When rules break, magic happens. Lindsey Stirling harnesses magic and meaning in her music. A penchant for smashing boundaries and defying expectations affirms her position as a true iconoclast.
On her fifth full-length album Artemis [BMG], the platinum-selling electronic violinist, dancer, artist, and author once again conjures the spirit of innovation that initially distinguished her back in 2010. However, she approaches this latest chapter with perspective and wisdom accrued from her historic decade-long journey.
“When I first started writing music, I was burned out on playing classical the way it had been played for hundreds of years,” she admits. “I loved violin, so I wasn’t going to quit. I figured out how to make the violin fit me rather than make myself fit the violin. I loved dubstep, electronic dance music, rock, and movie scores. I experimented by melding them into my own style. There was something magical about it, because I didn’t follow any rules. Since then, I’ve certainly learned the rules. But for Artemis, I decided to give myself permission to break them like I would have at the beginning of my career.”
She has certainly earned the right to do so.
Lindsey’s gold-selling, self-titled 2012 debut ignited her quiet rise to the forefront of pop culture. Along the way, she landed a pair of Top 5 albums on the Billboard Top 200, the gold-certified Shatter Me and Brave Enough . Both titles also took home honors for Top Dance/Electronic Album at the Billboard Music Awards. Her singles “Crystallize” and “Shatter Me” [feat. LZZY HALE] went platinum and went gold respectively. Amassing 2 billion-plus views and over 11 million subscribers, Lindsey emerged as the “highest-ranked female” on Forbes 2015 YouTube Artist List, claiming the #4 spot. Her headlining tours regularly sell out around the globe.
Evolving yet again, she penned The Only Pirate at the Party (co-authored with her sister Brook S. Passey) and bubbled up on the New York Times bestseller list. The multi-hyphenate was also runner-up on the 25th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Stirling’s first holiday collection, Warmer in the Winter, closed out 2017 as the best-selling holiday album of the year and generated 40 million Pandora streams. In addition, single “Carol of the Bells” is still the only instrumental song to ever reach the Top 10 at AC Radio.
At the start of 2019, she hit her stride in the creation of Artemis. This time around, she wanted “to tell a story of hope.”
“When I wrote Brave Enough, I was in a phase of my life covered in shadows,” she admits. “I was depressed as I had lost my best friend and my dad. I felt like I lost the extra light and joy that had always been a part of me. It was as if my rose-tinted glasses were gone, and I became more realistic. When I started working on Artemis, I realized the old me wasn’t gone; she was just covered in a shadow. I had to get back into the light.”
She found a kindred spirit in the inspiration for the album’s title, Artemis. In Ancient Greek mythology, this daughter of Zeus serves as the goddess of the moon. Enchanted by the character, Lindsey crafted an album-wide concept centered on Artemis. The unlikely heroine resides in the “Trenches” of a turbulent dystopian world. She heads above ground to “The Upside” in order to procure Alzheimer’s medicine for her uncle and faces tyranny, corruption, and oppression. Eventually, Artemis recognizes her strength and “helps save the world from darkness guided by dreams.”
“There’s so much symbolism in the character,” she exclaims. “The moon comes and goes. Sometimes, it gets covered in shadow. Other times, it’s beautiful and bright. One of the most powerful lessons to learn from Artemis and the moon is we can all fight back and persevere.”
Album opener “Underground” highlights violin virtuosity over a backdrop of sparse beats before a skittering drop into glitch-y dancefloor bliss. It sets the tone and introduces the symbolism of light versus dark. “Love Goes On” [feat. Amy Lee] represents a full-circle moment and is a poignant highpoint on the album. The iconic Evanescence front woman delivers a heart-tugging turn on the emotionally charged anthem underscored by unmistakable musical fireworks. Born out of the artists’ sold-out tour together in 2018, “Love Goes On” marks a special moment.
“I have been a fan of Amy’s for years,” Lindsey smiles. “I used to make music videos to her songs in high school. She is such a boss, too. It was a long time coming, but it still feels so surreal. I got chills the first time I heard it. Both of us have lost people and were there for each other through it. Amy’s brother passed away shortly before the tour, so we talked a lot. I know my dad and best friend are looking out for me. Amy knows her brother is watching her. The song is about those angels. Your love goes on, because they never stop watching out for you.”
In the end, Artemis might be Lindsey’s most magical work to date.
“My greatest hope is listeners recognize how powerful they are when they hear it,” she leaves off. “Life is full of cycles. I want everyone to believe in themselves like the character in this story. In my life, I’ve gone through depression, anorexia, and loss, but I always come out on the other side. I want to remind everyone it’s possible. You don’t have to define yourself by who you are right now, you can define yourself by who you believe you can be.”