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Lindsey Stirling talks Christmas spirit before Clearwater holiday show

The superstar EDM-pop violinist brings her third annual holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Dec. 20.

Lindsey Stirling has concerts booked all the way up to Dec. 23. That makes it a little hard to get fully into the holiday spirit — shopping, wrapping, caroling, all that.

“Being that this is my third Christmas tour, I’ve started to try to make Christmas happen on the road,” the electropop violinist said by phone recently. “I sent all the girls on tour on a scavenger hunt the other day to find matching Christmas pajamas, and we’re going to do something similar for the guys, for fun Christmas slippers. We’re doing Secret Santa, we decorate cookies, we’re going to go to a nursing home in the next few stops. We like to try to do the kind of things that I did as a kid to make it Christmassy.”

Stirling is all about making things memorable — but then, once you see her live, it’s hard to forget it. The Arizona native and Brigham Young University graduate broke through early in the decade on YouTube and America’s Got Talent with her unique blend of EDM — electronic dance music — and classical pop, all performed while dancing in elaborate costumes.

“I’ve always felt like the red-headed stepchild of EDM,” she said. “I always had to fight really hard to get my music in the EDM category on iTunes, which was funny. They kept dumping it to classical, and I said, Let’s send an email, put it back in the EDM category. If I wasn’t watching it, it would get bumped to classical.”

Today, Stirling has become such a live phenomenon that she can now tour arenas and amphitheaters with pop acts like Evanescence. (She’s planning one for 2020 with an as-yet-unnamed artist, in support of her recent concept album Artemis.) Some of her holiday shows are also in arenas, but on Dec. 20, she’ll be back in a theater, performing holiday hits at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Stirling called from a tour stop in Milwaukee to talk about holiday traditions, Imagine Dragons and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Lindsey Stirling will bring her holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 20.
Lindsey Stirling will bring her holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 20. [ Cara Robbins ]

Do you shop on the road, or is it online only?

I’ve had to resort to online shopping, dang it.

Where will you go after the tour? How will you celebrate after the final show?

I’m going to go home to Arizona with my mom. I’ll get home just in time for Christmas Eve, and we’ll make the best of it.

Set the scene for me.

I have three sisters and one brother, so a pretty big family. I’ve got nephews and nieces, and they’re absolutely adorable. We’re big breakfast people, so we’ll make a huge breakfast that usually happens around lunchtime on Christmas. We like to do Christmas crafts every year. In the past, we’ve gone caroling.

Do you take your violin caroling?

No, I just sing. We learn the harmonies. Something my parents taught us when we were little was how to harmonize, so we show up and all know our parts.

This is the Warmer in the Winter Tour, and that was the name of your Christmas album. It’s interesting, because that’s kind of an atypical song for you — it’s this beautiful, old-fashioned swing number, but you also put your voice front and center, which you don’t often do. Why?

I sung the demo. A lot of the time, I find someone else to sing my demos, because I don’t call myself a singer. But we were getting closer and closer to the album release, and we had a couple of people sing demos for us, and I felt mine always fit it the best. I was on tour in South America when the album had to be finished, and so I think in Chile, I went into the studio, recorded it, sent it in, didn’t love it and recorded it one more time in Argentina. I recorded that thing all over South America and pieced together what became the title track of the album. It was never meant to be, This is the song of the album, and it’s me singing! Me! It was more like, Oh my god, I’m going to sing this thing, and, oh no, now I have to sing it live every night. Oh, shoot.

Did you ever see Trans-Siberian Orchestra live? They’re such a unique entity, but if any artist could replicate what they do, it would be you. Have you thought about going full arena spectacular for your Christmas tour — lasers, lights, pyro, all of that stuff?

I saw them a few years ago. But I did listen to their music. I remember being like, Whoa, they go hard on Christmas in a really unique and fun way. ... Of course, I would love to fill arenas. If I could do that every night, I would. I remember Trans-Siberian Orchestra as so epic and metal and heavy. We are definitely a little more dainty, whimsical in certain senses, and then other times we step into that really heavy space.

It’s funny that one of your most-played songs on Spotify is still your cover of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. Did you know those guys at BYU? You must have been in Provo at the same time.

Yes, we used to play gigs together. I was playing in this band at the time called the Vibrant Sound, and we would open up for them at all these different little shows in Salt Lake or Provo. I still run into them every once in a while, at festivals or events or the Billboard Awards. It’s just crazy, where we started, and where we are now. I was playing with them in 200-seat clubs.


$48.25 and up. 8 p.m. Dec. 20. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.