How MILCK's Women’s March anthem ‘Quiet' found its purpose in #MeToo
One year ago this month, the Women's March compelled over three million people around America to rally around human rights on Jan. 27, 2017 for one of the largest single-day protests in U.S. history.
At the day’s largest event, the Women's March on Washington, the Los Angeles singer-songwriter MILCK performed a song that would blossom into the march’s unofficial anthem.
Before the march, the singer (real name Connie Lim) took her song Quiet, which she wrote about her experiences overcoming traumas including domestic abuse and anorexia, and arranged it for an a cappella choir. With the help of D.C.-based a cappella groups, MILCK took Quiet to the Women’s March, forming a flash mob to perform the song for the day's attendees.
Within days, the song went viral, and MILCK’s career transformed. She returns to New York this weekend to perform at the city’s second annual Women’s March, celebrating Friday’s release of her major label debut This Is Not The End EP with an appearance on the Today show.
“It has been crazy — I have gone from being a DIY artist of like eight years, and just booking one-man gigs and doing everything on my own, a one-woman show,” she told USA TODAY. “And when the march happened I decided to bring the song Quiet to the streets. Then I started realizing that, ‘Oh, I'm not so alone.’"
But it wasn’t until #MeToo that Lim felt ready to officially attach Quiet to a social movement. Even with the song’s popularization as an anti-Trump anthem, she never felt comfortable with advertising the song as political, in the hopes that listeners could find their own meaning within its lyrics.
“When I first released the song, I put on my site like, ‘I'm a survivor of abuse and anorexia and this is my song in response to it,’” she says. “And so when the song went viral, it became ‘the anti-Trump song,’ it was like a really political thing. And I'm so glad I stuck to the truth...I was like I'm not going to try to please others and say, oh yeah, this is not political. I just stuck with what it really was, my truth.”
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That involved turning down some groups’ request to use the song, including political candidates.
Yet, when the #MeToo movement began to take hold, “I felt this sense of, ‘Here's the home for this song,” she says. “I finally thought, 'If there's any movement that I'm going to consciously attach my song to, this is it,'" she said. "I've refused to brand it....And so for (#MeToo), I felt that, ‘Okay, this feels right.’ And it was really scary for me.”
Part of Lim’s journey with Quiet has been seeing so many listeners connect with a song that came from a deeply personal place, and growing into the song herself.
“I was just touring with Ani DiFranco, who (told me) a lot of times, as musicians, we're writing ourselves into existence. Quiet was a song that I wasn't fully yet. But as I keep singing the song, I keep becoming more of it....so it's been this really incredible journey of self-manifestation and becoming more clear and confident, and I'm so grateful for all the support I have now.”
Lim’s triumphs with Quiet haven’t always come easy, and as a sexual assault survivor, she battled plenty of self-doubt. “I got triggered again from the pain of telling the story, and I didn't realize that was really triggered because retriggering is pretty sneaky. And it looked like my inner voice going, ‘Why are you telling this story, yours is not even that bad,’ just ugly and aggressive self-talk that I was battling for a while.”
Yet, when #MeToo emerged, “I feel like my entire life has been for this movement,” she says.
“I remember when I was younger, (thinking), ‘Why did I get sexually assaulted? Why do I have anorexia? Why do I have anxiety, why do I feel silenced?’ My song Quiet had been stuck in my throat for years, and I'd been trying to figure out how to say what the song says, but I didn't know how to say it because I just wasn't there emotionally and mentally. And then finally, when I had done enough self-healing and self-love exercises and incessant therapy, I finally heard my inner voice saying, ‘I can't keep quiet.’”
MILCK's new EP This Is Not The End is out Friday.