Lindsey Stirling says she was not exactly brimming with confidence when she started making her just-released sophomore album, "Shatter Me" -- which is tipped for a debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
After a self-titled 2012 debut that spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks atop the Classical Crossover Albums chart and two at No. 1 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart -- selling 321,000 copies along the way according to Nielsen SoundScan -- the violin-playing Stirling tells Billboard she "felt almost suffocated, so scared to step into the studio again and write. The first album did way better than I ever expected it to, and in a way it felt like it's impossible for me to live up to what that album did. I tallied it up one day, which I probably shouldn't have, and the songs from that album have almost 300 million views on YouTube. How can I possibly live up to it? What if I fail? I really was scared."
Stirling pulled herself together in short order, though, after creating the album's opening track, "Beyond the Veil," with SILAS.
"I think it spoke to swell to what I was feeling," Stirling explains, "this kind of searching melody and then there's a pre-chorus that's almost crying out for help, this pleading prayer for help, which is what I felt like I was doing. And then the chorus became victorious and triumphant, which is the state of mind I wanted to get to. When I heard it back the first time, I had this overwhelming feeling of, 'Yes, I can do this! I am going to be helped. I'm not alone in this. I'm gonna receive inspiration.'"
Help on the independently released "Shatter Me" came from other collaborators such as Robert DeLong, Scott Gold, Kill Paris and Marco G. as well as guest vocalists Dia Frampton on "We Are Giants" and Lzzy Hale on the title track, which was inspired by Stirling's days working in a treatment center for young women battling a variety of issues.
"It's a powerful song, and I was looking for a singer who's just a powerhouse," Stirling says. "Lzzy had never heard of me and I had never heard of Lzzy. But I started digging into the (Halestorm) videos and though, 'Wow, this girl is powerful,' almost a perfect mix between a little bit of the Amy Lee style and the power of Hayley Williams from Paramore. Lzzy and I immediately became fans of each other's music, and we have this really cool respect for each other as self-made artists and now she's one of my favorite people in the world."
Stirling feels that after "the big experiment" of her first album, "Shatter Me" "digs a lot deeper, musically and emotionally. I feel like I pushed the limits in every way. The violin is, like, much more classical but at the same time the electronic side is much more in-your-face, up-front, hard-hitting. I took both styles of music to a little more extreme rather than testing the waters like I did on the first one." She'll be testing some new waters on the "Shatter Me" tour as well, which kicks off May 13 in San Diego and will find her accenting the concerts with a bigger light show and even a pair of dancers.
"For the first time, I'm learning choreography instead of just bouncing spontaneously and jumping all over the stage," Stirling says with a laugh. "It's a little overwhelming but still exciting. I can see the vision and see where it's going. It's really hard, but I know I can do it. So it's going to be a super-fun show and something really different than I've done before."