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Welcome back everybody – back to another West Vancouver podcast. I am so honoured and privileged to have this amazing artist, singer and musician with us here today. She calls herself the ‘Super Beautiful Monster’. I prefer to call her a friend – but she is so much more than that. Please welcome the spectacular Bif Naked.
BIF: We are friends. And we go back. We go way back. That is so fun. I love it. And I love the magazine, obviously – and of course, now the podcast. What you guys have always done with the community has just been incredible. It’s always fun to keep up with what’s going on here. I’m just thrilled to be on your show.
CAT: Well we love you too. And you’re always looking good – and you’re always up to something fun. You were just back here in Vancouver recently to help support the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball gala event. And whenever we manage to get you on stage, we get way more than just a music performance. We get ‘you’ the real person – the person who talks about her life and her philosophies and your positivity. You share so much more than music. And you’re also a cancer survivor and can speak to that experience as well. You have that connection.
BIF: It was amazing to be there. The gala was virtual for the past two years, so it was an honour to be asked this year. They do so much and raise wonderful amounts of money for cancer research. There’s the new lodge, which I toured the day before, so it was a real full-circle moment for me.
CAT: Now, some people are lucky to get to know this side of you, but most people know you as Bif Naked music star. How did you ‘assemble’ Bif the character? How did you grow up to become this famous person? Tell us where it all began?
BIF: Well, you know, I am a performing arts kid. My parents were just regular academics who put their three daughters in ballet and dance, theatre and spoken poetry, and art festivals – like a lot of art festivals across Canada. And I just really loved it.
So I think it’s always been in my blood. And then, in university, I fell into being in a punk rock band as a vocalist. And I had no plans at all, no training, no plan at all. I always say you didn’t require a lot of talent to be in a punk rock band – you just needed to have a whole lot of heart. And it just kind of kept happening.
And eventually, I became a solo artist. Bif Naked was already a nickname that I had from the early days. It was a punk rock stage name that I kind of donned because all the guys had, you know, provocative stage names – so that set me apart. I love what I do. I’m very, very lucky.
CAT: You mentioned university – but you were also given a great honour recently. And you’ve also got an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University (SFU) as well. Tell us about that.
BIF: That was just such a joy. My dad was still alive in 2013 when the University of the Fraser Valley gave me an honourary degree in letters. So he was very proud. We lost him to prostate cancer shortly after. But my parents were both academics. They both had Master’s degrees.
So in 2020, I was lucky enough to get an honorary degree from SFU in Fine Arts. We’ll finally be able to celebrate that convocation ceremony in person at the beginning of May (as it was delayed due to Covid).
Being able to have these accolades like this – it just makes my mother so proud, and for me, I could die happy.
CAT: You are also an actor. How do you like acting compared to music? Do they play an equally important role in your life?
BIF: I would say it was the early 2000s. I was in a couple of feature films, and I enjoyed it immensely. Nicholas Lea was my co-star along with Ching Wan Lau in Lunch With Charles. And then another film I was able to do was Crossing with Crystal Buble. And it was just, you know, it was just fun. I think that my first love will always be performing live [on stage] and being in a band.
CAT: The album SuperBeautifulMonster. That was really big for you and included your hit single ‘I Love Myself Today’. Now I always hear bands and artists kind of complain about their ‘hits’ because they’re stuck singing them forever. Audiences will not forgive you if you don’t sing your big hits. Are you still in love with your big singles?
BIF: You know what, I love to do it, and I love singing it. We do it as the finale every single show, and I swear I always will because it leaves everybody on a high note. Really it does. It’s a recognizable song for people. They like singing the words back. We can rock out to that song. It is a positive high energy song.
CAT: You were really ahead of the curve. Everybody’s into ‘body positivity’ now and learning to love themselves more – being more spiritual, maybe. I think you really amplified that message. You told everybody, “we’re gonna be loud and proud”. You started that off. Where do you think we are in the world right now in terms of all this. Does music still lead the way in terms of social change?
BIF: Oh, absolutely. Just like in the 60s or even 50s. Nothing’s really changed in that regard. Protest music has always been at the forefront of the Billboard charts. And, you know, it’s not just love songs. I think young people today are very interested in social justice. They’re interested in climate justice. And definitely, music and the arts will always reflect that.
CAT: So we’re still categorizing everybody a little bit. But you are a woman in the music business. Things are changing, but traditionally that’s been a different experience. So tell us, do you think it has gotten easier for women in music today? Do you think it’s gotten harder? Give us some advice?
BIF: Well, I think honestly, that my generation, so I guess Generation X, I think that we were still taking the brunt of all the garbage treatment. It was very misogynistic and sexist, but we had no choice except to roll with it and just carry on. And if we wanted to, you know, be considered half as good, we had to rock twice as hard. And I think as a result of that, it made us tough. And it made us very, very resilient. We all had to develop coping techniques – like having a sense of humour, being very flexible, and just being a little more easygoing. I’m not sure that that is available to young women today.
You know, there are a lot of young bands who will, I guess, if they don’t feel the audience is being polite to them, they will stop the show and leave the stage. I can’t get behind that at all. I manage young artists in Canada, and that would never fly. Unless, you know, they were in danger in any way. But I didn’t have that opportunity. We were not allowed to stop the show. So, as a result, we would make a lot of jokes. The show must go on, as they say. The older I get, the more easygoing I am, truthfully. And I basically think everything is funny. I am very relaxed. I don’t pay attention. I don’t take it on. I don’t take on negativity in any way.
CAT: I can honestly say I’ve never seen you be negative. I’ve never seen you be angry – unless, of course, you were supposed to ‘act’ angry. Like at the opening of the new Hard Rock Casino Vancouver back in 2013. They wanted you to smash this guitar at the ribbon-cutting. You were supposed to be this angry, stereotypical punk rocker. But you were so nice, you were smiling. You didn’t want to hurt the guitar. It was hilarious.
BIF: You know what – the thing with the Hard Rock was, (laughing) I could not break that guitar. I could not break it no matter how hard I hit it. And then I just felt bad. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to smash the guitar. I felt, you know, they’re expensive. I didn’t want to do it. I had too much respect for it.
CAT: Well, there’s your positivity coming through again. You just light up a room. Your spirituality shows. Even on social media. You greet the day with enthusiasm. How do you do it?
BIF: You know what, I think that even though my parents were missionaries (they were Christian missionaries), they did raise us with the option and the opportunity to explore any and all religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, Hari Krishna, Judaism, anything we wanted.
I believe that all paths lead to God. And God doesn’t have to be an entity. It can just be a good orderly direction, as they say. As long as you have a positive outlook and a happy heart, you’re already in Heaven. Just being able to take a deep breath, and go back to that type of thinking, is imperative. It’s important for us spiritually as individuals.
Whether they are our family or at our work, or even strangers out in the world – if we can have a heart that’s full of positivity and love, we’re going to naturally spread that.
CAT: That’s amazing. And it takes a lot of effort to maintain that kind of attitude every day and do something new. And speaking of new, you have a new album coming out, right?
BIF: I do. And it’s very exciting. We’ve been working on it for a couple of years. It’s called Champion. It started off in one direction, and we thought we would put it out in 2020. Then, of course, by the time spring came around in 2020, it was very obvious that there was a global pandemic. And we were not able to get behind it. I just didn’t feel it with everything going on in the world. And then, when the summer started to unfold, there was just a racial uprising and so much social unrest. I just thought, yeah, the world needs to focus on all these important issues.
And then we just waited and kept writing and kept tweaking the songs that we had and wound up writing, I don’t know, 30 more songs. So now I’m hoping to put it out. It’s a lot bigger and bubbly-er than when we first started. So I’m very excited.
CAT: So, as we wrap up here today, I want to ask you: where will you be five years from today?
BIF: I’ll be in a mini skirt and heels doing a concert.
CAT: Ha. We love it. And we will be right there cheering for you too. Thank you so much for being here today.
BIF: Oh, thank you so much for having me.