For a millennial, violinist rock star Lindsey Stirling knows her classic Christmas TV.
Stirling is a fan of “some of these old-time Christmas specials, that I just feel capture a certain amount of magic — that leans into the medium of filming it rather than trying to pretend everything is live.”
Stirling, a 34-year-old electronic-music violinist and former Utah resident, aims to capture a little of that magic in “Lindsey Stirling: Home for the Holidays,” a pay-per-view Christmas special that will livestream on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 1 and 6 p.m. Mountain time. After the second show, the special will be available to stream on demand for 72 hours.
“I wanted to take a cross between music-video aesthetics mixed with live seamless performance,” Stirling said in a recent interview. “I’m not trying to fool anybody, like this is a live show. It’s definitely pre-filmed, highly edited.”
The special features songs from Stirling’s 2017 Christmas album, “Warmer in the Winter,” and elements from her annual Christmas concert tours.
“I really wanted to make it engaging,” Stirling said. “I wanted every song to have a different feel, and a different set, and a different set of costumes and makeup and hair. Every song I treated like a mini-music video, but they were all filmed in seamless, front-to-back, performance style.”
Also sandwiched in the special are comedy bits. “I love the old ‘Carol Burnett Show,’ and so I tried to model a little bit of sketch comedy to lean into that,” Stirling said.
Stirling, raised in Arizona and now living in Los Angeles, has a strong fan base in Utah. She went to college here, at Brigham Young University — first to study film, then returning years later, after her music career took off, to earn her bachelor’s degree in recreation management in 2015.
This fall, Stirling came back to Utah to shoot two music videos: “Guardian,” from her 2019 album “Artemis,” in the changing leaves of Big Cottonwood Canyon; and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” from “Warmer in the Winter,” shot near Saltair on the Great Salt Lake.
Like most musicians, she’s been off the road during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, she said, “I really miss it. I miss not only the performing aspect of it, and getting to engage with my fans and feel connected with them. I also miss the lifestyle — I enjoy not being on tour, but I also really enjoy that switch-up in life when I get to go on the road, live on a bus. There’s something exciting about that.”
Stirling tried to livestream her performances. “I did way too many at the beginning — we all did,” she said with a laugh. “At a certain point, I was just like, ‘I can’t do any more of these, and I don’t think anyone wants to see any more of these.’ Performing on my couch, with mediocre sound. … At first that was very charming. I loved watching people do it, I loved doing it. But then the world had to adapt and elevate.”
“Home for the Holidays” is Stirling’s effort at an elevated livestream, combining her electronic-dance violin playing with her signature dance moves. (Stirling acknowledged she’s “a self-taught dancer, for sure,” but she honed her skills when she competed on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2017, taking second place behind actor Jordan Fisher.)
Stirling said she realized early on in the pandemic that she wouldn’t be doing a Christmas tour. “It’s become kind of a tradition for me,” she said. “This was going to be my fourth year in a row, spending Christmas with my crew, who is like a road family to me.
“... It’s not easy to tell people, ‘Hey, I can’t offer you the work that I had originally intended.’ I know they all understand, but I just know that they were all craving to be creative again, and I was craving to create.”
Stirling went to Las Vegas in June with her band, her dancers and a small crew — about 25 people in all — and created a work “bubble” to ward off the spread of COVID-19.
“We just stayed in an Airbnb together, and didn’t leave,” Stirling said. “It was either there or the studio. And we did all the things every day — getting our temperatures checked and everything. … It was almost like Christmas camp.”
After making the show, which Stirling said she funded largely out of her own pocket, the next step was to find an audience. “We all would love to think that I could have sold it to a network,” Stirling said. “I tried.”
The pay-per-view offering is Plan B. “To be honest, I actually don’t know if I’ll make my money back from it. But that wasn’t 100% the point. The point wasn’t to make a ton of money. The point was to bring people joy when they’re probably going to be in quarantine at Christmas. It was to create and get my crew work.”
The do-it-yourself approach, Stirling said, has been working for her since she started out in music, mixing her violin sounds to electronic beats.
“I couldn’t get anyone to believe in my project. I couldn’t get a manager to look at me. No label wanted to touch me,” Stirling said. “So rather than just waiting for someone to say ‘yes,’ I just said, ‘OK, I’ll just start doing it myself.’ That’s kind fo the way I’ve always operated. And I think a network will see [the special] and they will be very disappointed they didn’t pick it up, because it’s really good.”
‘Lindsey Stirling: Home for the Holidays’
The electronic-dance violinist Lindsey Stirling has produced an online Christmas special, “Lindsey Stirling: Home for the Holidays.”
When • Saturday, Dec. 12, livestreaming at 1 and 6 p.m. Mountain time — then for 72 hours on demand.
Tickets • Starting at $20, ranging up to $125, depending on the additional perks — ranging from printable Christmas coloring sheets to a virtual one-on-one meet-and-greet with Stirling. (A fee of $3.50 will be added to the ticket price.) Ticket buyers will be given information about how to access the event online.