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contributor ::: jonathan perkins

I have many amazing friends who are, in my humble opinion, doing their bit to save the world a little each day, but it isn’t often that the rest of the world actually acknowledges one of them in the public sphere, so I get to brag wholeheartedly that I know him/her. Such is the case with my incredibly talented friend Connie Lim, aka MILCK. I got to know MILCK, in LA, when she was still Connie, fresh off The Voice and just getting to know the ins and outs of the music industry. She was this mysterious artist with a keen eye for the visual with super elaborate music videos rich in imagery and a powerful alto voice with an almost haunting quality to it that breaks your heart- in a good way.

I watched her grow and blossom under the tutelage of another amazing friend from The Berklee School of Music, Adrianne Gonzalez, an incredible artist and writer herself, as she learned to shape her unique voice and talents into a cohesive message ready to bring to the masses.

That message could not have been clearer these past few weeks as MILCK exploded into the national conversation with a brilliant idea: for the upcoming Women’s March on Washington, why not take one of her more personal songs written in the course of her own private struggles that has the potential to apply more universally to the struggles of women everywhere, find a group of women who have never met before who can sing to practice it online/Skype/etc. together, and then, meeting for the first time in D.C., perform the song at the march? A video of it went viral and captured the imaginations and hearts of countless women (and men) across the country, and before you knew it, it was being crowned the official anthem of the Women’s March, by especially none other than Samantha Bee on her show, ‘Full Frontal‘. They made a repeat appearance at LAX for the airport protests as well, keeping the message alive. The attention has already garnered her multiple offers from labels, and it just goes to show that sometimes an artist making a difference and taking a stand can be rewarded in more ways than one. I am sure this is only the beginning of great things to come from her.

The song, “I Can’t Keep Quiet”, starts off with MILCK’s ever so recognizable dark lilt as she lists off the many insults and commands hurled at women on a daily basis until the song cascades into a whirlwind of resistance, punctuated by the title line and

a fierce declaration of a ‘one-woman riot’

A powerful word given the sensitivity to the issue of protest/police violence across the country in the past few years. I, for one, am signing up.

MILCK was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule and answer some questions about the whole experience.

JP: How did the idea for “I Can’t Keep Quiet” and gathering women from all over the country to perform it together at the march come about?

M: My friend Krista Suh (creator of the Pussyhat Project) and I were riffing ideas during Thanksgiving break after the election. As we were riffing ideas I thought, Krista’s project was the distribution of a physical object that would conveniently keep the marcher warm. I also realized that distributing a song in a physical format (CD or download cards or USBs) would be cumbersome to hold on to, and doesn’t keep somebody warm. However, a sonic EXPERIENCE could warm the heart. I think about public street art, where it’s free and for the people… just to bring joy and soul into a passerby’s life. I’m not the painter by trade, so instead of painting a mural on a wall, I could create a wall of sound to project something positive and healing into the environment where marchers would be.

I was recruiting singers by emailing a bunch of a cappella groups in the DC area. I was part of the UC Berkeley Golden Overtones during college, so harmony and a cappella music is a quite second nature to me. I thought it’d be a nice, natural way for me to coordinate different singers, and unite them through song. Because I am a producer, I was comfortable arranging and recording each part separately for the girls to learn. I wanted to embrace technology and allow for the internet to help spur a very organic performance.

JP: As it gained momentum, could you ever have anticipated the response?
M: I had no idea that the song would be born this way.
I never saw myself cool or hip enough to be a viral sensation.
In addition, when I watch the video of me singing with the choir during the march, I see me being me, doing what I have been doing for years. However, I think the act of harmonizing with strangers really added this concept of depth to the whole experience. The whole experience of meeting 25 women I had never met before to sing was an incredibly moving, emotional, and soulful experience. Perhaps that came through in the video, and people could subconsciously feel the love.

I knew the song was special because it was my own little therapy song for my own demons from the past. I wrote it at the end of 2015, and based off of people’s reactions, I realized that it was truly speaking to my friends beyond just me. I thought that perhaps I would inspire some of my local following to see me doing this art project in DC, but I didn’t expect the world to catch on so quickly and lovingly. Everyday I wake up to emails about choirs popping up all over the world. Just today I discovered a new choir in London, Austria, and Yorkshire.

JP: That’s amazing! So how did it eventually find its way to Samantha Bee?

M: Samantha Bee is a badass and truly has her ear to the ground. She caught wind of this immediately from the viral twitter video. She then reached out on Sunday (the next day, after the march) to see if all 25 of us could find our way to New York. With a bunch of planning and finessing, we were able to get organized and bring the experience to NY by that Wednesday. It was funny because the staff told us they didn’t want any snot or boogers on their seats, so they had kleenex boxes at the end of each row of seats. It was definitely emotional. I found myself crying after the performance.

JP: It was such an incredible performance… What are some of the things that have happened as a result of the appearance and the viral nature of the video overall?

M: Choirs are forming all over the world, from the Philippines to Thailand to San Francisco to Yorkshire. I’m so floored by the global impact. I flew out to Toronto this past week to sing with 1300 Canadians with Choir! Choir! Choir! as a fundraiser for the ACLU. That video is coming out this week.

I’ve also found myself in this crazy dream of a whirlwind, meeting producers I’ve only dreamed of reading about, and record labels that have helped promote music that has shaped my ear. My goal is to create an #icantkeepquiet day, where all choirs and non-singers join together to make some noise… either through song or story. I’m also eager to release more music, as I wrote over 70 songs last year… and I’ve been looking back at my catalogue and realized I was unknowingly writing a playlist of songs perfectly tailored for the gentle, yet effective rebel of our modern day. I hope to write some more new ones, inspired by all the emotions that come with this whirlwind of an experience.

Please enjoy her performance on ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ below, supported by the a cappella groups Capital Blend and the GW Sirens.

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