Lindsey Stirling isn’t your typical violinist. Originally hailing from Mesa, she took up the historically classical string instrument and created a modern brand of music that melds rock, pop and EDM. Her high-energy live performances combine her lively fiddling with funky choreography and larger-than-life sets and costumes. Though she’s toured across the globe, she remains humble and remembers her roots. In fact, she will bring her vigor and violin to the Tixr Lawn at the official grand opening celebration at Bell Bank Park, East Mesa’s new 320-acre sports and entertainment facility, on February 4. We caught up with Stirling to get the scoop on her homecoming, how she handled the pandemic and what’s on the horizon.
You started taking violin lessons at a young age. Why violin? Did it come naturally to you?
I started taking violin when I was 6 years old. I begged for lessons because my parents loved classical music and they were always playing it in our home. They had taken us to some orchestra concerts. There were these free community events where you could go to the park and see the orchestra. I was very exposed to the violin. Very few people, if any, does the violin come naturally. It’s just a strange, awkward instrument. There’s quite a learning curve. A lot of times, I’ll hear people say, “Oh, I tried the violin, but I was terrible.” That’s just learning the violin. You’re terrible for a really long time and I was no exception to that.
Have you always liked being in the spotlight? Did you experience any stage fright when you first started out?
I was a middle child. I had classic middle child syndrome, just craving so much attention. I’ve always been that way and I would find ways to do that as a kid. I remember that I wrote a play and got all the neighborhood kids to participate in it. I’ve always kind of been like “Let’s put on a show!” It’s always been my mantra. In terms of stage fright, it’s ironic that I love to entertain, but on the flipside, I have a lot of anxiety around it and always have. To this day, it’s something that I work on. I love doing shows, I love going on tour, but I have to really combat a lot of pretty severe nerves, self-judgement and anxiety. When I keep it in check, I handle it very well.
You’ve managed to incorporate pop, rock and EDM into your musical style into a genre all your own. How did you develop this and how would you describe it to someone who’s unfamiliar with your sound?
I never know how to describe it. It’s kind of a mix of all my favorite things. Honestly, I just like to make dramatic violin music that’s very modern.
You’ve toured across the globe. How does playing in your hometown compare to performing in Germany?
There’s just something really special about being in your hometown. I think the most unique thing about it is you get to look into the audience and see faces you know. You see your family, you see your friends, and that’s such a unique thing for a touring artist. These are not just my people, but they’re my people from my personal life and my past. That’s really cool.
What are you most looking forward to playing the grand opening of Bell Bank Park?
I’m just excited to see it. I’ve heard amazing things. Even before I knew I was performing there, my friends from Arizona were telling me about it and talking about how excited for this new place that was opening up. I think it’s really cool that something like this is opening up in Mesa. As a kid who played sports and that liked music, it’s kind of a dream-come-true facility.
Describe a live Lindsey Stirling show. What can fans expect?
It’s highly entertaining, I’d like to think. I really put a lot of thought into all the different elements, from choreography, to costumes, to making sure everything sparkles, to the music. I want it to be very theatrical. I want people to smile. I want people to laugh. I hope that people get teary-eyed at moments. I want people to feel all the different emotions. My goal is that even if someone has no idea who I am and they got dragged here by their friend or their wife, I hope they walk away saying, “Well, that was really fun.”
What was your pandemic experience like? Did you feel like you had extra time to explore your creativity or did you experience creative blocks?
I did do a little bit of writing but I was very, very uninspired. I think a lot of artists felt that way, just the lack of experience makes it really hard to write since you’re not getting any stimulation from outside experiences. I found myself feeling uninspired, so I actually took a little bit of a break from the kind of creativity I had always leaned on, which was writing music and doing music videos and all of that. During the first part of the lockdown, I was really fortunate that I got to be with my family. It was really special just getting to bond with my nieces and spend time with my sister and my mom.
You’re very active on social media, giving fans glimpses of your life. Why is connecting with people this way important to you?
I feel like my fans created my entire career. They’ve made everything possible. I’m not your mainstream artist and I never plan on being the artist that has hits across the radio constantly. I’m a violinist. Rather than finding my support through radio or a record label, I find my support through my fans. They’re the people I invest in, they’re the people I like to connect with and make sure that they feel like they’re a part of my journey because they are. Sharing with my fans has always been kind of the bread and butter of my career and I’m very grateful to them.
Do you have any new projects or partnerships on the horizon? What can fans expect from Lindsey Stirling in 2022?
I’m working on new music right now. I’m in the writing phase, which is really exciting. We will see where that takes me. I never quite know where a new album is going to go, so I’m kind of in that discovery phase right now where I’m just writing a bunch of different things and see what sticks.