Connie Lim, also as MILCK, is not only a talented musician, but she is also a passionate activist. She uses her platform to spark powerful conversations about women’s rights and sexual assault. Read below to learn about her #ICantKeepQuiet movement and how you can help create change.
What makes you proud of your heritage?
I have two different types of heritage that I am blessed to come from: Chinese and American. My Chinese heritage gave me a lot of balance in perspective as I grew up in the States. Traveling to Hong Kong and other surrounding cities in China exposed me to many different types of people, opinions, ways of living, and traditions. This gift of travel and exposure to a world outside of the United States allowed for me to learn early on that there is no one right way of living, and that there is beauty in being empathetic, and looking at things from multiple perspectives. On top of that, my Chinese American heritage really emphasized the value of family and dedicating our lives to servicing the community we live in. I was taught from an early age that what I put out into the world will come back in different forms. I also was taught to be grateful for my ancestors, and to truly respect the elderly.
Tell us a bit about your background and upbringing.
I was born in Hollywood and grew up in a southern Californian suburb, Palos Verdes. I come from a line of trailblazers. First off, my grandfather moved from a small village in China to Hong Kong in his teens. He taught himself the dialect of Cantonese and worked his way up, from being a factory worker in the textile industry to being an owner of seven factories after creating a new way of dying yarn. My dad moved to the states with $1,000, a couple suitcases, and a big dream. He worked as both a janitor and burger flipper to pay for pharmacy school. Then he worked his way through medical school. My mother came to the States knowing very little English but found herself graduating college while also being pregnant with my sister. She now continues to flourish as a real estate agent and community builder. Needless to say, I come from a bloodline that dares to take risks and to leap towards the near impossible. I grew up hearing those stories, constantly wanting to also take risks. I grew up privileged, as my father was a doctor. I was comfortable and able to take music lessons from an early age. I started training opera when I was eight and playing piano at age six. Ever since I was young, I was concerned about the well-being of human beings in the world. My first composition was titled “Healthy People” in hopes to create a world where no children need to starve. In high school I then created the HUMAN club (Help, Unify, Mend, And Nurture) to help bring attention to foster kids, eating disorders, and cancer. I always felt a nagging feeling that something was missing, and I finally found the fulfillment in songwriting. I wrote my first pop song at age 16 and never looked back. I moved to Berkeley to study at UC Berkeley, then immediately moved to Los Angeles proper to find my way in the music industry.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about bringing more peace to the world through vulnerability, art, and community. Music has the power to open hearts and bring people together, despite political or socio-economic views. Once I wrote my first song, I realized that I could be vulnerable and share my story to help others feel less alone. I believe that communities can heal and unify through honest and open conversations, where we all can be willing to be challenged. I am also very passionate about wick candles, Cheez-Its, and kombucha.
How did you find your passion?
I always say that I didn’t choose music. Rather, it chose me. I have been chasing melodies and poetry ever since I was young, and I have been singing and recording my ideas since I was out of the womb. In fact, my dad said that I sang so much around the house that he decided to put me in voice lessons to make sure I was singing properly. I am a lucky gal.
What upcoming project are you looking forward to?
There are two projects that I have been focusing on: The first project has been a year in the making, and it’s my next EP that I’ll be releasing with Atlantic Records. I wrote 65 songs in the past year and a half, and I am finally getting to a point where I’m ready to share my favorite ones. I went through a big breakup in the middle of my song “Quiet” going viral, so this album is about rebirth, finding my own way, and juggling all the hopes and dreams I have both in personal and career life. I am also exploring the fascinating ability that humans have to reopen their hearts, even after heartbreak. The willingness to be broken again, for the sake of love, fascinates me. I’m looking forward to building the collaborative project that is growing on icantkeepquiet.org. I love the idea of strangers coming together to get vulnerable, and amplify each other’s bravery through art.
Tell us more about how “I Can’t Keep Quiet” Day came to be.
I Can’t Keep Quiet day came up organically after “Quiet” went viral in January 2017. I had released the sheet music for free, and choirs all over the world started flash mobbing. I decided it would be powerful for the choirs to all sing together, on the same day, to elevate the energy of the world. So we did. Now, each year, I try different things to bring people together. In 2018, we gathered in a Los Angeles concert. This year, we are collaborating and sharing stories online.
How can our readers get involved?
There are 4 options that your readers can get involved.
- Submit a story of overcoming any obstacle on icantkeepquiet.org.
- Amplify one of the stories from Step 1 by creating something in response. It can be a poem, a photo, a cross stitch, a painting, a dance, a song, a short story, an essay, or just a loving comment. Whatever tickles your fancy.
- On April 8th, post a photo on your own socials, sharing what you can’t keep quiet about. It can be about anything. Add #icantkeepquietday.
- Purchase the PURPOSEfull TOTE collab I did with The Little Market to help benefit the three nonprofits that I have chosen to be this year’s #ICANTKEEPQUIET FUND beneficiaries. (Learn about them at icantkeepquiet.org/fund)
What is one thing you hope will change for women this year – globally or locally?
I hope to create an album that allows women to feel catharsis, joy, and motivation. I hope that the music I release this year will unlock more of the wild magic within those who listen to it.
What is your advice for how to leverage creativity for social change?
Movements are messy, so just begin by telling your truth. Your story, and your willingness to wear it proudly, is a powerful step of activism. I also encourage people to focus on active activism more so than reactive activism. Reactive activism is when we react to external events on the news, running from one cause and fight to the other. I think it’s good to have about 30 percent of my activism energy in this so I can support others’ causes. However, the remaining 70 percent of my activism energy is dedicated to my specific passion, and I have planned to chip away at my goals for years to come. Great change comes over time, so I think there is power in being focused on a specific cause, and to go for that for the long term.
Why do you support The Little Market?
The leaders and the team of this organization are such great, committed people who operate from kindness, follow through, and love. Not only are the products of high quality, and so beautiful, but the people who make these products are women from all over the world. I love that The Little Market puts so much care into making sure the women that create the products work under dignified working conditions. I love that I can purchase items knowing that the products are 100 percent fair trade and made sustainably. The Little Market sells gifts that keep on giving, both to the consumer and the creator.
Morning person or night owl? Both! I go through phases of each, like the classic Gemini that I can be.
How do you start your day? Coffee first. Life after.
What is your “happy place?” My happy place is a state of mind where I am grounded in my gratitude.
Favorite TLM product in your home?
I love my Mexican serape blankets!!! I’m cuddled in them all the time, and they add such an earthy, grounded vibe to my home.
Best advice you’ve been given? Saying no makes room for the right yes.
MILCK, thank you so much for being a source of inspiration to us and for fighting for social justice around the world.