Lindsey Stirling is a force to be reckoned with. The classically trained violinist, who is best known for using her unique flair to incorporate elements of dub-step, hip-hop and choreography into the world of operatic music, has been hard at work these last few months. From releasing her very own holiday record, to a second-place finish on Dancing with the Stars, the two-time Billboard-award winner has no intentions of slowing down. We caught up with Stirling, who recently kicked off her Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour, to discuss the new album, holiday traditions and an impressive run on ABC’s celebrity dance competition.
CelebMix: What sparked the decision to make your follow-up to ‘Brave Enough’ a Christmas album? Did you feel any pressure given the 2016 LP’s commercial success?
Lindsey Stirling: Actually, I’ve “made plans” for a Christmas album for the last three years, haha. But, other projects kept taking precedence and I’d find myself in November wondering, “Whatever happened to that Christmas album I was going to produce?” And then I’d say to myself, “Oh well…there’s always next year!” Well…it’s finally that year! I think this album is, by nature, so different from the others because most of the arrangements come from already-popular traditional and modern Christmas songs. So, I would say I felt less pressure than I did when I produced my other albums, which contain 100% original content. There’s a lot more personal and emotional investment that goes into creating something entirely your own… when you have nothing to pull from but yourself- which is why Warmer in the Winter was less ‘stress’ and more ‘fun’ for me than probably any of my other albums thus far. I did actually co-produce three original songs for the album, and I’m kinda curious to see which of those original songs my fans enjoy the most.
CM: ‘Warmer in the Winter’ contains a handful of star-studded features, from Becky G to Sabrina Carpenter. What was it like being able to work with these different artists on this special record?
LS: It’s always an honor to work with other amazing musicians in the business. But, even more, I love working with great musical minds who are also great people. It adds value to my work; at least for me, and makes my job that much more enjoyable. I can truly say that I love and admire every single person I was privileged to work with on this album. Wonderful talent; wonderful people. I definitely feel blessed to have crossed paths with them!
CM: You initially began recording outside of the Christmas season. Did you do anything in particular to create the appropriate festive atmosphere and fully get into the holiday spirit?
LS: I guess I just naturally put my mindset into holiday mode [cue Bianca Ryan’s “Why Couldn’t It Be Christmas Every Day.”] When my sisters and I were kids, my mom would NEVER let us play Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, no matter how much we begged. I had to get extra-special permission from her this year…thanks Mom!
CM: Do you have any special holiday traditions that are near and dear to your heart?
LS: SO many! My mom went ALL out for Christmas. We have always gone as a family to pick out a real Christmas tree!
Each morning in December when we were kids, my sisters and I would race each other to the advent calendar to see what the “elf” had brought us the night before, usually little toys and candies. Our family always decorated the tree and the house together and we played Christmas music all December-long on our old record player. Starting December 13th, we chose a family and secretly did the 12 Days of Christmas for them (delivered packages and treats every day starting 12 days before Christmas). We always made and decorated sugar cookies.. and… ehem… ate all those sugar cookies. Mom always made her world-famous banana bread, at least it was famous to us. Mid-December we still dedicate one evening to watching A Christmas Story (classic) and order Chinese food to go with it. Christmas Eve we always went caroling…or dancing…or both…for the neighbors. This was followed by a reading of the Christmas story in Luke 2, accompanied by a live family nativity…complete with legit nativity-looking dress-up clothes. Christmas morning we always read The Book of Mormon version of The Christmas Story (3 Nephi 1) before opening presents. Santa always brought the brown Krate paper gifts with big red bows, and we weren’t allowed to open those gifts until the very end because they were always the most coveted gifts! Of all the traditions, my favorite Christmas tradition is still the annual family “Christmas Craft.” We’ve done everything from Christmas ornaments, ugly sweaters, stuffed snowmen. The crazy-awesome thing about these traditions is that we still do most of them! This year will be the first year without Dad here to enjoy these memories with. It’s not going to be the same without him, but I know he will be there in spirit.
CM: Your Most Memorable Year Viennese Waltz on ‘DWTS’ was absolutely stunning. How did it feel being able to perform such an emotional, captivating dance in honor of your father?
LS: It was an extremely challenging piece to get through emotionally. I remember praying prior to the show and hearing my dad’s voice in my mind. It was a reminder to me that he never truly left. And that’s the message I wanted to convey through this dance. People we love may move on, but we don’t have to lose them. We… the ones they loved… are a living testament to their lives because we wouldn’t be who we are without their influence. Our memories of them keep them alive in us.
CM: You had a remarkable season on the show! What was the most challenging part about this competition?
LS: The injury of my rib had, by far, been the most challenging part about this competition. It’s hard when I WANT to work harder and practice more, but am not able to do so. It has certainly made me grateful for the body I have, which has been strong and healthy the majority of my life. It’s easy to take simple things…like the ability to lift your arm…completely for granted! I am so grateful for the prayers and efforts of friends, co-workers, and family that has made it possible for me to continue on the show. Working with Mark and learning from him has been extremely rewarding. I used to watch DWTS as a teen and young adult and always dreamed of being on the show. So, this was literally a dream come true for me.
CM: Both you and Mark are outside-the-box thinkers when it comes to creativity and pushing the envelope. How was it to have him as your partner throughout the ‘DWTS’ journey?
LS: As a team it is so easy for Mark and I to work together! We bounce ideas off of each other like a game of ping pong and have similar creative and communication styles; it’s been an absolute blast working with Mark. Mark is just an amazing person all-around- amazing dancer, amazing person, amazing team-player, amazing leader, amazing motivator, amazing friend.
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This experience was unreal. @markballas, you were the perfect partner/ coach for me. You brought out so many sides of me that I didn't even know I had, you pushed me through what I thought were my limits, and you found my light and made it shine. I am endlessly inspired by your creativity, your passion and your humor. I cant even count the amount of times we fell to the floor laughing in rehearsals. I knew I would love being on the show but I had no idea that I would gain a best friend out of this experience. You gave me such a gift by guiding me through this journey and My mind is filled with so many moments that I will remember forever. You're a winner in my book a million times over and I'm going to make you the coolest mirror ball. Now let's go tour!
CM: Alexander Jean is even opening for you on tour! How pumped are you to have Mark and his wife BC out on the road as well?
LS: Like I mentioned earlier, it’s very humbling to have people around you who are as equally talented as they are genuine. I can’t wait to experience tour and share the stage with two of my favorite human beings!
CM: What are you most looking forward to during the Christmas tour? Any cities in particular you’re especially excited to perform?
LS: I’m looking forward to seeing how this tour comes together. It’s been tough preparing for tour with an injured rib, and with all the time I’ve had to put into practice (and physical rehab) for Dancing with the Stars, but it’s coming together and I can’t wait to be on the road again! I’m most excited to perform in Phoenix because it still feels like home. And, I’ll be home for Christmas!
Don’t forget to stream Lindsey’s holiday album, ‘Warmer in the Winter’ below and visit her official website for tour dates coming to a city near you.
Be sure to tweet us your thoughts, @CelebMix.