The latest residency from the Calgary Public Library might be just the soothing sound that Calgarians wanting to break into the music scene need.
Mirabelle Jien, the Musical Artist in Residence, is the latest member of the Central Library’s residency programs that aim to assist visitors to explore the arts and entrepreneurship.
Jien, who has a Masters of Music from the University of Toronto and is a classically trained flutist, transformed her musical career through community building on the social media platform Twitch—and in the process, developed a unique musical genre of her own that she and her community calls sad bop.
“I’m hoping that I can share my love and passion for music with others, and hopefully they can feel that as well and want to learn more about music, creativity, entrepreneurship, whatever it is,” she said.
“I just think that for a lot of people, their creativity gets squashed a little bit when they’re young and or when parents forced them into the STEM fields—science, technology and all that. So I want to help them find their… re-ignite that inner child.”
In addition to making music on Twitch, Jien has composed music for video games, commercials, and charity fundraisers. Her work Overcoming raised more than $10,000 on Twitch for Stop AAPI Hate.
She also hosts Making It, a podcast that interviews Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar nominees and winners about creativity and creative entrepreneurship.
“If you have any music questions, I’m here to answer them. If you want to just talk about entrepreneurship, making a career out of all this, or if you just want to talk about my work if you’re just interested in what I do, yeah.”
Booking appointments with Jien is free though the Calgary Public Library’s website, or people can drop in on Wednesdays and Saturdays to her fourth floor office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Music, art, technology, and community building
She said that disconnect between art and STEM doesn’t actually have to be so.
Music production, social media streaming, and other aspects of modern musical creation heavily involves technology skills. All things that Jien does live on Twitch.
“There’s so much audio, video production that you have to learn to be able to live stream and get everything running. I live stream twice a week, and I sing mainly acoustic,” Jien said.
“My style was more acoustic indie folk, sort of with some flute added in because I have this classical background… they call it sad bop online, my community.”
While working towards her Masters, Jien said she felt limited by the career opportunities available.
“I felt very restricted, I suppose. The paths that I could choose to go down for this musical career, because studying flute in school it was very academic, and then I did my masters, the jobs that you could do were basically just either be an orchestral musician or be a band teacher,” she said.
“Though those options are great, I know it’s not for everybody. Orchestral musicians, it takes a lot of discipline and also auditions and it’s just not easy to get into… then being a band teacher, not everybody’s fit to be a teacher.”
She said that during the pandemic she found Twitch and began to connect with other artists, filmmakers, and musicians and that opened up a whole new way to perform her art.
The community she has built in turn, has given her a great deal of inspiration.
“Most of my songs come from my experiences. Now that I’ve cultivated this community, I’m hearing a lot of stories of other people and their lives and what’s going on, and they share their struggles with me, and they share their wins with me,” Jien said.
“I draw from everybody’s experiences and I write about that. So, the music, it can feel hopeful, some are sad—I have a song called Wildfire, and it’s my metaphor for cancer. So it gets deep in and that’s sad bop.”
More information about Jien, her music, and her podcast is available at mirabellejien.com.