World-renowned violinist Lindsey Stirling has been working on her craft since she was 6 years old. After begging her parents for lessons “over and over again,” she fell in love with the string instrument. “It’s a really challenging instrument that requires constant maintenance. I’ve been playing it for 28 years, and it feels like I’m constantly learning about it,” says the former America's Got Talent contestant.
Stirling has toured the world, released chart-topping albums (she has new music coming in January), and was named in Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Music: Class of 2015.” However, she never thought she would make a career out of playing the violin. “I thought the only thing a violinist could do was to be a soloist in an orchestra, the best of the best,” she says, adding that she eventually learned and accepted the fact that playing the violin “wasn’t about being perfect.” She realized that she could be more creative with the instrument, and there were no limits to what she could do: Her sound is a fusion of classical, pop, rock, and electronic dance music. “I was never going to be the best violinist, but I can be different and could use it in a way to do what I love, which is telling stories, making people smile, and being creative,” she says.
While striving to be innovative, Stirling creates strong and powerful messages in her music with themes of acceptance and personal freedom: “Every day, you experience new things, and you need to accept yourself for who you are in order to be free. It’s a theme I like to live and learn over and over again,” she affirms.
Stirling is a perfectionist and understands firsthand how easy it is to be hard on yourself. In college, she struggled with her own mental health and developed an eating disorder. Her anorexia took a toll on her body and mind, and created an unhealthy obsession with having control over her eating habits. After being in denial over her disorder and depression, she finally opened up to her mother and decided to seek professional help. “Eating disorders can make you feel so alone and isolated. When I went to group therapy, I remember feeling so understood. Suddenly, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m not alone,’” says Stirling, who still acknowledges the concept of her mental well-being as an ongoing journey and encourages others to try out therapy, as well.
Unfortunately, for Stirling, that wasn’t the only time she would fall into a deep depression. In 2015, her bandmate and close friend Jason “Gavi” Gaviati passed away, and in 2017, she lost her father. “After they died, I was depressed for 2 years. The hardest thing I’ve ever been through was losing both of them,” she candidly shares. “I went on tour and cried a lot, and never stopped reaching out [to friends and family]. I have a belief that our loved ones are never gone fully. That spirituality also helped pull me through what was a dark time.”
Her 2019 album Artemis showcased the way she looks at her own mental health now. “Artemis is the goddess of the moon, and the moon goes through shadows. Sometimes, she’s bright and glorious, and fills the night with light, and sometimes, the moon is so covered that if you didn’t know better, you’d think it was gone, but you always know the moon will come back and be filled with light,” she describes. “I realized when I’m feeling down or depressed, it’s not that I’m gone, it’s that I’m covered up with shadow. If I keep working on myself and keep striving to do better, I will come back to my full light – just like the moon.”
Stirling also recently created The Upside Fund, a charity outreach program named after her single “The Upside,” to help families with dire economic needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Writer: Gavy Contreras
Photographer & Videographer: KAT
Photographer Assistant: Jeff Bynum
Stylist: Neal St Onge
Hair: Ryan Richman
Makeup: Teresa Ammons
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Pizzanista! (@pizzanista - www.pizzanista.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)