Almost a year after the first Women’s March in Washington, D.C., when a powerful a cappella version of the song “Quiet” united women of all backgrounds, the artist who coined the song has released her first EP.
“This is Not the End” by MILCK is an intricate piece that tackles the struggles of being the daughter of immigrant parents, being a woman, and being human. The unforgettable track “Quiet” is three songs in, nestled comfortably in between equally moving pieces.
The opening track “Call of the Wild” sets the tone with soaring vocals accompanied by soaring strings. The entire piece is ethereal, elegant, and utterly captivating. The song, relatively quiet compared to songs like “Black Sheep” or “I Don’t Belong to You” is an enchanting opening song, and draws you into the rest of the EP. Just as you get comfortable, however, the second track starts, and you’re hit all at once with a power ballad ala the female empowerment movement. “I Don’t Belong to You” exists in two places at once; all at once a rally cry for women and an anthem for following your dreams. Is it cheesy? Sure. Is that a bad thing?
Absolutely not. In fact, it sets the stage for “Quiet,” which on its own is a powerful piece of music, but combined with the previous song, can empower anyone to do anything, from something as simple as getting out of the bed in the morning or rocket launch an entire movement.
When “Quiet” unofficially became the anthem of the Women’s March, no one, particularly MILCK, had any idea how relevant the song would become in the months following. After the impact of #metoo and Time’s Up, however, it’s clear that this song has taken on a much bigger role as an anthem for women around the world.
“Ooh Child” begins the second part of the EP, a quietly beautiful cover that feels just as much as an original as it is an homage to the original. “Black Sheep” follows in the steps of “Quiet,” a simple yet powerful song that must resonate with anyone who’s felt alienated or discouraged in following their dreams. I think this theme is particularly strong in the track “Undercover,” where lyrics like
I feel like I’m living someone else’s life and it’s all I’ve ever wanted/to let down my guard/be out in the open/not have to try so hard. Part of what interests me so much about these songs is that they came from a deeply personal place. MILCK explains this a little bit more in an interview with NPR:
“I remember walking into a writing session shortly after ‘Quiet’ went viral and it was like, ‘let’s write some movement songs!’ And I froze up. I immediately felt really uncomfortable. I was like, I don’t think I can do that. I think I just need to continue writing really honest songs. So, the thing that I started writing about a lot actually was my family and my dad and my mom and my sister and these people who have had these really important roles in my life. I started really reflecting on them in a different way because I finally felt like maybe I can do this, truly do this as a living and have a good life and have an audience to speak to. My dynamic with my father has changed so much. He really didn’t want me to do music. He was very upset that I left UC Berkeley and decided to go off on this path. Growing up as an American kid with traditional Chinese parents there’s so much unspoken tension. And I was the black sheep in the family [but now] I’ve actually found a home for myself. For so long I felt like I didn’t know where my home was. And actually, there’s a whole other family out there and it’s a global family because when ‘Quiet’ went viral, I started getting a bunch of messages from men and women and they were calling me ‘sister.’ They’re like, ‘thank you, sister.’ And I would reply, ‘thank you, brother. Thank you, sister.’ It was worldwide.”
The album ends with the title track, “This is Not the End.” It’s a fitting title, as I personally feel like this EP is only the beginning of MILCK’s career into stardom. But, in a sense, this might mean something else, something much bigger: perhaps the continuation of the Time’s Up movement, or perhaps a rally cry for struggling artists, who have yet to make their big break. Truthfully, there are endless interpretations. I think it’s a perfect way to finish the record: full of promise.
Source: Hilton, Robert. “MILCK: Women are Viral.” All Songs Considered. NPR, 22 Jan. 2018. Web. 27 Jan. 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2018/01/22/578578620/milck-women-are-viral
By: Catelyn Rees