Miriam ‘Mim’ Rizvi’s career as a musical theatre performer and entertainer has been anything but conventional.
Born and raised in Canberra, Rizvi studied her craft in Sydney, and from there pursued the traditional route of getting an agent and taking as many auditions as possible.
“I went to a lot of auditions, and kept getting very close for children band re-castings, like Hi-5,” she told Canberra Weekly.
When Rizvi would get the news she’d missed out, she’d call her hometown friend, and now fellow Beanie, Laura Dawson, feeling bummed out.
“Eventually she said ‘why don’t we start our own and the success will be ours and not dependent on auditions’ … It’s been a little match made in heaven, it’s been going really well ever since.”
It was from there, about four years ago, that the critically acclaimed and now ARIA award nominated Beanies were founded. And they’ve been writing music ever since.
Just earlier this month they found out they’d been nominated for the ARIA award for Best Children’s Album for their 2018 work, Imagination Station, pitting them against the likes of the almighty skivvies, The Wiggles.
“It was a weird process because we didn’t think we’d get nominated at all,” Rizvi said.
“I was at my normal job, suddenly got a tweet and my phone lit up with texts from Laura. I called her and she started screaming; she said everyone at the announcement was staring at her.”
Creating songs that are silly, fun, imaginative and educational, Rizvi says their ideas come from all over the place.
“Some come from our own inspiration; Sneaky Robber came from a childhood story in my house where my cousin got in trouble for melting a candle and getting wax everywhere … he blamed the sneaky robber.
“Michael, a loose cannon – I don’t know where his ideas come from but they tend to be the crazier ones – he came up with a song about sharks singing jazz music.
“We’re now big enough that we get requests from parents, which is a bit exciting. Brush Your Teeth came from a mum who wrote to us because she was having a hard time getting her daughter to brush her teeth.”
Rizvi, Dawson, their other bandmate Michael Yore and their composer, fellow Canberran James Court, have since expanded from writing music and performing live to producing a podcast that’s allowed them to reach an even broader audience.
Their educational podcast, The Beanies Imagination Station, was created to be a parent’s “guilt-free babysitter”.
“We wanted to create entertainment that would give parents a break but also wouldn’t spoon-feed children readymade entertainment, so they could use their imaginations but also give parents a bit of a break,” Rizvi says.
“When you own something yourself, you can really see an end goal and a mission; our goal is to teach children to be as creative as possible.
“In the podcast, we’ll tell kids to close your eyes, imagine this, what does it smell like, look like and imagine every facet of it.”
As for what the future holds, Rizvi says between their weekly podcast, creating new music, and a chock-a-block performing schedule, they have a lot on their plate.
“We can’t sit still, we’re all too full of beans.
“We’re going to have Beanie camp this year; we’re going on a writing camp together, locking ourselves in a room and just having a creative week together, so we’re really excited for that.”
Having recently ticked off a “bucket list gig” by performing at Floriade, Rizvi says they’re always excited to come home and perform in Canberra, and look forward to bringing their musical, Extraordinary Day, to The Q in early 2020.