From the Fall 2003 Issue
Faze Interview: Bif Naked
the past thirteen years, iconoclast diva Bif Naked has fronted
bands in some of the toughest clubs in Canada, Europe and the
United States. With a voice that can go from croon to growl
and back again, her songs range from hard-core punk to dreamy
ballads to activist spoken word. She's about to release her
fifth CD, Essentially Naked on her own label, Her Royal Majesty's
Records. She's appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hosted
CBC's Zed TV, and starred in the romantic comedy Lunch with
Charles. She's a tattooed and pierced skateboarding, BMX bike
riding, coffee-drinking vegetarian punk princess who refuses
to be pigeonholed. One thing is clear: Bif Naked doesn't like
"I never say I'm a victim of violence,
because I don't believe in victims," says the 32-year-old
singer. "But a lot of people, instead of coming out with
the truth about things that have happened to them, are encouraged
to put it aside, to sweep it under the rug, or somehow think
it was their fault."
Bif is chewing pink bubble gum and talking about
one of her many charity projects, Stop The Violence/Face the
Music. The organization counsels and educates youth to find
non-violent alternatives to conflict. "When Stop the Violence
first approached me in 1995, it was a cause very close to my
heart," she says. "I realized it was something I could
do proactively to hopefully stop someone from going down the
same paths that I did."
Speaking out about taboo subjects is one of
Bif Naked's specialties. Her 1996 self-titled debut CD featured
a song "Tell on You" about her rape experience. The
emotions expressed are raw and vulnerable, but Bif's fighting
spirit comes through in the chorus: Please remember/I know who
you are/Someday, I'll have the strength to tell. "I have
nothing to hide," she says. "When you share the whole
human experience, especially with women, we can impart our opinions
and share our stories."
her tattooed forearms and goth/punk style, it's hard to believe
that Bif was bullied and beaten up twice by grade nine girls
in junior high. "It's quite possible I was being obnoxious,"
she admits, smiling. "I survived, but I think that our
society is more violent today than it was when I was in high
In 1997, Bif Naked's Rap Punk Pop Invitational
toured 18 Canadian cities to raise money for Stop the Violence,
with guests SNFU, Raggadeath, Glueleg, Ballroom Zombies and
Face The Pain. Bif also made a TV commercial with a toll-free
number for teens to call to find a counsellor in their area.
"An eye for an eye never works," she says, shaking
her head. "I think that (counselling) is rehabilitative,
and that it can shift thinking quickly."
A spiritual person, Bif practices yoga and meditation,
she doesn't own a television, and says “No” to drinking
and drugs. Based in Vancouver, she strives for health and clarity
since adopting a straight-edge lifestyle seven years ago. A
critic of consumer culture, she says she’d still be willing
to starve for her art: "As long as I can feed my dogs and
buy myself a canvas and make a painting, I couldn't care less."
"Most of the suffering on earth man causes
for himself, and it's all through ego, and it's all through
attachment and desire," says Bif. The song "Violence"
on her 1998 CD I Bificus warns how arrogance can be self-defeating:
It's not about me/It's not about you/It's not about them or
what they do/It's not about pride. "Usually the people
who are the most vain are the most insecure," she says.
"You have to find the will to get through it and the self-control
not to be retaliatory or vengeful."
it's not all Zen aphorisms and sprout salad. A long-time political
activist, Bif is adamant that each person can make a difference,
regardless of age. "I don't believe that teenagers today
are politically apathetic," she insists. "I think
our society is politically apathetic, and they would like it
if young people just watched television and ate chicken fingers
all day. You can be constantly bombarded with violent media,
or you can choose what to look at." Grabbing her handheld,
she scrolls through a list of activist websites dedicated to
civil disobedience and critical thought (see sidebar). Bif has
aligned herself with several organizations including Rock for
Choice, Lilith Fair, and the Buried Heart Society, which released
a CD single inspired by the 50+ missing women from Vancouver's
downtown East Side.
don't know what I can do other than be a loudmouth and tell
people to get off their ass," she says. "If you can
go do something mindful, even if it's just taking your dog to
the local nursing home, something good can come from that and
it grows and grows and becomes an unstoppable train."
Favourite Activism Sites
The Ruckus Society provides environmental and human rights
organizers with the tools, training, and support needed
to achieve their goals.
Earth First! is a front-line, direct action approach to
Your essential counterculture library, every RE/Search
book seeks to maximize creativity and freedom in a world
whose agenda is consumerism and control.
As a global organization, Greenpeace focuses on the most
crucial worldwide threats to our planet's biodiversity
A magazine of critical inquiry and social concern
A directory of over 33,000 non-profit and community organizations
in 165 countries.
Bif and Faze's Lorraine at the 2003 Much Music