There is no-one else like Lindsey Stirling. We are talking about a classically-trained violinist, from Gilbert, Arizona, entering a futuristic world of big beats and animation – imagine Vanessa Mae leaping through the pages of a Manga comic with Skrillex in hot pursuit. Just months ago, Stirling was signed to Lady Gaga’s management company Atom Factory. Her song ‘Crystallize’ was the eighth most-viewed video on Youtube last year, racking up an incredible 63 million views and over 2.5 million subscribers. With her first ticketed show just twelve months ago, she’s now selling out dates across Europe, America, Russia and Asia. Her debut album has sold 150,000 copies in the US without the backing of a major label, and has gone Gold in Germany (over 100k sold) and Switzerland.
It is hard to believe that Piers Morgan told Lindsey Stirling the world had no place for a dancing dub-step violinist. But being voted off 2010’s America’s Got Talent, at the quarter-finals, turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Rejection simply strengthened Stirling’s resolve to be herself. “The same reasons I was told I wouldn’t succeed are the reasons people travel hundreds of miles to see me now,” she laughs. “Because it’s different. Because it’s something you haven’t seen before...”
Stirling’s debut album features twelve original tracks including viral smashes ‘Crystallize’, ‘Shadows’ and ‘Electric Daisy Violin’. She has created a new musical world where the romance of Celtic folk music and modern classical meet the infectious energy of dance and electronica. In ‘Elements’ you’ll hear rhythm programming and “wub-wub” bass recalling dubstep giants Skream or Benga, while ‘Zi-Zi’s Journey’ and ‘Spontaneous Me’ feature all the thrilling, arpeggio build-ups of trance. On stage, Stirling moves with the grace of a ballerina but works the crowd into a frenzy, “dropping the beat” like some strange, electro-pastoral rave fairy.
Like Imogen Heap or Amanda Palmer, Stirling is the model of modern independent recording artist, with a formidable online presence and a powerful, symbiotic relationship with her fans. She is famed for taking “requests” and has recorded unique versions of the themes from Phantom Of The Opera and Game Of Thrones, the computer games Zelda, Pokemon and Skyrim, and songs by Michael Jackson and Rihanna – uploading them all to Lindseystomp, a YouTube channel packed with music videos and short comedy films, many featuring her alter-ego, a ‘superfan’ called Phelba.
It was no conventional childhood. Stirling was raised within a Mormon community in Arizona. As a teenager, the rigours of classical music training stifled her, and she nearly chose to pursue a career in therapy. But the violin would not let go, and it became a comfort throughout her struggle with an eating disorder in early adulthood.
It was her experience with America’s Got Talent that inspired her to start composing. As a motivational speaker in her spare time, Stirling uses her own story to show teenagers that you’ve got to have confidence in the very thing that makes you unique – then wait for the world to catch up. “We give more liberties to other people than we do to ourselves,” she says. ““We put labels on ourselves, but we love seeing people who just don’t care.”