Premiere: The Political Protest in Emily Afton’s Outspoken “The Veil”

A powerful reminder that silence is deafening and voting matters, Emily Afton’s “The Veil” is an outspoken political protest against not only privilege and ignorance, but also societal sedation and oppression.
Stream: “The Veil” – Emily Afton




‘The Veil’ is about how privilege and ignorance are dangerous, and how those who are dealt the most privilege get to stay asleep the longest.

It’s been getting harder and harder to ignore political discourse in our everyday, but why is that? Political science professors and students alike profess that “politics is life” – it affects everything from your rights and your safety, to the water you drink and the public transport at your disposal. So why does everything seem louder now? It must be more than just the age in which we found ourselves.

Emily Afton’s new single “The Veil” tackles this important question with thoughtful poise and infectious style. A powerful reminder that silence is deafening and voting matters, Afton’s dynamic performance is an outspoken political protest against not only privilege and ignorance, but also societal sedation and oppression.

Stand up and be heard, before it’s too late.

The Veil - Emily Afton

The Veil – Emily Afton

Who would have thought
Who could have imagined
It would all turn out this way
He came along
They had their hearts out
Out on their sleeves to be taken
And I watched as his words
His words took hold at dawn
Like a plague in the night
And I watched as he turned
Turned their fears into hate
Now I see fire in their eyes

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the Alex Mortensen-directed music video for “The Veil,” the opening single off Emily Afton’s forthcoming EP Consideration (out March 2020). Following 2016’s debut album Archetype, Consideration finds the San Diego-born, Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returning with wave after wave of compelling, immersive music. “The Veil” is a perfect example of Afton’s striking creativity at work: Not so much anti-Trump as it is anti-the forces that allowed a Trumpian figure to manifest and propagate, Afton’s song smartly speaks more to progressives and moderates on the left than it does to anyone else. It’s a reminder that together we win, divided we lose; that nothing happens if people stay silent; and that oppressive regimes eventually rob all of their rights, even if it starts with just some.

Listening to “The Veil,” I’m reminded of the poem First They Came, a powerful piece of post-Holocaust writing:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist…
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
Emily Afton

Emily Afton



Just as this poem warns of the impact of not speaking out, “The Veil” reminds us that we are powerless if we stay silent and allow others around us – whether in our lives, or just on the TV screen – to be discriminated against, no matter who they are, what they believe in, where they’re from, or what they look like. Afton’s chorus is simply stunning – a much-needed jolt to the senses, especially as we now find ourselves in another election year:

So don’t call this a bad dream now
Because while you are sleeping
they take everything away
Don’t tell me not to scream now
In my scream they heard
my life and couldn’t look away
They couldn’t look away

While “The Veil” looks and feels like it might have been written just yesterday, the song is actually three years old — written for the San Francisco  Women’s March following Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Its words pre-date the “Muslim ban,” family separation and the immigration detention facilities, an empowered ICE, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord… the list goes on.

Are we desensitized?

“‘The Veil’ is the opening track off Consideration, our EP coming out this March. I wrote this song three years ago when I was invited to play the Women’s March in San Francisco, just after Donald Trump was inaugurated,” Afton tells Atwood Magazine. “When I first performed it (for an estimated 40,000 people), it was only half finished; I was still figuring out what I was trying to express about what was happening in our country. It has been 3 years, and The Veil’s release coincides with another election cycle – another time when politics are at the forefront of our national consciousness.”

Afton continues, “‘The Veil’ is about how privilege and ignorance are dangerous, and how those who are dealt the most privilege get to stay asleep the longest. It’s about the place between facing the oppressor within myself as a white person while being dehumanized as a queer person in Trump’s America. It’s about learning when to use my voice, and how to scream loudly in the presence of injustice.”

“The video was shot by my friend Alex Mortensen in my hometown San Diego. We wanted to focus on the role of TV and the news cycle. I wanted the only two characters in the video to be myself and the TV, so as to highlight that this was MY perspective and to not speak for anyone else. We included images of women and girls screaming as a way to show the breaking of silence and awakening from societal sedation. It feels appropriate to release this as we experience the 2020 primary elections. When you use your voice, people are forced to see the human within you.”

When you use your voice, people are forced to see the human within you.

Who would have thought
Who could have imagined
That we could stoop so low
And now the curtain’s been drawn
The veil has been lifted
Now the truth we all know
We all know
That this isn’t a dream now
‘Cause while we were sleeping
they took everything away
Don’t tell me not to scream now
In my scream they heard
my life and couldn’t look away
They couldn’t look away
Ooh your voice is power, your voice is power
They couldn’t look away
Ooh your voice is power, your voice is power
They couldn’t look away



An evocative indie pop song with an ominous message, Emily Afton’s new music is as catchy as it is serious.

Her forthcoming Consideration EP is described as an expression of “being a woman and artist in today’s world.” The songs are the lens through which she sees herself and her peers in this moment – a moment fraught with distress and waning hope as Democrats see increasing infighting between presidential primary candidates’ divided factions. If we can’t come together as one party and one country – if we can’t get back to those American freedoms and ideals that everyone so desperately wants to believe in – then we’ll never get anywhere.

“The Veil” is a political protest because politics matters; because politics really is life, and it really does impact everyone. Maybe – even if it wasn’t right, it felt okay to be silent, once-upon-a-time. Silence is no longer an option today. Today, we lift the veil and speak out, with help from Emily Afton’s inspiring new song.

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Stream: “The Veil” – Emily Afton



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The Veil - Emily Afton

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com