Dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling is pulling out all the stops for her “The Wanderland Tour,” set to play Monday at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.
“I loved our last Christmas show, but I think we’ve even stepped it up even more this tour,” Stirling said in a recent phone interview.
Stirling recently took some time while just outside of Los Angeles on her way to a rehearsal to talk about the tour, her new deluxe holiday album and a Christmas-themed play she is currently writing.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
SARAH HARRIS: What are some of your feelings about performing in Utah?
LINDSEY STIRLING: Oh, the Utah shows are always really special because I consider Utah as one of my homes. I lived there for so many years when I was going to college, and then after I went to college, that’s where I started my career in music. I made my first album out of Utah. All my first videos were filmed up Provo Canyon, and I owe a lot to Utah because of that and its gorgeous scenery, so I’m excited to perform there.
SH: I wondered if you could tell me a little bit about this year’s “Wanderland Tour” and what’s unique about it?
LS: We have more dancers, we have new choreography, the costumes are so good, and in the show there’s everything from ballroom dancing to toy ballet to more of, like, your lyrical and hip-hop. So there’s all different styles that are represented not only musically in the show but also visually, and I don’t know, it’s such a great show. I mean, I’m totally biased, obviously, but I think people are going to love it.
SH: How does a Christmas tour compare to a regular tour for you?
LS: You know, the Christmas tour is definitely a very different feel than my regular tours, and the obvious reason is we play almost all Christmas music. But also, I feel like Christmas gives you the permission to kind of take the show in a little wider direction. For example, we get to be a little more silly and … border on being kind of fun and cheesy, you know. But then at the same time, it allows you to not only go to that funny, fun side more, but it allows you to go a little farther in the heartfelt and spiritual and really deep, meaningful stuff. And so the show has quite a journey through it that takes you from both sides of the spectrum of Christmas, and I think that’s why people loved it so much last year because they laughed, they feel joyous, but also, people were brought to tears at moments.
SH: This year, you also added five new songs to your “Warmer in the Winter” album, so I wanted to ask what went into the selection of those songs and why you decided to add them to the album?
LS: I feel like it’s really hard to call an album done. Basically, it’s a deadline that makes you finish an album, and you’re like, “Ah, it’s never done,” but I was like, “Well, luckily for me, Christmas comes around every year.” So some of the songs that I had worked on, but I just didn’t feel like were quite there yet or I hadn’t quite gotten them right, I still loved those songs. And so I worked on them the beginning of this year until they were right, and then, you know, “Well, heck, let’s do a deluxe edition and throw these on there.”
SH: As for those particular songs, why did you choose those and do they have a special meaning to you?
LS: I think my favorite one of the new songs on the deluxe album — it actually became my favorite song on the album — is “I Wonder As I Wander.” … It’s this old Celtic song and it’s got this haunting melody, and I love haunting melodies. I think they sing so well on the violin. And so it was really fun to get to make a song that’s old and Celtic, and usually it’s very sparse, and I was able to kind of flip it on its head and do it in this big, electronic way. That song has never been done like that before.
SH: This year, you also toured with Evanescence, so I wondered if you could talk about that and what the experience was like for you?
LS: Yes, we did tour with Evanescence this summer, and that tour was so much fun. I mean, it’s really hard to put together a true co-headline tour, and for so many reasons. One, it’s hard to find artists that both can tour with the same type of audience. It’s hard for the artists to be able to both plan their shows that are authentic to them and make it work for everybody being happy. And then also, sometimes, groups of people just are so set in their ways and they don’t necessarily get along on the road, not that they fight, but this was such a special tour because I feel like the match was so well done artistically. The fans cross over really well and loved each other, but also, we got along so well. We would have barbecues backstage after the shows really often, we would play Cornhole almost every night, the two bands and the crews would all hang out. We all became really good friends, and for me, that was such a dream come true because I’ve loved Amy Lee since I was a teenager and Evanescence, and getting to perform live with her, like we played on each other’s sets, like, “What?” That was so cool.
SH: I’m reporting from Utah County, so I wondered if you have any thoughts about how your experience at BYU and in Provo has affected you and your career?
LS: Gosh, my experience in Provo definitely affected my career because I went to film school at BYU and studied film for like a year and half. And it was in Provo that I worked with some of my friends to make some of my first music videos, guys that I had been in the film program with. On top of that, I worked with a producer out of Provo, who helped me find my sound and helped me create my first album. I’ve filmed in the beautiful locations of Provo and everybody was like, “Whoa, where is this girl filming? How much is she paying for these videos and these locations?” And I’m like, “Literally, I’m getting them for free. They’re up Provo Canyon.” So I owe a lot to Utah.
SH: I also wanted talk about the role that YouTube has played in your career in this new generation of people being able to gain attention through the internet and YouTube. What role has YouTube played in your career?
LS: YouTube has been so influential in my career. I mean, it’s made it possible for me to share my music in a way which is broadcasting across the world. Never would I have been able to do that before. And I also love that YouTube allows you to showcase your music without having someone to believe in you. No one would believe in me. No one caught the vision of what I was trying to do. And so through YouTube, I was like, “Well, I’m just going to do it anyway and just show it,” and that was only possible through a platform like YouTube.
SH: What goes into creating a piece for you and how are you able to bring the song and the dance elements together?
LS: When I’m writing music, a lot of times there’s different ways to write a song and it’s like there’s different things to focus on. And a lot of times when I’m writing music, I’m kind of in the back of my mind thinking, “How would this be live? How would this be in a music video?” and I’m creating the sound. My music isn’t meant for a small acoustic performance. It can be played that way, but it’s meant for movement in a live show. That’s kind of what I want it to become in its different stages of being written, and so in writing, that’s kind of one of my focuses. But also, I work with choreographers to create the dance moves and make it work with the violin, so it seems like one thing.
SH: Moving forward, what are some of your plans and goals for the future?
LS: I’m actually working on a play. I’m really excited about that, excited to write it and develop all the characters. I have the story, like, halfway done, and I’ve always wanted to write a Broadway musical.
SH: Could you tell me more about what it’s about?
LS: Not yet. I can’t give away what it’s about, but it is a Christmas-themed play, actually, so it’s right in line with where my head’s been at for the last few years with Christmas.
SH: Right, so you’re just working on the writing process right now?
SH: Is there a specific message that you’d like to share through your music?
LS: I like to share a message of hope, for sure. I think a lot of my songs are kind of filled with this longing for hope and relying on hope and even light. I think that there is light and darkness that exists around us all the time, and I think light provides such a beautiful metaphor because if there was ever a competition between light and dark, light will always win. Dark is present, but dark only exists in the absence of light, and so I think that’s a really amazing concept, that I think all of us have darkness within us and pessimism and negativity, and it will always be there, but if we choose positivity, positivity is more of a choice, and having hope is a little bit more of a choice. It takes action, it takes work, but it will always win if we choose it and if we focus on it. And so I think that’s kind of the metaphor that I like to share through the music and the mood it creates that I write and also even through my shows.