Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco

MILCK

Wed, November 15, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Van Buren

Phoenix, AZ

Reserved: Tickets are $42.50 in advance | $2.50 increase day

This event is all ages

To RSVP to the official Facebook event, click here.

Tickets are also available by calling 866-468-3399

Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco
“My last record was very inward-looking,” says Ani DiFranco. “I was pregnant and then raising a screaming infant. But now that kid is about to turn four, so I got out of the weeds of personal space and started looking outward again, being more engaged, more big ‘P’ Political. As an artist, I like to be out in the world, and what initially compelled me was to try to push society to a better place. So when I’m not in heartbreak or motherhood mode, that’s where you’ll naturally find me.”

With her twentieth studio album, Binary, the iconic singer/songwriter/activist/poet/DIY trendsetter returns to territory that brought her to the world’s attention more than twenty-five years ago. One of the first artists to create her own label in 1990, she has been recognized among the feminist pantheon for her entrepreneurship, social activism, and outspoken political lyrics. At a time of global chaos and confusion, DiFranco is kicking ass and taking names, with a set of songs offering a wide range of perspective and musical scope.

She describes a moment during the writing of “Play God,” an unblinking pro-choice battle cry, as a particular breakthrough. (A live version of the song was included in the anti-Trump “30 Days, 30 Songs” campaign alongside tracks from Death Cab for Cutie, Aimee Mann, Franz Ferdinand, and more.)

“When I wrote the line ‘You don’t get to play god, man/I do,’ I paused and thought, ‘Can I say that?,’ “ she says. “It’s not the first time I’ve thought that, but it’s been a while. And in that moment, I thought, ‘I’m back, mothafuckas!’”

“When you make a record about family and relationships, people assume you’re mommy now and you’ve lost your edge, and it’s going to be all buttercups from here on. So that line had the feeling of ‘Take that! My kid is sleeping right now and I want to talk about some shit!”

On Binary, DiFranco tackles the challenge and necessity of teaching non- violence with “Pacifist’s Lament” and the need for empathy in “Terrifying Sight.” Remarkably, though, these songs—recorded, in her usual fashion, in a couple of short full-sprint sessions spread across several years—were all written prior to the 2016 elections and attendant political turmoil.

“I’m not surprised,” says DiFranco. “Over twenty-five years, I’ve found that my songwriting is often full of premonition. It shows me, in a deep and spooky way, how we know things on levels below consciousness. I write songs and then they happen, and later I realize what they’re about. I’m just happy to have some good tools in my toolbox to address what’s happening now—the feminist diatribes are turned up nice and high on this record!”

She notes that Binary’s title track is key to her intention on this project. “I always title a record from the song that seems to be at its core,” she says. “An underlying theme in the songs, and in the feminism I want to engage society with, is the idea that autonomy is a fallacy—nothing exists except in relationship to something else. We are, in some senses individuals with individual liberties and unique powers, but that’s only a surface story.”

Though this concept is closely tied up in our present-day obsession with technology (“Sitting alone at home, staring at a screen, you can’t really know anything, because knowing is engaging,” she says), DiFranco also reveals a growing connection to nature and the physical world.

“Every year on Goddess’ Green Earth, I understand my relationship to it more,” she says. “My early songs were all human drama. I don’t think I noticed the bigger picture at all—I was transfixed by power dynamics between people. Now I see that it’s largely the providence of women to really embody nature, so I do think I’m getting back to basics, and it’s a shift for me.”

The backbone of Binary’s sound is DiFranco’s long-time rhythm section of bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Terence Higgins, but on much of the album, the trio is augmented with some all-star guests. “I knew I wanted to involve some of my brilliant friends this time out,” she says. “We made some calls and got a party going. That was the idea, to reach out and have some other spirits enter.” When it came time to mix Ani turned things over to Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, Pearl Jam), the result a bold sonic imprint elevating the songs to a new level in her canon.

Virtuoso violinist Jenny Scheinman and keyboard wizard Ivan Neville both join in for more than half of the record; “they are so captivating and they elevate my shit whenever they come near it,” says DiFranco. Other contributors include the legendary Maceo Parker, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and Gail Ann Dorsey, longtime bassist for David Bowie. New Orleans resident DiFranco takes special pride in the Crescent City funk spearheaded by natives Higgins and Neville on a number of the tunes. “Their souls are of this place,” she says. “The feel they bring is something they got in utero.”

For the better part of 2016, DiFranco beat the drum for voter turnout on her “Vote Dammit!” tour, focusing on registering and inspiring people to vote. In the days following the election, fans turned to her for guidance with renewed earnestness, anxious to hear music and wisdom from the longtime activist. Ani encouraged fans to take political action and did the same herself, participating in the Women’s March on Washington and performing at the official Women’s March after party benefitting Planned Parenthood with The National and Sleater-Kinney.

Binary, of course, is being released into a world in which music distribution and consumption have transformed rapidly and dramatically. For DiFranco, a true pioneer in the music industry with her Righteous Babe label, it’s a time to reconsider the possibilities and ambitions of her business.

“While I was precedent-setting at one time with Righteous Babe and my indie crusade, I feel like, in the time it took me to nurse another baby into being, I’ve fallen behind,” she says. “The universe and technology have continued to evolve, and the idea of harnessing technology and crowd- sourcing everything—money, knowledge, revolution—is a very powerful concept that I’m ready to get more involved with. Righteous Babe is starting to grow now into something that will hopefully become avant-garde once again- more of a collective, more dynamic.”

“I’m trying to figure it out daily,” says Ani DiFranco. “Just like always.”
MILCK
MILCK
There’s a lot of fight inside MILCK. After a decade of quiet independent releases and tireless gigs around her native Los Angeles, the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and poet MILCK confidently carried a generational anthem in the form of “Quiet.” Originally penned in 2015 with frequent collaborator Adrianne Gonzalez, the song provided a clarion call for people of all races, creeds, and colors who have suffered and survived gallantly in the face of trauma, trials, and tribulations with resounding piano chords and shuddering, soulful delivery.

“It’s unbelievable to think now, but I was initially told to hold the song,” she recalls. “I couldn’t keep compromising anymore though. It’s my story as a survivor of abuse. I was finally letting myself out of the chains. Recording ‘Quiet’ was a very genuine moment of therapy for me. It’s very real. I thought if the honesty healed me, maybe it can heal someone else? After the election, I said, ‘Fuck you’ and shared it.”

She shared it in the most beautiful way possible. Traveling to the historic January 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., MILCK teamed up with 25 female singers—whom she had never met before—and delivered seven a cappella flashmob performances of “Quiet” on the streets. A fan video went viral, racking up over 15 million plays in two days. By the end of the week, she took the stage on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for another riveting rendition as VICE, NPR, Refinery29, BuzzFeed, Associated Press, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and more extolled her. It ignited the #ICantKeepQuiet social media project as everyone from Emma Watson, Debra Messing, and Tegan & Sara to Tom Morello and Denis Leary shared the video. The initiative’s merchandise benefits the Step Up chapter in L.A., which provides after school and mentorship programs for underprivileged girls 13-18.

Crafting “cathartic pop” rooted in classical training and inspired by a pastiche of artistic muses ranging from Hemingway and Maya Angelou to modern art, this style defines her debut EP for Atlantic Records. “Throughout all of those years struggling, a major label never felt like it could be a reality,” she admits. “I’m just being myself, and I don’t want to assume that I can sing for everyone. I want to sing what I feel. If people connect, that’s awesome.”

MILCK has been singing for as long as she can remember. Born to Chinese immigrants in the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes, she enrolled in classical piano at six-years-old and opera classes at the age of eight. Honing her talents during high school, the budding artist headed to Berkeley for college, promising she “would try pre-med” and allaying some of her doctor father’s worries about a potential career in music. Inspired by everything from Frédéric Chopin, Tori Amos, and Elton John to Imogen Heap, Portishead, Radiohead, and Massive Attack, she experienced something of an awakening in the college’s underground piano rooms.

“I realized I could sing and play piano at the same time,” she goes on. “That opened the door to writing pop songs. I felt like I could finally express myself. I’m grateful for my classical foundation. The amazing thing about opera is I learned how to use my vocal cords to sing for hours without getting tired, but rather, becoming stronger. I had all of these tools and decided I would graduate, move to L.A., and get my ass kicked by the music industry.”

Performing under her given name, Connie Lim, she paid her dues tenfold. Throughout the next 8 years, she successfully financed an indie release via Kickstarter and built a sturdy foundation all the while weathering crumbling business partnerships and a series of obstacles. In 2016, she re-emerged under the name MILCK—her last name Lim spelled backwards and first two initials. “I wanted to establish myself, so I did MILCK,” she explains. “It uses the name I received from my ancestors, but I’m changing it and making it my own, so I can actually be who I am. It’s taking accountability.”

She made waves with “Devil Devil,” which went on to receive high-profile syncs in Lucifer and The Royals as it racked up nearly a million Spotify streams and over 1 million YouTube views. However, the stark and shuddering, yet disarmingly catchy “Quiet” finally needed to be heard. “I was pretty sad,” she remembers. “My management disappeared, and I felt like I hit rock bottom. I said to my boyfriend, ‘I lost my team.’ He looked at me and went, ‘But honey, you are the team.’ That really shifted my perspective. Shortly after that, I released ‘Quiet.’ Hemingway wrote, “You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” MILCK is quiet no more, and her honesty possesses the power to heal.

“I’d rather express than impress,” she leaves off. “When people listen to me, I want them to feel empowered. I want a catharsis. My ideal situation as an artist is to harness my voice so it becomes like the purest form of water. When I sing in a room, I want to wash people and the walls of all the pain and shit they deal with. I come from a family of doctors. Doctors are healers. I want to be a sonic healer.”
Venue Information:
The Van Buren
401 W. Van Buren St.
Phoenix, AZ, 85003
http://thevanburenphx.com/
Privacy Policy