Violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling has grown from one of the earliest pioneers of streaming success cultivated on YouTube to that of a renaissance artist combining myriad talents in garnering ample mainstream acclaim.
And the constantly evolving creative who helped rewrite the rules of how to make it says she’s mulling over a decidedly new style of album ahead of her Nashville show at Ascend Amphitheater on July 31.
“After this tour, I’m definitely going to start writing a new album of some sort. I haven’t decided, though I think it needs to be very different from anything I’ve ever done,” Stirling said. Do I go in a rock direction for my next project? It’s just got to be different.”
Her millions of fans need not contemplate any change just yet. Stirling is set to bring her existing larger-than-life combination of classical violin playing, electronic music, graceful dance choreography, self-designed costumes and original comic book lore inspired visuals to Ascend in support of her Billboard No. 1 charting (classical, dance and independent categories) 2019 concept album “Artemis.”
But, as she explained, the “Artemis” tour is probably her last dance with EDM for the foreseeable future.
“I feel like intuition guides so strongly. When I was making my last album, ‘Artemis,’ I had a pretty distinct impression that this was the last of this sound I was going to do for a really long time,” Stirling said. “I just felt like I’ve kind of said everything and played everything that I kind of need to play in that exact sound and style.”
Before restarting her tour this year, Stirling took part in experimental writing sessions focused on different styles, some as far out of left field as disco.
“(The rock session) kept being the one I was most excited about. I tried a lot of different styles, and the sessions I was having the most fun in and that felt the truest were the rock ones,” Stirling said. “It takes me back to my roots. I was in a rock band in high school.
“There’s something nice about having real instruments. I’ve gotten so used to just having synthesizers, where the violin is the only real instrument. It was fun to play with other musicians and just jam. It just rang true.”
Though the idea of a rock album isn’t set in stone, when asked whom she might like to bring in to work with on any potential effort, Stirling was quick to reel off a couple of names.
“There’s so many artists that I love and I would love to work with. I think at the top of my list, I love Pink. She definitely has a voice that is geared toward rock. That would be amazing. I could just die if I got to work with Pink someday,” Stirling said. “Same with Avril Lavigne. I know she’s starting to work on new music again. She’s one of the people who inspired me to chase music, as well as Evanescence, Amy Lee, who I’ve worked with several times. Working with Amy also kind of made me excited about going in the rock direction.”
Making a change of that level is just a part of the process for the multifaceted and devout pursuer of new art and skills.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Stirling stayed busy, starting her first podcast, finishing creating a comic book, and learning the bizarre art of hair hanging over three months for a routine.
“When I do new things, it makes the art feel fresh. I like to combine all these new things I do with the violin somehow,” Stirling said. “It all pertains to my career, the things I love. It just keeps that violin feeling exciting. It’s evolving. I don’t feel stagnant when I think about it.”
Hair hanging, an aerial act in which performers are suspended by their hair, in particular proved a challenging new addition.
“It was definitely insane. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done,” said Stirling, noting that she has now retired that part of her performance repertoire. “It was so taxing on my mental health and my actual physical body. ... But it was a huge experience for me to remind myself that I can do hard things and that we’re all stronger than we know.”
Stirling says the courage and drive to pursue her various eclectic muses and interests come from her father and sister, who are both writers she has long admired for their work ethic.
She remembers her dad, a screenwriter, reading screenplays as bedtime stories, sometimes interspersed with actual stories from his life as a working artist.
“It was fun because you couldn’t always tell which ones were real and which ones were made up, and it didn’t really matter,” Stirling said. “I just thought my dad was so fascinating, and I wanted to live a life of adventure like him. I said that from a really young age.”
By age 8, Stirling had made her first costume, a kangaroo get-up. In high school, she was already spending time editing videos on early home software with friends.
“I just took all these hobbies that seemed so disjointed and so random, I didn’t think they’d ever, ever go into one thing. They were just things I loved,” Stirling said.
That drive kicked in not only in combining diverse pursuits and on blazing a new trail to stardom, but also in overcoming cross-dominance (mixed-handedness that can lead to motor skills difficulty) in learning the violin.
“I wasn’t willing to just accept what life handed me,” Stirling said. “I was going to go out there like my dad. I was going to find it and I was going to chase it.”
With shows now returning, she’s actively on that chase once more after a COVID-19 pandemic fueled shutdown that forced her plane to turn around and head home the same day it landed in Colombia for a South American tour in early 2020.
Suddenly, a calendar filled with South American dates where she was meant to be playing for thousands of fans suddenly emptied to months of mentally unwinding with her family on her sister’s farm in Missouri.
But those reinvigorating days have come to a close and since given way to the stage once more.
“It felt like coming home to be back on tour for so many reasons. I love touring and being able to meet fans, see people’s faces, connect with different people from different walks of life and beliefs,” she said.
“When you’re on stage and looking at people, it doesn’t matter what your differences are, what your political views are or what your race is. You have this amazing connection with people. It helps me really love people so much because I get to see them in those moments.”
And Stirling hopes her performances will speak to audience members the way her dad’s stories once spoke to her.
“I really just hope with all my heart that every time I get on the stage that people leave the concert uplifted,” Stirling said. “I hope that they are smiling, make memories with their family and feel inspired.”