Lindsey Stirling: The 'dubstep violinist' gets festive

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

image copyrightCara Robbins
image captionLindsey shot to fame in the US after appearing on America's Got Talent

How early is it acceptable to start listening to Christmas music?

Maybe you already are. Maybe, like us, you start hammering Christina Aguilera's classic 2000 album My Kind Of Christmas around July.

No? Oh. Just us.

"I usually wait until mid-November," says the much more sensible Lindsey Stirling, who's just released her first Christmas album. "Maybe early November, but that's as early as I'll go."

The violinist is among a string (here all week etc.) of artists releasing Christmas albums this year - including Gwen Stefani, 98 Degrees, Hanson and Sia.

But Lindsey has enlisted some friends to help out - and as a result her album, Warmer In The Winter, features guest vocals from the likes of Sabrina Carpenter and Becky G.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSabrina Carpenter and Becky G sing on Warmer in the Winter

"Christmas music was such an important part of our family. It brings all the feelings to life, whether you want to feel happy and jolly or spiritual, romantic or reminiscent," she says.

"I've never done so much homework for an album as I have for this one. I spent a solid week sitting on my couch listening to Christmas music, picking up my violin, and really finding the songs that created a nice emotional arc through the album, but also finding songs that I really enjoyed and had memories for me."

Lindsey adds that she had to look for songs which "really sang on a violin, because not every melody sings as well on different instruments".

The final set list of Warmer In The Winter includes 13 tracks - many of which are the classics you'd expect: Jingle Bell Rock, Silent Night, Let It Snow and a brilliantly jazzy rendition of You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch.

The original songs include the super-catchy Christmas C'Mon and the title track - which features Trombone Shorty, who you can probably tell from his name alone is someone you need in your life.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionTrombone Shorty: Not actually that short

This is Lindsey's fourth album since she shot to fame as a quarter-finalist on America's Got Talent in 2010.

While she now says she "wouldn't change anything" about her musical journey, she adds that the series "was a really hard experience for me".

"It almost caused me in a way to give up. I was so discouraged after that show. I thought it was going to be my big break and yet it didn't turn out how I wanted.

"I got off the show and nothing happened. I thought, 'Someone's gonna call, some record label, some producer's going to be interested', but nobody was. And I think that's because what I was doing was so different. I don't think anyone really knew what to do with it.

"It wasn't until half a year later that I discovered YouTube and started to explore that world, and that's what changed everything for me.

It certainly did.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionModern Family's Sarah Hyland presented with Lindsey at 2014's Billboard Awards

Lindsey's channel currently has nearly 10 million subscribers. Her most popular video to date, Chrystallize - which saw her style herself as the "dubstep violinist" - has notched up 181 million views.

Who needs a sneezing panda.

"YouTube has done everything for me - I don't think I ever would've made it if I hadn't had it," Lindsey says.

"It was the perfect platform for me as an artist. I was having a hard time getting anyone to understand this art form, and then I found YouTube and I was so excited because I didn't have to wait for someone to believe in me, or a record label to invest in me."

"I thought, 'I know how to edit video, I know how to create content, I was a film major in college' and I had lots of film friends so I started making these little music videos, putting them online and it was amazing for me, the reaction was very strong. And this time I was in my own court, I could direct them."

image copyrightGetty Images

Lindsey's career may now be going from strength to strength, but she hasn't shied away from speaking openly about her struggles along the way.

In an article published in The Telegraph earlier this year, she explained how a habit of counting calories when she started university led to a battle with anorexia, which saw her drop to a "dangerously unhealthy" weight.

"When I first realised I had depression and anorexia, I felt like it was such a black mark," she tells the BBC.

"Like, how could I have these really horrible mental diseases? I just remember feeling so different suddenly to everybody else. Very hopeless.

"So my biggest message to anyone struggling is that it's actually very normal. Everybody goes through it, it's natural, I think to some degree every single person has to cope with and deal with it throughout their lives.

"It doesn't mean you're tainted or have a black mark on you or that you're never going to be happy ever again - it's quite the opposite, it's something everyone can work through."

image copyrightGetty Images

Warmer in the Winter by Lindsey Stirling is out now.

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