We Interview YouTube Music Video Sensation Lindsey Stirling (Sheís More Popular Than Taylor Swift)
Published: September 7, 2012 by Garnet Henderson
Why is it that the winners from TV talent shows seem to flop in real life, while the runners-up make it big? Does anyone really remember Ruben Studdard? No. But we still talk about Clay Aiken, even if he hasnít released an album in years.
Next in line for reality show runner-up stardom is Lindsey Stirling, the dancing violinist who made it onto Americaís Got Talent as a finalist in 2010. She was eliminated, but she sure showed them. Lindsey has made herself into a YouTube music video star, with over 117 million views. Thatís more than Taylor Swift.
Lindsey is known for backbending, kicking, hopping, moonwalking, and more, all while playing her violin. She also creates detailed and elaborate costumes for herself. Lindsey performs everything from medleys of popular songs, to themes from games like The Legend of Zelda, to her own electronic violin dubstep style.
We had the chance to talk with Lindsey about her rise to YouTube stardom. Keep reading to see what she has to say about Americaís Got Talent and more.
Crushable: How did you get started playing the violin?
Lindsey Stirling: When I was just a little kid, my parents used to take me and my sister to all these orchestra concerts around town. We lived in downtown L.A., and that was a good family activity. So they would take us to all these free orchestra concerts. Neither of my parents played musical instruments at all, but they love music, and so they would always have classical records playing in our house. So just through that exposure to music, and classical music, and seeing violins at the concerts I just started begging for lessons at about five years old. They gave me lessons finally when I turned six.
When did you have the idea to start incorporating dance into your videos?
Itís not something thatís natural for me at all. Itís not that Iíve just always been able to dance and play. The violin is veryÖ youíre supposed to have a specific posture and be very poised. I finally realized that I didnít want to just impress people when I performed, because I did a lot of performing for talent competitions and whatnot, and recitals. And I got sick of just impressing. I wanted to perform, I wanted to entertain. And thatís what I found was my true love. I started to try to engage with my audience by kind of jumping around the stage as I played, and then that slowly evolved from stomping my foot into being able to moonwalk and do backbends, and leg extensions. I just slowly built it move by move.
Do you have dance training?
I donít. I actually learned to dance by watching YouTube videos. Like when I want to learn a new move, I look up ďmoonwalk tutorialsĒ or just watch So You Think You Can Dance. I watch their movements until I find one that I can do. One thatís not too skillful.
What was it like to be on Americaís Got Talent?
It was a good experience for me. It taught me a ton, just about the entertainment industry. It was a very nice way to be immediately submerged into it, from being this girl that plays in her living room to being on national TV. Itís definitely a steep learning curve, and I got thrown right into it. So in that regard, it was a very good experience, and I met some really inspiring people that helped me realize that itís okay to jump for your dreams. Thatís a really awesome thing to do, and I donít need to be afraid of failing because if I donít try Iíll never know. I met some of the weirdest people Iíve ever met in my life, but I also met some of the most inspiring people. You get the whole spectrum when youíre thrown into that kind of environment. You wonder, am I one of the crazies or the cools? I donít know, but Iím going to soak in this experience. And technically, weíre all probably a little bit of everything.
Getting kicked off the show was a little hard. It was my first huge, ultimate rejection in front of millions of people. But I feel like it was that make or break thing. They told me I wasnít good enough, that I would never make it as a soloist, and I kind of wondered if I should believe them. It was really hard to get over that and get on stage again. But I was like, you know what, Iím going to prove them wrong. Iím going to do this. So it gave me a little extra oomph to work really, really hard.
How did you get into using YouTube?
YouTube started when I met Devin Graham. Heís a filmmaker, and he has a YouTube channel called devinsupertramp. Heís a cinematographer who loves to feature cool talents. Thatís all his channel is. Itís featuring cool activities or interesting talents, and he contacted me and asked if he could do a music video for me for free. So as a musician, of course! I looked at his stuff, and heís very talented, so I said of course you can make a great music video for me. And he threw it on his YouTube channel, and he had already grown his audience on there. This music that I had put on iTunes right after Americaís Got Talent hadnít really sold for months. And then as soon as we put this video together, my music started to sell and people started to say how much they love it, or that they enjoyed my performing. I thought, thereís something to this whole YouTube thing. So I decided to start pursuing my own channel, and this is where itís led me.
A Mexican gymnast used one of your arrangements for her floor routine in the London Olympics. What was it like to see that?
Yeah, that was crazy! I was getting all these tweets and Facebook posts, saying that my music was being used on the Olympics. I kept thinking that they must be mistaken, that must not be my song, and then I pulled it up and realized that it was definitely me playing during her routine. I thought it was awesome. It just made me really excited.
How do you choose the songs that you play?
Well, my favorites to do are definitely my original pieces. But whenever it comes to covers, I like to kind of team up with my audience. Because they are my support, they are the ones that share my videos, and buy my music, and come to my shows. And because Iím an artist without a record label, thereís no record label telling me what I can and canít do, or what I should do. Itís like my audience is my label, and so when theyíre requesting a song a lot, Iíll listen to the song. And if I like it, of course Iíll do it. Theyíre my biggest supporters, and thatís what they want. Thatís what they love. If itís something that I can enjoy playing, or even if itís just ok to me, Iíll make sure I play it or write it in a way that is wonderful for me to play, and that I love.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I love apples. I almost always eat an apple before I go on stage. I donít eat big meals, because I love eating huge meals after I perform. Like a reward. Either that, or a chocolate milkshake. I canít eat a big meal before I go on stage, so I eat an apple and then after that I reward myself.
Whatís next for you?
Itís kind of crazy, Iím all over the place! Iím finishing up my album right now, and itíll be released on September 18. From now until then, I have rehearsals and performances. But on September 22, my tour starts. Iíll be touring across the U.S., hitting up 22 cities. All the way from New York City to San Francisco. Iím really excited about that. Itís my first headlining tour, and Iíve got a band and everything.