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Q&A: Freer, happier Lindsey Stirling returns to Artpark with 'DWTS'-bolstered show

by jmaloni
Fri, Aug 3rd 2018 02:30 pm
Lindsey Stirling returns with new dance moves, courtesy of Mark Ballas and `Dancing with the Stars.` (ABC photo by Eric McCandless)
Lindsey Stirling returns with new dance moves, courtesy of Mark Ballas and "Dancing with the Stars." (ABC photo by Eric McCandless)
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Violinist performs Thursday
Preview by @JoshuaMaloni
Managing Editor
Seemingly, Lindsey Stirling went from being the only pirate at the party to a pop-culture princess right before our eyes on last fall's "Dancing with the Stars."
Deep down on the inside, however, she says she's still the same Lindsey - albeit more confident, and with a new and improved stage show that she will bring to Artpark on Thursday.
After a premature exit on "America's Got Talent" in 2010, Stirling went on to break the internet "Wreck-It Ralph" style. Her imaginative videos would rack up millions of views while her albums became RIAA-certified smashes.
Already hugely popular on the internet (2.3 billion total YouTube views and counting), Stirling added "mainstream star" to her resume after she and Mark Ballas finished second on "DWTS."
Accordingly, it's a safe bet Stirling will have more than a few new fans in attendance for her Artpark Mainstage Theater performance.
Stirling last performed in Lewiston in 2015. Returning ticketholders know they'll be treated to a world-class violin performance. This time, however, Stirling's set will be more refined. As seen on television, a great performer has become a master dancer. And like a skilled swordsman, Stirling will use her instrument to shape her imaginative stage storytelling, which includes electronic dance music, and bigger, bolder sets.
Calling from Maine - and fresh from trying her first lobster roll - Stirling said, "I'm excited to come back. It's been a super fun tour and I'm loving these shows this summer."
Following "DWTS," Stirling hit the road for a holiday tour. She's been traveling recently with Evanescence, but will perform solo at Artpark.
"I'm getting to travel the states. I'm getting to travel the world. And I decided that I want to try to partake of the places I go to," Stirling said. "People are great. The tour's been amazing. It's probably the most fun I've had on tour in a minute, which is great."
More of our Q&A follows.
Lindsey Stirling will return to Lewiston. (Photo provided by Artpark & Company)
Lindsey Stirling at Artpark in 2015.
Q: So, Lindsey, when we've spoken in the past, you've always prided yourself on having a high-quality live show. It's been three years since you performed here. What can you tell me about your live show in 2018, and what can we expect to see from you on stage this time around?
Lindsey Stirling: I love putting together live shows. I love planning the tours. I love putting on the shows. I think that's the reason I was always drawn to music so much is because I wanted to put on a show. From the time I was a kid, I was, like, making plays with the neighborhood kids and convincing them to be in the play that I'd written. You know, I've just always been that way.
And so, this tour has been amazing, because it's definitely the biggest production I've ever had - which is awesome; so many toys to play with. But on top of that, I just feel like my performance level has really come to a new level, even in the last year, thankfully, partially, to "Dancing with the Stars." I mean, I've never actually had dance training in my life until that show. And so, to get to spend three months, six hours a day, working on dance was huge for me. And I think it's given me a lot more confidence as a dancer and as a performer, and just a lot more skills to draw from.
So, I think the dancing and the performance level on this tour is the best it's ever been. And just every way I've absolutely loved putting on this show.
And I think, even on a personal note, like I went through a really tough two-and-a-half years, with experiencing a lot of loss. My keyboard player - my best friend - passed away; my father passed away; and kind of going through all of that, while still, you know, writing music and doing shows, I didn't realize what a toll that took on me.
And so finally, now, I'm in a good place with all of that, and it's like I just feel freer on stage. It's the first time in probably two-and-a-half years that I can genuinely say I feel like myself again, on the stage. And I'm not putting on a face. I'm not just smiling through everything else. This is genuine - it's real - and that's made this just all the more special.
Q: It's interesting that you say that - and I'm sorry for your losses; I've read about them, certainly, and how you've been dealing with that. But I want to ask you about "Dancing with the Stars" and how its impacted you professionally - and I guess as a person, as well - because if we look at the person sitting on the bench in your self-titled album, I mean, it certainly was a different person, I think, than what we saw on TV. I'm wondering, how does the independent part of Lindsey get along with this new pop-culture Lindsey? How do all of these elements sort of mesh together?
Lindsey Stirling: Oh, man. Well, first of all, I loved - absolutely loved - the experience on "Dancing with the Stars." And I really think, I don't know, it made me grow so much as a person. To kind of put yourself (laughs) in such a vulnerable situation as to go on national television doing something on a weekly basis that you're not that great at, which is ballroom dancing, it's so different from anything else that I've ever done.
And you take all these people that are so competent in their own field - me with violin, some people with basketball, whatever - and then you throw them in, like, ballroom heels. And, you know, you have to go out and perform in front of millions of people at something that you're not perfect in. And that's extremely humbling; it's terrifying. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, the amount of physicality and the amount of emotional stress.
But at the same time, I loved it. And it kind of made me rediscover, almost in a weird way, a side of myself that, I don't know, I forgot was there. Like this extra little inner strength that I forgot that I had. Because, you know, that girl that sat on the bench, I almost felt like I went back to that, in a way. When I took that picture, when I made that album, nobody knew that I can do it. No one really believed that I could do it, or even had any clue of what I was doing.
Now I have a team around me, that helps me, you know, if I say I want to go on tour, we make it happen. I have a ginormous team that helps my dreams become reality. I have fans all over the world that support me and tell me they love me. But "Dancing with the Stars" took me back to that girl on the bench that was like, "I'm not sure if I can do this." I suddenly don't have all the evidence around me to prove that it worked in the past, and that it will work again. Like, no, I'm in ballroom heels, and I'm terrified to go out there. And I had to dig deep into myself and say, "I can do this. And I can do this well."
And no matter how many times I've fallen down and proven that maybe I can't do it, I'm going to get up again. (Laughs) And I'm going to try it. And I'm going to do it till I get it. And for that kind of grit that you have to dig deep, even though you necessarily don't know if you can do it - but you have to know that you can do it in order to get there - that was a side of me that I had to draw from again. And it was kind of cool to find that side of myself again. That same girl, like you said, that was sitting on the park bench that believed in herself, even though the odds were against me.
Q: You were fantastic on "Dancing with the Stars." You should have won, in my estimation. But you did great job. And, like you said, one of the rewards of that is you got the training; you've got a new element that you can bring to your tour. But at the same time, there's also something else that comes with being on a show like "Dancing with the Stars," and that's fame. You've always been a musician, you've always had a just a ginormous, ginormous, online following. You've always had dedicated fans. But now, since being on "Dancing with the Stars," you're a celebrity. You are a mainstream household name now. And I'm wondering what that's been like for you.
Lindsey Stirling: I guess I still, this may sound fake, but I still get flattered and surprised when people stop me and say, "Oh, Lindsey, we love you!" I'm like, "Oh, really? Thank you!" It's very flattering and, for the most part, people are so sweet and complimentary when they stop and talk to me. It's never gotten to a point where I'm like, "Oh, God, I'm getting stopped all the time; people won't leave me alone in public." (Laughs)
If anything, I feel like I'm at the perfect spot, where I don't get stopped all the time, but whenever I do it's very flattering and it's sweet.
I mean, I wouldn't even say I'm a household name. I still feel like I kind of live in this little corner of the internet, that just a lot of people have found.
Q: You did a holiday tour right after "Dancing with the Stars." I'm sure you found that you had maybe a different type of fan; maybe new people were coming out to see you that hadn't seen you before. Was that exciting? And what can you tell me about your new fans that you've made?
Lindsey Stirling: I will say I did notice, especially over the years, my fans have actually changed dramatically, which is very interesting. When I first started doing shows, it was pretty much like 90 percent men, or guys, and they were all gamer fans. And through the years, it's just kind of slowly evened out - like 50-50 men/women.
And I think my favorite thing about my fanbase is it's so diverse. At the shows, you've got families coming. You have your teenage girls that are excited. You've got your little kids. You've got your older couples. I mean, it's all across the board. I just love that. I love that I look at the audience and see so many different kinds of people enjoying it and having fun and, you know, you're like, "Where else would these people all end up in the same room together?" I don't know!
I love that about my fans. But it has become incredibly diverse, and I think it is because "Dancing with the Stars" took that to a whole new level and did bring a little bit more of maybe mainstream is a good word for our crowd now. But it's exciting. It's exciting that one style of music can reach so many different people.
Q: I want to ask you about something else that's very unique about you and about your live show, and that is your fan meet-and-greets. I talk to a lot of musicians and some do them and some don't, but yours seem to really kick it up a couple of notches. You've got a marketplace; you've got swag; you've got songs; you've got a photo op - and I understand that sometimes there's even snacks and cereal involved, as well. What can you tell me about your very unique meet-and-greets with your fans?
Lindsey Stirling: I've always done meet-and-greets. I'll try to always do them. I actually really enjoy that time. You know, take pictures with certain people, and then we go do this little party, where me and the band go in and we kind of play a game with the fans and we answer questions. It's really a special moment - and I even share this with them a lot of times, of what it means to me to get to be up close and personal and have kind of a moment with them before I'm about to go out and perform in front of kind of a sea of people. It just reminds me how special it is, because I can look in their eyes and I can see their smiles, and I can interact with them.
It almost makes me more nervous for the show, because it reminds me, like, "Oh, people are really excited about this." You know, "This family right here in front, they bought their tickets months ago. ... This girl over here flew from Argentina for the show." You know, so, if anything, in a way, it makes me a little more nervous. But at the same time, it just reminds me this is a really special experience for some people - the same way like when I go to a show I'm really excited.
And it just reminds me of what I'm doing, why I do it, and so that's one of the reasons that the meet-and-greet is special to me. It's not only special to my fans, but it's a great reminder to me of what's important at the show.
I just want people to have a great time. If anybody comes to my show, I want them to leave feeling like they got well over their money's worth. And if anyone comes to my meet-and-greet, I don't want them to leave being like, "Well, that was expensive for a picture." No; I want them to have an experience and be able to walk away feeling like they got more than they wanted, and more than they bargained for.
Q: And do you find that people do well with the Lindsey trivia?
Lindsey Stirling: Yeah; they do pretty good, actually. Most of the time they are right. My fans know me pretty well!
Lindsey Stirling performs Thursday, Aug. 9, at Artpark. It's 7 p.m. doors for the 8 p.m. Funtime show. Tickets are on sale now at the box office, 450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston; and online at https://www.artpark.net/events/lindsey-stirling.
For more information on Lindsey, visit https://lindseystirling.com/.

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