Moment House special airs Sept. 23-24; Stirling to perform Dec. 11 at Shea’s in fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House
By Joshua Maloni
Lindsey Stirling is the Simone Biles of giving.
The performer, who has more music video views than McDonald’s has customers, is a gold-medal do-gooder. Her list of charitable endeavors is higher than a double-twisting, double-backflip dismount.
At present, the violinist, dancer, singer, actress and author is promoting The Upside Fund, an initiative to aid fellow creative types adversely impacted by the pandemic. On her website, Stirling wrote, “I realize that had this happened years ago when I was a beginning artist, it could have been the end of my career. Realizing that there are many who are at risk of losing all they have, I want to reach out to you, my fans, and help where I can. Timing is everything and right now I’m in a place where I can give back. … The way we will beat this is if we all turn to our own communities and lift where we stand. I love you all.”
This weekend, the “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars” collaborator is teaming with Moment House to present “The Artemis Tour: Worldwide Digital Experience.” Realizing many of her fans couldn’t attend a live performance – be it for health or travel reasons – Stirling wanted to share the stage with her Stirlingites in the comfort of their own living rooms.
Moment House, a digital live platform, is the brainchild of music industry heavyweight Jimmy Iovine and the Dr. Dre Academy for Innovation at USC. Tickets are available here.
Stirling will return to Buffalo for a Dec. 11 concert at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The holiday performance will raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo.
Three years ago, Stirling not only headlined the annual RMH event, but stopped by the residence to spend time with children and families.
“I am really excited to come back to Ronald McDonald House,” she said in an interview last week.
Fans can expect a steady stream of hit songs – plus new music from “Artemis,” a musical collection Stirling turned into a comic book series – at the festive show.
She chatted about returning to the road – and meeting fans in a world of masking and social distancing – plus why it means so much to give back, particularly at Christmastime. An edited Q&A follows.
“The Artemis Tour: Worldwide Digital Experience” in partnership with Moment House (Photo credit: Richard Knowles/courtesy of BB Gun Press)
Q: I’m excited about the event you’re doing with Moment House, which is super legit and prestigious as far as the musicians it’s been working with. But also, I just found out you're coming back to Buffalo to do another gig for the Ronald McDonald House, which is awesome.
I want to ask you, first of all, what was it like to be back out in front of fans? I mean, obviously, your show is so unique – and fans are such an important part of that. To not have that last year, what was it like to be able to get back out there and to see them, and to get those reactions that you were missing?
Lindsey Stirling: Oh, man, I can't even tell you; it felt so special. You know, after the first concert that we did back, I remember we all were crying – like everybody, from my tour managers and my dancers; it was just such a special feeling. And it felt like such a gift to be able to go out and do what we love. And to see smiles – that's probably my favorite thing I noticed more than ever before, this tour, was just how much I appreciated the smiles that I would see from my audience; and the giggles; and the surprise expressions. Just seeing those expressions live – it's like we give so much energy on that stage, but we get so much energy back from the audience. And, you know, all these feelings that I just realized, “Wow, I'd forgotten how strong this felt.”
It was really a magical tour.
Q: And it's been great to see fans back at concerts but, of course, not everyone is comfortable or ready to go back out into that kind of an environment. I think it's so cool that you put together this digital experience, so that people who couldn't go out and see you live still have an opportunity to see you on stage, and see what you were doing when you were out on tour.
Tell me a little bit about how this came about, and what excited you about this opportunity?
Lindsey Stirling: Well, I mean, pretty much exactly what you said: It was just there are so many fans that I've seen message me or reach out – like we still haven't been able to go back to South America; who knows if we’ll actually make it to some of the countries we're hoping to get to go to next year. It's just everything is so up in the air.
And so yeah, for all those people that either didn't feel safe, or that we weren't able to get to, I wanted to have this show filmed.
Also, just for myself. I loved this show, and it's so sad when you work so hard on something, and then you hit that last show, and you're like, “Wow; never again.” Like, “We'll never do that show again.” And now it's almost like “Did it happen?” So, it was really cool to not only capture it for fans, but also just for my whole crew who worked so hard on it.
Lindsey Stirling (Photo credit: Paul Hebert)
Q: So many things have happened with “Artemis” – and of course, this is another one of those things. But you have a comic book now. How cool is it to be in a comic book? And how does that even come into being? How does one get approached to be in a comic book? What is the process like, and what did you enjoy about that?
Lindsey Stirling: Well, I mean, I actually kind of created the opportunity. I thought for a while it would be really fun to do a comic book, just because I love storytelling so much. And then on top of that, it's great that there's like kind of no limit to your creativity based on budget. You know, you’re not like, “Oh, I can't afford to make it in space, because production value.” But it's literally like, “Oh, sky's the limit.”
And so, I'd always wanted to make a comic book. And then when I decided to call my album “Artemis,” I just really fell in love with the goddess Artemis. And I almost started to just create this story in my mind. And then I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is my comic book! This is it.” This story about a world where it's losing light, and the goddess of the moon is fighting to try to keep her light alive. And Nyx, the goddess of the night, is trying to take over.
It just was such a natural story, and it was a really fun one to not only write, but then to bring it to life through music. And then even furthermore, to bring it to life in the show, it was really prevalent in the show.
Q: You know, when I look at all the things you have accomplished thus far in your career, I would think that you – more than probably 90% of musicians out there – have probably an incredibly diverse audience. It’s sort of cliche when they say, “There's something for everyone.” But there's so many different things that you do and you're a part of, I have to imagine that your audience is just super-widespread and super-diverse. What is that like to have people from every walk of life, from every sort of interest and background, come out and support you night in and night out?
Lindsey Stirling: Oh, I love it. I absolutely love that I can look out at my audience – and even at my meet-and-greet. It's funny because now, the way they did it for COVID, they’d come around a corner so I could never see, a lot of times, who was next. And I was like, it could be anyone from an 80-year-old couple to an excited group of teenagers, to a family with a little, tiny, excited daughter who’s like 5 years old.
It was just so fun. And I love that – that I can look out into my audience and see all sorts of different people with different tastes, dressed in different ways. And I just think it's fun. There is – kind of like you said – there's something for everybody. And I don't know what else would bring this same group of people together, but it's awesome.
Q: It's funny that you mentioned your meet-and-greets. We've been fortunate to have you in concert many times in the past couple years, and I know your meet-and-greets are legendary. But again, with COVID, I'm not quite sure how that would have worked. Did they put you like in a protective bubble? Or what was the vibe?
Lindsey Stirling: (Laughs) You know, we thought of all different ways to do it. And it ended up there was a piece of Plexiglas in between me and the fan. I'm actually pretty proud of what we created, because you can’t tell in the picture. We had it look like we were inside the comic book. We each had our own panel, but there's like artwork around us, so you can't see that there's a piece of Plexiglas – because that just would look super-lame. And so, I was pretty proud of the design, and it also made the pictures way cuter than any other meet-and-greets that we've had in the past, because it felt themed, and people could pose if they wanted. And then I gave like a motivational speech before they left, to all the meet-and-greeters.
So, it kind of made us think, “Well, how can we make this special in spite of the situation?” And I think it kind of made it different and more special than it's ever been.
Lindsey Stirling, and Santa, stopped by the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo in 2018. (File photo)
Q: As I mentioned, you are coming back to Buffalo to perform at Shea’s in the holiday season, to again raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House. I was fortunate enough, the last time you were in town to do that, to be at the house when you came and you spent time with the children – and it made their year, let me tell you. I don't expect you necessarily to remember that particular event. I know you have many events. …
Lindsey Stirling: Actually, I do remember it. I remember really specifically, and I remember going in the house, and there was a family there and a couple other kids. I think I played them a song.
Q: You did. You played with them, and you allowed them to play their instruments with you, which I thought was really cool. Did that make you want to come back and do it again?
Why is it important to you to give back – especially to kids in a situation like that? And at the holidays. Why is that an important thing for you to do?
Lindsey Stirling: Oh my gosh, I mean, I don't think there's anything more special you can do at the holidays. And I feel that way, probably more specifically, because I spent Christmas, actually Christmas Day, with my dad in the hospital; and leading up to Christmas, in the hospital with him. And you know, my whole family was in and out while he was on the tail end of cancer. It was such a hard, hard thing. And it was just so painful to feel so, like, hopeless at that time, when everybody else seemed to be feeling hope.
And so, something really important to me, every year I try to do several things for people who are going through medical crises; because I also feel like there's angels in those places with these people, giving them extra love and support. And so, if I can just be there to help a little bit as well, then it's something that I will always make time to do.
Q: You seem like the nicest person – and you're in such an insane, cutthroat industry. How do these things coexist? How do you remain such a down-to-earth, giving individual when you know, between entertainment, Hollywood, the music industry – the whole thing – it's just ridiculously crazy. How do you stay true to yourself through all of that?
Lindsey Stirling: You know, I've surrounded myself with really great people. And I honestly think that's what's kept me being (me). I mean, it's very easy to look around you and start to feel like whatever's around you is, quote-unquote, “what should be normal.” And who's to say what normal is and normal isn't? But you will become normal with what's around you.
And so, I am so grateful that I have a team around me made up of just down-to-earth, kind people, who put people first – from my managers – you know, that's why I went with the management company I did, was not because they seemed like they could get everything done. No, they seem like really great managers. But also, I just felt like they were so kind. And my tour staff – I have the most wonderful people that I tour with. And I spend so much time around them, they would let me know – they would not let me become a diva, if I tried, you know what I mean? (Laughs)
And so, I think that's really what it comes down to, for me, is just surrounding myself with good people that constantly remind me that that's what is “normal,” quote-unquote, for my life. And that's what I want to stay normal.
Q: I think this is the sixth time I've interviewed you – you've been nice enough to say “Yes” six times. I think if I get to 12, I get a T-shirt. Is that right?
Lindsey Stirling: Yes; yes, we have a T-shirt. Actually, it's already designed with your name on it.
Lindsey Stirling brings "Artemis" to the masses this weekend, and will return to Buffalo in December. (Photo credit: Sydney Takeshta)