IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Lindsey Stirling's new album, "Snow Waltz", is available now and tickets are still on sale for her performance at the Mountain America Center, scheduled for December 17th.
Conner Nuckols sat down with the famous pop violinist, Lindsey Stirling, and talked with her about her inspiration behind the new album, "Snow Waltz." Here's what she had to say:
Q: Now Lindsey, your new album comes out today. I’ve been told that this album has a very ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ vibe. What can you tell me about that?
A: Yes, the leading single, I mean I guess it's the album’s name too. The title track is called ‘Snow Waltz.’ I went for a little bit of that fusion between Halloween and Christmas to kind of warm up the album.
Because I feel like there's a gray area, where, people are like it's too early for Christmas, oh no I want to celebrate Halloween but I want Christmas music. So there are a lot of heated discussions that get almost political at some point. So I made a song that really toed that line well. And the music video was so fun. It's very nightmare before Christmas and the skeleton meets the holiday’s vibe. It was so fun to make. I really love the song and I think it’s the perfect lead into the holidays.
Q: Can we expect that vibe to be implemented into the tour?
A: Yeah, we will be bringing tons of new songs into the live show. We're already starting to rehearse them and learning the new choreography. Which just makes it so fresh.
You know I've done Christmas tours three times with one album and it's exciting to have a bunch of new material.
I love bringing music videos to life on stage. So that there's some familiarity for people. They’re like oh, she dressed up like a pirate in the music video, and now she’s a pirate on stage and they're doing some similar antics and it's fun. so we will definitely be bringing that spooky vibe into some songs in the show.
Q: One thing I feel some people forget about you, is that you actually have a gorgeous singing voice.
A: Yes. My vocals are like peppered on the album. Like, even on the first single, there are like these background operatic voices. They're fake operas. When I say opera I say that very lightly. It's me pretending to sing, like (opera singing)
Actually, some of the songs go quite high so I'm really straining. There's no lead vocal, but I do sing some of the lines in some of the songs. Like there’s a bit in "O Holy Night" that I sing and in "O Come, Emmanuel." So I'm peppered throughout but there's nothing like Santa Baby where it's a singing track.
Q: Now if you don’t mind changing gears really quick. You have your own violin line. How did that get started?
A: I’ve been sponsored by Yamaha for years, and they’ve been such an amazing partner. And after having countless fans asking me what violin do you recommend? I never knew what a great answer was. So I worked with Yamaha to not only make my own line of violins but also to have all the bells and whistles that I like to have on my violins.
So the coolest thing to me is there are these custom pegs that are on it. So, anyone who’s a violinist, they know that it’s really hard to tune a violin in a pinch. The pegs stick. It’s not like a guitar where you can screw it. Well, these are special pegs that are like a screw so you can in a pinch on stage or in orchestra class you can quickly tune without having to really dig in there.
I feel all violinists should have them so I put them on mine. So it’s cool because no one does that. It's a customized piece and they’re on my violin.
Q: You have a really cool and unique charity called the Upside Fund to help people pay their hospital bills. How did you decide to set this up?
A: The Upside Fund is something I started years ago after I lost my dad and best friend to cancer. So I spent the holidays to an extent in the hospital with both of them at different times.
So the following Christmas after my dad passed away, my heart was so full of remembering that I was in the hospital the previous year. So I just went on Instagram and I was just like, “Hey if you’re struggling with medical bills or are in the hospital this year, let me help you.”
I got thousands of emails from people sharing what they needed help with. Medical bills are such a problem in our country.
So at first, I just started helping people pay their medical bills. Then I turned it into an official 501C3 so I didn’t get into trouble. It’s actually quite dangerous to give away large sums of money. You can get in trouble with that. So I started a 501C3 and it’s been really cool to see my fans step up to the table and donate or we take proceeds from tickets for it. It’s just amazing to be able to help people.
The darkest time of my life was watching loved ones struggle like that. So to be a little bit of a light spot for people going through that has been huge, I don't know. It lifts me and I’m really thankful to help people this way.
Q: Back to the Christmas album. There are like a million Christmas songs out there. How in the world do you pick which ones go on your album?
A: Man. Well because I'm a violinist, it's like, certain melodies sing well on violins and certain ones are like, oh well that has to be done by a singer. So it was really fun which songs made my violin sing the best.
But also for me, if you're going to do a song that's been done hundreds of times and covered by a million different artists if I couldn't think of a way to make it feel special, it didn't make my list. So I had to think about how can I take Joy to the World and put a twist on it, to give somebody a reason to want to listen to my version. Why would anyone want to hear a violin one? Oh, it actually works as a Celtic tune. Oh, that gets me excited.
We did "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in this very steampunky vibe. So it's kind of finding vibes I like and then finding the song that'll fit that vibe and when I start to get excited I’m like, Oh it's a good one. Cause now suddenly there's a reason to listen to it and I'm in competition with a lot of different versions.
Q: Now what about original tracks? How do you make those stand out from other Christmas classics?
A: I feel like that is the big secret everyone has been trying to crack ever since Mariah Carey did "All I Want for Christmas is You." Everybody has been trying to be the new version of that. I feel Kelly Clarkson got kind of close with her "Underneath the Tree" song. I think she might be in there but it's really hard to find a way.
That's the code everyone is trying to crack. I feel every artist takes their shot. I've taken mine twice now. But it's always really fun to write new original Christmas songs because there's just such a wide array of words, sounds, and feelings to draw from. It's like a bucket of words and we just have to pick some of these and write a song around them. So it makes it fun to write Christmas music cause there's just a vibe. You know the vibe you know the recipe, you just have to make it.
Q: How do you find some of the artists that you collaborate with?
A: It's always such a juggling act.
For example, one of the songs on this new album has David Archuleta on it. It's called "Magic" and it's so good. And as we were writing it, I was like, David has to sing this. So also I know him so he's a text away. So sometimes it's very easy because you know the voice, you know the sound and that's always great when that happens.
Other times, I wrote "Crazy for Christmas" with Bonnie McKee, and she sang the demo and I was like, I'm sold, I don’t need anything else.
But other times, it's really hard when you have this great song, but you have to try out a bunch of things and find the right artist that doesn't have a project and it becomes a difficult puzzle to figure out.
Like with Becky G, we got her literally last minute. We could not find anyone to sing the song that could hit those high notes. Then last second we had to turn the album in like a few days later, so she cut a demo and she literally saved the day. Cause sometimes it's tricky to find singers.
But this album was nice because it all just made sense and it came together just seamlessly and naturally.