Lindsey Stirling Talks Performance, Gratitude, and Comic Books

“One of my favorite things about my fans is how eclectic and diverse they are.  I’ll have ravers in the back that are spinning lights, little girls in tutus,...

“One of my favorite things about my fans is how eclectic and diverse they are.  I’ll have ravers in the back that are spinning lights, little girls in tutus, and older couples that just love violin.  Sometimes I’ll see the line for the meet-and-greet and be like, ‘Who are all these people?’” says Lindsey Stirling, the violin-wielding electronic artist known for her live shows that combine music, dance, and video.  On August 3rd she brought her Artemis Tour to The Met for the venue’s first show since the pandemic began.  The spectacle resembled a cross between a Vegas show and a motivational seminar, with a performance that had Lindsey and her electric violin backed by a full dance troupe, video segues, and even a handful of monologues encouraging the youth in attendance to follow their dreams and not fear being their true selves.  Surrounded by a plethora of families, it felt a bit like the biggest-budget school assembly of all-time.

“I want people to walk away feeling really uplifted.  I want kids to know that they can do anything,” Stirling tells me during a phone chat earlier this week.  It’s the first time I’ve talked to her since 2012, right before she embarked on her first US tour, which included a stop Upstairs at World Café Live, where she performed to a capacity crowd of 220… a far cry from The Met’s 3,500-capacity.  While she did bring her dancing shoes (both literal and metaphorical) and multimedia to her show at World Café Live’s Lounge, having it on a grand scale makes for something far more all-consuming, something that she tells me she’s very proud of: “I want people to be so fully entertained and glad they bought their ticket, so I pay attention to all of those elements, from music to dance to video.  I seriously have as much fun planning the show as performing the show.”

Lindsey’s current tour, which kicked off July 3rd in Kansas City and wraps September 10th at Summerfest in Milwaukee, is in support of her fifth full-length, Artemis.  The album has topped three Billboard charts (Independent Albums, Top Classical Albums, and Top Dance/Electronic Albums) and already produced eight singles, most recently “Masquerade,” for which she recently released a music video inspired by silent films of the early 20th century (which you can see below).   Additionally, Lindsey has released a six-volume comic book that works as a companion to the album.  “When I started thinking about Artemis, I had some pretty complicated ideas and characters,” she tells me, before adding, “It also switched up the writing process for me in an exciting way.”  She tells me that the comic book narrative enabled her to create a story that would have far more limitations in other mediums.

“I’ve kind of dabbled with the idea of a comic book before.  But I love storytelling.  I feel like that’s my best talent as an artist, not playing violin.  And with comic books you can create any world you want, no budget pending.”

Although she tells me that she becomes quickly enamored with each of her tours, Lindsey tells me that this current run quickly earned a special place in her heart: “I always love touring, always love being onstage, but this certainly was special.  I felt it backstage, I felt it onstage, I felt it with my crew, and I felt it with the audience.  I remember when the tour first started, seeing people tearing up with gratitude.”  And when I ask her about some of her personal highlights of the past decade in general, after mentioning getting to collaborate with Evanescence’s Amy Lee on “Love Goes On and On” (“That was amazing.  That was a huge thing, from remembering sitting in my car as a teen and listening to ‘My Immortal’ to actually doing a song with her.”) and her very first show (“Honestly, doing my first show was probably my biggest highlight.  It was at Webster Hall and there were only 300 people, but it was sold out and I realized that I could really do this.”), she also mentions a more recent highlight that was also made more meaningful in light of the pandemic: “Doing a Christmas special this last year, during COVID, and pulling my crew together and the sense of gratitude in that space.  My dancers were getting to dance and my crew were getting to build things.  That was one of my biggest highlights.”

Lindsey Stirling has about three weeks left on the Artemis Tour, but when I ask her what she’s most excited about for the future, she tells me there’s already another tour in the works: “I’m really excited that we’re going on the Christmas tour.  I just love Christmas and I’m so excited to be on tour again.”  Although those dates are yet to be announced, she does have a number of overseas dates next February and March.  She also tells me that she’s anxious to finally get a chance to work on some new music: “I finally get to start writing music again.  I think I might do a rock album.  I’ve done five albums now and I always want to switch things up.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.