Lindsey Stirling Talks Joining 'Dancing With the Stars' & Shares First Holiday Album Track: Premiere
In her college years at Utah's Brigham Young University, violinist Lindsey Stirling remembers joining her roommates to watch the first season of Dancing With the Stars, where model Kelly Monaco took home the coveted Mirrorball. "I remember thinking, 'That looks like so much fun. I would love to do something like that,'" Stirling tells Billboard.
Twelve years and three No. 1 albums on Billboard's Dance/Electronic charts later -- and with her holiday album Warmer in the Winter out soon -- Stirling has come full circle. The artist best known for her electronica-classical fusion is set to compete on Season 25 of Dancing With the Stars, which premieres Sept 18 on ABC.
"It’s always such a weird feeling," Stirling says about being asked to compete. "Like, 'Whoa, what has my life become?'”
By now, though, Stirling is no stranger to reality TV competitions. The musician made it to the quarterfinals of America's Got Talent back in 2010 with her hip-hop-flavored violin performances, and she's appeared on DWTS before as a guest performer -- though she says coming on to compete is a different story.
"To be honest, when I was on America's Got Talent, I remember thinking, 'I will never do reality TV again,'” Stirling says. "But it’s very apparent from the times I went [to DWTS] and was a guest performer that it’s kind of like a family environment."
Stirling has already found friends among her competitors in singer-songwriter Jordan Fisher, of Hamilton and Grease: Live, and Drew Scott, one-half of HGTV duo The Property Brothers. And she says her rehearsals with professional dance partner Mark Ballas have been filled with just as many challenges as laughs: "You can make fun of me if you want, but I’m trying to learn this ballroom walk," Stirling explains, "and it just turns into laughing."
Stirling thinks her musicianship might give her a leg-up in the competition, noting that skills as simple as an understanding of technical terms in music can help competitors learn ballroom moves faster. And though Stirling is mostly self-trained in dance, the artist is known for her vibrant stage presence. "I may not be a trained dancer, but I know how to put passion behind movement," Stirling adds. "As [Ballas] keeps saying, 'You’re very brave. You just throw your body, and then you think about where it’s going.'"
Lindsey admits she's "terrified" to take the stage for her first dance with Ballas, but says she couldn't pass up the chance to experiment with a new art form. "This is such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only invest yourself fully into something like ballroom when that’s not your profession, but also to be taught by some of the best people in the world," she says.
While rehearsals for the competition are taking up most of Stirling's schedule, the rest is dominated by preparations for her upcoming holiday album, Warmer in the Winter, which drops Oct. 20 ahead of her Christmas tour. The album has been a longtime goal for Stirling, who says a Christmas album allows artists to experiment with "big-band" sounds.
Stirling's album, in fact, features a full 80-piece orchestra with electronic production backing. And the album's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," premiering on Billboard below, toes the line between trap drums and more orchestral sounds. "[The album] was almost an excuse to try out a lot of different styles that I love," Stirling explains. "Almost the entire album is live experimentation."
Check out "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," the album artwork and Stirling's tour dates below:
Lindsey Stirling “Warmer In The Winter Christmas Tour" Dates
Nov. 8 - Albany, NY @ Palace Theatre
Nov. 9 - Tom’s River, NJ @ Pine Belt Arena
Nov. 10 - Washington, DC @ The Anthem
Nov. 11 - Mashantucket, CT @ Foxwoods Resort Casino Grand Theater
Nov. 14 - New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
Nov. 16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Academy of Music
Nov. 17 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
Nov. 22 - Atlanta, GA @ Cobb Energy Center
Nov. 24 - Tampa, FL @ Starz Center
Nov. 25 - St. Augustine, FL @ Saint Augustine Amphitheatre
Nov. 27 - Houston, TX @ Revention Music Center
Nov. 28 - San Antonio, TX @ Tobin Center for Performing Arts
Nov. 29 - El Paso, TX @ Abraham Chavez Theatre
Dec. 1 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Dec. 2 - Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
Dec. 4 - Omaha, NE @ Orpheum
Dec. 5 - Cedar Rapids, IA @ US Cellular Center
Dec. 6 - Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
Dec. 7 - Minneapolis, MN @ Orpheum Theatre
Dec. 8 - Lawrence, KS @ Lied Center
Dec. 9 - Denver, CO @ 1st Bank Center
Dec. 11 - Idaho Falls, ID @ Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium
Dec. 12 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Eccles Theatre
Dec. 14 - Eugene, OR @ Hult Center for the Performing Arts
Dec. 15 - Spokane, WA @ INB Performing Arts Center
Dec. 16 - Seattle, WA @ The Paramount Theatre
Dec. 18 - Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Dec. 20 - San Jose, CA @ City National Civic
Dec. 21 - Los Angeles, CA @ Microsoft Theater
Dec. 22 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Cosmopolitan Chelsea Theatre
Dec. 23 - Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre