BIF NAKED: Reigning CHAMPION of Canadian Indie Rock
You have to be exceptionally talented to have a long, successful and respected career using the moniker, BIF. But add the surname, NAKED, and suddenly it all makes sense! There’s only one BIF NAKED, the New Delhi born, Winnipeg-raised rock rebel who has been one of Canada’s most unique and prolific artists since her debut in 1994. Since then, Bif’s enjoyed an 11-album career that’s included such gold and platinum-selling releases as Purge (feat: “I Love Myself Today”) and I,Bificus (feat: the #1 hit “Spaceman”). With a new album, Champion, slated for release this summer and the angst-laden new single, “JIM,” already earning rave reviews, BIF is back in all her tattooed glory and confident the new album is her defining work.
In anticipation of her upcoming sold-out show at The Sanctuary February 28th, BIF took time to chat with GoBeWeekly.com about her album, her mother-in-law and her new line of CBD products.
GoBe: The last time we spoke you had just returned to Vancouver after honeymooning in France with your new husband (guitarist Snake Allen) and mother-in-law. Are you still friends?
BIF: (Laughs) I talk about it all the time during my acoustic shows. I’m not going to say I admonish Snake for it, but I will say I take the piss out of him every single chance I get for having my mother-in-law join us on a romantic honeymoon in Paris.
GoBe: It’s good to see it’s all working out.
BIF: I’m very lucky (laughing)
GoBe: You’re back with a new album, Champion, and a new single, “Jim.” Love the outfit in the video by the way. The red looks great on you, gorgeous as always.
BIF: God bless you.
GoBe: When you’re getting ready to hit the road and tour again, what’s the time investment look like to be fully prepared? How much time do you have to spend rehearsing, going over catalogue, working out the band, etc?
BIF: It kind of depends. For example, it’s very easy for these acoustic tours, which are really my favourite way, because I get to do poetry and read from my book. I take questions from the audience, sometimes we get audience members on stage much to Snake’s chagrin, he’s quite shy. Basically, we rehearse every day, because I live with him, and we live in a studio.
GoBe: When did you start working on the new album?
BIF: We started working on the album about a year ago. I started recording with (producer0 Doug Fury, who I wrote songs like “Tango Shoes” with and played with from 1996 to about 2006. He built his own studio in Vancouver and promised his wife he would stay off the road. Going back to our songwriting roots with Doug has been enormously rewarding. I believe the new record, which will officially be released at the end of the summer, is hopefully the work that will define my career. For me, artistically, I feel it surpasses anything else I’ve made.
GoBe: That’s a bold statement given the broad swath of creativity you’ve displayed over the years. What makes you feel that way?
BIF: I feel kind of like I’m a different person than I was 25 years ago. I was a young girl when I made the first record, and followed it up with I, Bificus and then Purge. I was just a completely different individual. I’m sure everyone can say that on a 25 year trajectory of their adult life. I feel that the subject matters that I tackle now, although sometimes still enmeshed in heartache and themes I enjoy writing about, there are a couple songs I’m really proud of. I feel like I’ve had a new baby like no other baby that’s come before. There’s a song about refugees, there’s a song about wanting to die, a song about heartbreak, and then a lot of songs that give a nod to absolutely being overwhelmed in love. This first one, “Jim,” we decided to lead with this single because it wasn’t the fastest, hardest song, not the softest song, but I felt that definitely it was sonically one I wanted to set the bar with.
GoBe: Sonically you may have set the bar, but visually you really set a tone for the song’s message. You look pretty angry in that video, swinging the gloves hard and taking a few below the belt shots in the process. Who inspired the rage in that song?
BIF: (Laughing) You know I always say, everyone has a “Jim” in their life, the villain, the Judas we all kind of have to live with. Obviously the theme of the video is the age old story of love betrayal. But truthfully, it could be about anyone. The video I really like because, not since the “Moment of Weakness” video have I really done the storyline theme, the “hell has no fury like a woman scorned” kind of video. And the fact the story was told backward was just great fun to envision and make happen.
GoBe: You’re a heritage artist here in Canada, certainly going back to my early roots in radio you were always a part of the playlist on HTZ-FM back in the day. We know the state of radio and the challenges to getting airplay when you’re a heritage artist releasing new music. Does airplay matter than much to you these days? Fans always seem able to find the music of artists they love in other ways.
BIF: In many ways you are absolutely correct, about rock radio in particular. Because I have been in the Canadian music industry since the early 90s, I have a deep affection for Canadian rock radio. I love everyone who works in radio because I’ve known everyone since I was a young artist. I was so supported and so encouraged by many of my friends who are still in radio. It’s just plain fun to still see everyone and still try to work with everyone. There aren’t as many stations anymore. Certainly the formats have all had to change a bit. Definitely my audience will always find my music.
GoBe: I don’t think it’s changed enough. Look at country music, and how a song like “Old Town Road” has advanced the format and basically forced it to concede that country music can be defined in many ways. Rock still has this issue with what is indie and heritage and modern and classic rock, and often the bias prevents artists like you from being played alongside the very artists you probably inspired.
BIF: From your mouth to God’s ears. Of course, naturally, I’d love it if any one of the stations would spin the track.
GoBe: I understand you’ve got a new line of MonaLisa Healing CBD-based products on the market. Knowing a bit about your medical history thanks to your book, is this an extension of your experiences with post-surgery meds and treatments?
BIF: Definitely. I had turned my face away from all things drug and alcohol in my early 20s. I had to become a straight edge. There was no way I would be able to maintain 200 shows a year and keep my voice. I’m a chatty Cathy, as soon as I had a tablespoon of beer I’d talk too much, among other things that would happen. I could never take pain medications, even for wisdom teeth. The truth is, when I was in breast cancer treatment, a lot of women I met in the chemo wards and treatment facilities, they were using cannabis to mitigate the side effects from their symptoms. They were often taking CBD products and oils, before legalization. The grey area still exists with CBD. It’s really a food supplement, a health supplement. You can’t not have a conversation about CBD without including cannabis. In the last year I learned more of my friends and family were using CBD to kind of fight different things in their lives. I couldn’t avoid all these little signs. I did some research and found there wasn’t a product I felt confident in. There are no real CBD cops to ensure quality. With MonaLisa, they were endeavoring to make a product with organic hemp and utilize the organic farmers we knew in B.C. and the Okanagan to make isolate to put in organic coconut oil that was also vegan. I just couldn’t help it. I just loved the product. It was the first time I put my name behind a product in my whole career. I believe in it.
GoBe: Organic vegan coconut oil bud medicinal products don’t exactly sound rock and roll Bif.
BIF: (Laughing) Well it’s plant medicine. In a way, the only way we’ll be able to keep rocking and rolling into our golden years is to take care of ourselves. I look at Tina Turner, for example, as my benchmark and I go, I wanna be that bad bitch when I’m 75. Why not. Gwen Stephani, she’s 50, look at her. How can the rest of us find ways to do it forever.
GoBe: For the show coming up in Niagara, what can fans expect on this tour.
BIF: This show is really going to be special, because we have Delyn Grey opening up, and she’s the first artist I’ve ever managed. Delyn to me is the future. Her voice is otherworldly. I wish I could sing like her. She’s dark, her lyrics are factual and deep. I would do anything to get her in front of people, so I hope everyone comes early! As far as my show goes, I always have a lot of laughs and tears and stories. When we do these spoken reading and live performance shows, they’re long shows. We perform songs the way they were written, acoustically. Sometimes it gets very funny. My husband loves wine, so I make sure he has lots of it because I abuse him verbally all night. I keep threatening Snake that I’m going to be doing interpretive dance, which is his version of hell. At the end we’ll have books, and I like meeting everyone after the show. I hope it moves people.
To view the new video for “Jim,” click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0SKqhAKQy0
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