A lot has changed for MILCK, the artist behind the song “Quiet,” which went viral following the 2016 presidential election and became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March in January. A lot has stayed the same, too. For one thing, she still has no intention of keeping quiet -- and to show it, she has released a new, uplifting video for the track.
The new video, which features some of the singer’s friends and sexual assault survivors, was completed earlier this year with a planned release in January, when she will debut an EP of new music. But when people started stepping forward to recount their own stories of sexual harassment and abuse in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Los Angeles-based artist tells ET it was the right moment to release it.
"[I said,] 'I want to be a part of this.' It's my sonic 'Me Too,' and I think other women will relate to it," says MILCK, whose real name is Connie Lim. "I've seen what [‘Quiet’] has done for other women when it went viral in January. It's just, like, a source of comfort, so I was like, let's do this now. And it's more joyful, so maybe it can give people some hope. We need hope right now."
Given the current political and news climate, MILCK says “we’re at a time when we’re going to stop blaming the woman -- maybe. We’re getting there.”
In contrast to a video made for the song ahead of the Women's March, which shows the singer alone in a tank filling with water, the new version is much more optimistic. It features two storylines: one that stems from her own experiences with abuse within a relationship, and the other following a young transgender girl unsure of her father's acceptance. It culminates with the characters joining MILCK and an orchestra of young women to close on an uplifting note.
MORE: Meet MILCK, the Songwriter Who Unintentionally Penned the Powerful Anthem of the Women's March
“This new video is joyous," she says, adding that when the song went viral, she realized, “I’m not the only one feeling this. And it was such a nice way to know that we're all connecting. I get goosebumps just thinking about it."
Although the story the song tells is very personal, the singer understands that it resonates with people on a wider level. "When I was younger I felt unheard and sometimes unsafe in my own home. My parents are loving, hard-working people, but the cultures clash," says MILCK, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong. "The culture also didn't encourage people who are different to speak out, so I was always told to be quiet. I think on a micro level that's my story. The micro is I didn't feel safe or heard in my own home, so on the macro, I think as humans, we're not feeling safe or heard in our own countries or cities or world."
The 10 months since the Women's March have been a whirlwind for the Palos Verdes, California, native. Not only has she signed with Atlantic Records (“I went from one DIY artist to now working with a big team”) with new music on the way, she's been busy with public speaking engagements and recently covered the Five Stairsteps’ 1970 song “Ooh Child” in a Procter & Gamble ad tied to the 2018 Olympic Games. As if that wasn't enough, she has also established The I Can't Keep Quiet Fund, to support community organizations from sales of her tickets and merchandise.
The response to MILCK’s newfound outspokenness hasn't been all rosy, though. She admits that she receives hate mail -- but there's one kind that bugs her above the others. "The message that really pisses me off is like, 'Well, women in the Middle East are getting their genitalia cut, so you should just shut up,'" she says. "That is completely wrong. The point is we're not all truly free until we're all free, and the women who have mouthpieces need to speak up for the women in other places, and for men too."
Her upcoming EP, This Is Not the End, will feature more songs about the times when she didn't speak up and wishes she had. "For those people who are either past that or still going through it, these songs I hope are just comfort so that they can get through their day," she says.
With the one-year anniversary of the 2016 election coming up, MILCK has some advice for others like her who feel wearied by the constant cycle of news and events. “I can feel, even myself, feel so tired sometimes. I get worn out, and then I start wanting to block out things. I'm like, I can't. I have to stay present,” she says. "I hope people will take the time to think on the anniversary of this election, to rest, to take care of oneself, and then to be like, ‘OK, now that I'm energized and taken care of, how can I contribute?'"