Young violinist Lindsey Stirling has taken an unconventional and ultramodern path to stardom in the music industry. An alumni of 2010’s “America’s Got Talent” TV competition (she was eliminated in the quarterfinals), Stirling took to the Internet with beautifully shot and edited music videos on YouTube.
Those videos and a huge YouTube following (nearly 1.7 million followers on her channel www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp) garnered more than 242 million plays.
Stirling, 26, a classically trained violinist, has a personalized style of play that has earned her nicknames the “hip-hop violinist” and “dubstep violinist,” as she plays violin oftentimes over top of hip-hop or electronic dance music.
She will playing Wednesday, March 13, at the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati.
We spoke with her about her rise from cyberspace to the world of live performances.
You are an Internet sensation and growing worldwide star, what do you love about taking your show on the road?
Honestly, I get to do all the things I truly love to do. I get to travel the world with amazing people. I actually wasn’t sure I would. When I started, I didn’t know the band, the sound guy or really a lot of others on the tour. I remember meeting everyone and praying that it would all work, and now we are all best friends. It makes the shows fun. I also get to meet my fans and seeing the individual faces of all the people helps make it all real — and worth it.
So you mentioned that you didn’t know the band, Drew (Drew Steen — https://twitter.com/thekidd86) and Gavi (Jason Gaviato — https://twitter.com/IMGAVI). How did that partnership come to fruition?
My previous manager worked with Drew and recommended him to me. So we asked him to join me for one show. So he and Gavi flew into New York City and we practiced for two days, and then did a show. That show really helped launch us as we got a booking agent and then got a tour. So we all just jumped in a tour bus and became best friends.
You are often called a hip-hop violinist or a dubstep violinist. How would you describe your style?
Laughs … I have been called a lot of different things – “The Dancing Violinist,” “The Zelda Violinist,” hip-hop, dubstep … . I don’t really have one that I classify myself as. I have played classical covers, game covers, original music and even rock ’n’ roll. There’s one motto I like to stand behind … Become whatever you are. I don’t fit nicely into a box. There is no box. But I do enjoy creating original music, and love EDM (electronic dance music), which is where a lot of my original pieces would fit.
You mentioned Zelda and gaming music, and you have a large following in the gaming community, how did that come about?
That really started with YouTube filmmaker Devin Graham (www.youtube.com/user/devinsupertramp) suggesting a collaboration with the Zelda Medley (www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3KUyPKbR7Q). I was also often told I look a little Elvish (laughs). He introduced me to the game and the music, which I loved. The Zelda collaboration really launched me into the world of gamers. Other gaming covers came from that. And I really love the gaming community and all of their support.
Speaking of Devin Graham, I read somewhere that he helped you with a lot of your videos, which are beautifully shot, are you still working with him?
During the first year, he helped film almost all of my videos. He also was the one who really made me aware of YouTube. It was a great collaboration where I did the editing and a lot of the pre-production. He is now so busy (and so am I) travelling the world, so now I often hire a cinematographer or a director to help with my videos, but I still am very involved in the editing and concept.
They are beautiful and elaborate. When you shoot a video like “Elements” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf6LD2B_kDQ&list=PL5DF6078ABC09FBCD&index=1), do you use dummy violins so as to not destroy the instrument?
Laughs. Yeah I often use a “stunt violin” which I bought cheap off eBay. The funny thing is that it won’t ever hold a tune. So I am playing this instrument during my video shoots, and it sounds horrific. But I have to look peaceful and still, while others on the set are laughing because of the way it sounds.
So a stunt violin for videos, when you perform do you use multiple instruments or just one?
I generally use one violin — a carbon-fiber body that I bought from a small company called Luis and Clark (www.luisandclark.com) — that was a Christmas present I gave to myself. I was really starting to get worried about my acoustic violin — my baby — because of being on the road and the hazards associated with travelling every day.
Speaking of the road, you have been on a world tour really since last fall and have very little let up before June. How hard is the travel?
If you would have asked me last week, I would have said I was pretty resilient. But this week, of course, we all got sick, which makes it hard as the body and the mind need rest. That said, I love it — seeing the world and all of the fans.
I know that if I go out of town for a week, I get tired and ready to be home. How do you get up each and every night despite not feeling well?
I really feed off the energy of the crowds. Walking on stage and seeing the fans — that energizes me. I also get to do a meet-and-greet with about 100 fans before every show that is really rewarding. Seeing the excitement of supporters who oftentimes have driven a long way to meet me is amazing. These moments have motivated me to say ‘Hey … I have to give the show of my life.’ It is the least I can do for my fans. It really changes your perspective. I often feel more energized after the show because of the pulse of the crowd.
What would you be doing if you weren’t performing?
I would be a recreational therapist working with troubled teenage girls
Best advice ever given?
Keep people first. It is easy to get wrapped up in life and get too busy, but it is important to keep the people you care about close.
Jimmy Eat World — “Bleed American”
Where would you most like to perform?
Other hidden talents?
I don’t know … scrapbooking? (laughs) — I love it and I think I am a pretty good scrapbooker.
HOW TO GO
Concert info: Lindsey Stirling is playing Wednesday, March 13, at the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati. Tickets are $18 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com/event/1600497BAAF42F20.
For more information about Lindsey Stirling and her music:http://lindseystirlingviolin.com/http://www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp