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Music

Musician MILCK On The Women's March

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You may have heard this song before.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIET")

MILCK: (Singing) Put on your face. Know your place.

I am MILCK. I am a singer-songwriter. I have found myself on a whirlwind of a journey ever since January 2017.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIET")

MILCK: (Singing) I can't keep quiet, no.

SIMON: At the Women's March in Washington, D.C., MILCK performed the song "Quiet" with a group of women who were strangers until just days before. A video of the performance went viral. Now MILCK has a new EP, and it includes the song she calls her thesis.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIET")

MILCK: (Singing) I can't keep quiet for anyone.

It has been stuck in my (laughter) throat and my consciousness for years and years and years. I have been trying to find a way to heal myself from the burdens of being silenced.

And I grew up in a really traditional background. My family is Chinese-American. My parents moved here from Hong Kong, and they lived the classic American dream. My father moved to the States with just a little bit of cash and then worked his way as a burger flipper, then a custodian - through pharmacy school, then medical school. And my parents and their spirit is a very big part of my childhood and how I perhaps felt a lot of pressure to walk in those footsteps of becoming what they felt was appropriate. They wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK SHEEP")

MILCK: (Singing) Black sheep, crying those rebels tears. It's a battle to survive these lonely years.

I was just different, even physically. I was a chubby kid, and I became really ashamed of how I was different from the standard stick-thin, polite, classy, elegant Asian-American female image.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK SHEEP")

MILCK: (Singing) It runs deep, it's insatiable - that hunger to be seen, to be understood. Black sheep...

I've noticed that I haven't really written many love songs for this EP. Most of them are about the things that take up my headspace.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I DON'T BELONG TO YOU")

MILCK: (Singing) Too long, my back's been breaking. Too long, I've been crusading for you.

I wrote "I Don't Belong To You" in 2017 as I was watching - the world seemed to unravel - just news story after news story. And I was also being sent around the country and to different countries to sing and share my story. And I was seeing the hopefulness and the pain. And so I was really emotionally charged. I felt like this open nerve ending, and I needed to unleash a little bit of my anger.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I DON'T BELONG TO YOU")

MILCK: (Singing) 'Cause I don't, I don't belong to you. I'm letting the lion loose, nothing to prove to you. I'm sayin, no more needing your permission.

My songs, I think, have a potential to become protest songs. I don't have a power in deciding that. I've realized, as an artist, my job is to just provide honesty in a time where it's hard to know what is true and what is not.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I DON'T BELONG TO YOU")

MILCK: (Singing) I don't belong to you.

SIMON: That was MILCK. Her new EP, "This Is Not The End," is out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS IS NOT THE END")

MILCK: (Singing) It's not the end. It's not over yet. I will fight for it till my dying breath. It's not the end. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.