerves like that for a year and a half. I was like, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to calm these nerves?” You cannot practice that feeling. I practiced being on stage so much at home, but I cannot prepare for all the feelings that you have when you step on a stage. Although, I very quickly realized that people are just so happy to be out and they are so happy to be at a show. I was like, “I could just go to the zoo and they’d probably be thrilled,” you know? I really am just so grateful that I honestly get to be a part of this brand new way for people going out into the world and bringing people together again. It’s just such a blessing and  I’m so happy. It feels like I’m back home.

Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear. And I know firsthand that you are one of the most dynamic showstoppers of the modern age. You transcend genres and generations in the most upbeat, prolific, and magical sense. When it comes to bringing your lovable personality alight on stage amid the most evocative pieces of music, what is your process? What is your approach to building out a live performance – and an entire tour like Artemis – to life?

I love planning shows! I really do. It’s one of my favorite things – and it’s funny, because I actually enjoyed the process of planning the tour as much as I do enjoy actually being on stage. It’s just so much fun for me to be able to have such a cornucopia of creativity where you get to think about everything from the colors to the costumes to the videos that play on screen to what I’m going to talk about to what the set list is. Are we going to have props? What are the different themes of each number? I think one of my favorite things to do when I’m planning a show is to think that there’s this overarching show we’re all at, but what journey am I going to take them off? Then it’s a bunch of sprinkle in this idea of ‘what are the moments?’ To me, life is about finding the moments, just little moments throughout every day, every week, month, that stand out. They end up being these little sparkles in your memory. I can think of things that happened at Disneyland when I was a kid and those are those moments to me. Disney is so great at creating moments, so in the show, I’m like, “What are the moments that people are going to say, ‘Oh, that stood out to me!’” I can see it in people’s faces – and now you see it in the photos, because all the phones go up at the moment. That’s always so fun for me to think of. It could be humor, too, because again, it’s like bringing out all the different sides of things I like about myself as a person or myself as a performer. It can also be like a magic trick I’ve done on different tours. That was really fun. Sometimes adding some bits of aerial acrobatics in – just anything that at one point in the show, it makes people [gasp] and say, “Oh, wow!” It makes them feel a little bit like that little kid that we all have inside of us because they’re experiencing a spectacle or humor or something within the music. That’s one of my favorite things to think about as I’m planning the show: what are the moments?

It’s like taking an album that most people in the audience already know and kind of turning it into an event.

Right, a whole package to experience.. Yeah, absolutely.

That reminds me immensely of your music video for “Masquerade,” which is a stunner, by the way. The setting, the backdrop, the outfits, wigs, aesthetic. Oh my goodness! How much fun was creating that video and co-directing it?

Thank you! It’s so fun. I actually did the costuming myself on this video. I designed the dresses. I found them. I went to the fabric district and got all the remnants to add to them. I really worked hard on just bringing that video to life in all the ways it needed. I styled the girls wigs. I bought my dancers to go off Amazon and they came and they were a disaster, so I actually took some glue and like Bobby pins and styled them myself. So a ton of work went into that from the practicing to the choreography to the costumes to the editing. I did all the editing on it, as well. Again, I love the process, so I really enjoyed all of it, but it was really funny because my own outfit didn’t come! It was the day before the video shoot and my main dress didn’t make it. My corset came, but the rest didn’t make it in time. And so I was sitting in my room literally the night before we were supposed to shoot, just thinking, “What are we going to do? I don’t have a dress!” I suddenly looked at my curtains and I realized, “Whoa, those are beautiful curtains.” I took the curtains down in my room and I turned them into a skirt and then I made it a lace shirt under the corset. So anyway, in the video, I’m wearing a curtain in the whole thing. It’s kind of funny. I love moments like that, though. It takes me back to how Lindsey started her career. This is why I’m here today – it’s because I’m a pretty resourceful person. I will figure out how to get it done, even if I’m wearing my curtain, you know, in a really, really expensive music video.

Oh my gosh, who doesn’t love a little Julie Andrews / Sound of Music moment? That’s amazing… and you would never have known that that happened because it was so beautiful.

Well, thank you. Thank you. I had the same thought. [Laughs] I was like, “Wow, I’m living my best Sound of Music life right now!”

I can’t even believe it. Wow. Getting off of “Masquerade,” the chart-topping album that this tour is named after is just about two years old now, and probably even older to you as the creative process must have stemmed from much earlier than September 2019. With that being said, what is it like to revisit some of these captivating, emotional, and both literally and figuratively electric songs at this time and place in the world in front of an audience?

What’s really cool is that I went on tour with this album in Europe right when it came out and was like fresh out of the womb and new. It’s funny, because it’s a different experience to tour with it now because then it was exciting, fresh, and new, but now I have a different relationship with all of these songs because one, I finished the comic book story that inspired the whole album to begin with. It’s like I know it better because I finished the story. Also, I’ve done so many music videos for it now that I didn’t have when I went on tour with it originally. Now it’s like I have a deeper relationship with the show, because I’ve experienced it on multiple platforms! It’s also fun, because there’s a bigger reaction from the audience when a song starts because they are familiar with it, as well. Before they’ve never really seen those videos or started having relationships with the song, too. It’s really fun because a lot of times I feel like as an artist, when you tour an album, by the time you’re done touring it, you’re still getting to know it in a way. Now, though, I’ve done all of the music videos, I worked anime into the record, I’ve done all this stuff. It’s really fun to revisit it live again now and get to share it. I also think it really helped me turn the show around and take it to another level of being able to add more story elements from the comic book into the actual and it’s just given it a lot more depth.

For sure. Just the aspect of anime being weaved into the show must make it so visual, so then to be able to dive deeper into that narrative and pull on it in a concert setting is probably just so immersive.

Definitely! That’s what I really hoped for, it is really fun. Even for the costuming, we’ve been able to, yeah, make it more of an immersive experience and it’s so fun for people to follow the art and comic book story, because you’re going to get so much out of this show. But like you said, because anime is so fun and vibrant, even if they haven’t read a bit of a comic book, it still makes the show all the more engaging because of the vibrancy of it. So it’s like whether or not they had any idea what all of this alludes to, it’s still fun. 

Absolutely! There is such a spirit in this record that I am enamored by. There are moments where strong bass lines stand out or twinkling piano notes come through, but always that pronounced, supple violin is the star. Even when there’s a voice intertwined, such as Amy Lee’s or Elle King’s. Personally, my favorite song is “Aurora,” but as the artist and performer, I’d love to know which song is closest to your heart, if any can even be chosen.

You know, I really have loved “Between Twilight.” I think that’s one of my favorite ones on the Artemis album, because it’s just such a pretty lullaby. I feel like it’s the prettiest melody I’ve ever written. I don’t write a lot of songs like that, and so, to me, it just stood out. It is one of my favorite numbers to put on in the show but then again, I love “Masquerade” because it always felt like it was humorous to me and I always felt like it was…. I don’t know, it always looked like it was funny to me and needed to tell a comical story. That’s why that video was so fun to make. It just was full of personality.

It is a theatrical and dynamic piece for sure, and was only elevated by the video! Now, I’d love to talk a bit about the heart-warming and soul-stirring nonprofit of yours, The Upside Fund through Community Partners. First of all, the name? So hopeful. Second, the message and motivation? I could cry. How did this all come together and what do you hope for this project of yours?

You know, it all started several years ago when – actually, I don’t even know how it started! It was just on a whim one day. I think I got an email that just made me be like, “Oh my gosh, so many people need to be helped.” A fan somehow sent me a message or something and so I went on my Instagram after making a brand new email and I said, “Hey, if you or your family is struggling right now, send an email. I would love to help you.” I got a thousand emails. Thousands. It was so overwhelming and also very emotional. I spent like several days off all day just reading through these emails and one of my best friends was like, “I’ll help you. I bet you’re inundated.” And I was like, “I am!” One of my best friends and I just went through all these emails and I picked a bunch and I granted them the money to help with their needs. Then I started doing this every Christmas. It became like the Christmas tradition, but then once the pandemic hit and so many people were in need, I decided to make it like an official thing. I started it with a name called The Upside Fund. It’s really cool because now that it’s an official fund – because I had, in the past, fans say that they would like to help, too,” but I did not have an official way that they could literally donate, you know what I mean? Now that I have a website, it’s really cool, because The Upside is a place where people can come to receive or they can also come to give if they want. It’s just helping families in need. I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to do that. The stories that I get back from people are just so incredible. I know that it brought my fan community closer together, too, to have this special community. 

How mesmerizing to go from having these conversations with your fans and your inner circle to being truly able to do something about real world issues – from that one little message and post.

It’s been really special. I’m just grateful. In the pandemic, myself, the reason that I’m ok at this moment is because of my fans. I know I’m going to do ok because they’ve supported me for years and bought my songs and bought my tickets and things like that, so I thought, “Well, it’s now my turn to make sure they’re ok.” I know it’s just a corner of the world, but to make sure that the people are ok and let them know it’s all gonna be ok? It’s important.