There is something about the title of Bif Naked‘s latest album that sounds like such an amazing promise. FOREVER. To know that Bif will be out there making music, sharing her enchanted life, with her fans eternally! What a gift.
Bif Naked has been gracing the music world with her eclectic sound for 20 years, now. Born Beth Hopkins in New Delhi, India, Bif is one of Canada’s most cherished and beloved citizens. There is not much that Bif Naked has not accomplished. She is an activist, a poet, breast cancer survivor, a comic cartoonist, an actress, and, of course, a delightful singer.
On the heels of her acoustic album, Bif Naked Forever, we are extremely delighted to have Bif Naked visiting us today! We welcome Bif as part of our ’10 Questions With…’ series.
1. Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights – For me this album sounds of pure delight, an awakening–a treat for your diehard fans, as well as a great compilation to put out into the universe for next-generation fans. The last time I was this excited about an acoustic hits album was The Cure’s Acoustics Greatest Hits. Favourite songs done acoustically, with a new twist, are always a treat for fans. And the new studio tracks were the icing on the cake! I often wondered how it felt to have such an impressive canon of work at a young age. Could you give us some insights into what it has meant to you to put out a HITS album? What does the accomplishment mean to you?
I am so happy the acoustic record was enjoyed! Jacen (Ekstrom) and I had been doing acoustic performances across Canada for a couple years, because I preferred it. I love to sit and talk about the songs before we play’em, and Jacen and I get questions from the audiences, and sometimes even get them on the stage with us if they have something “pressing” they want to share, or do..it’s very intimate and so lovely, really….and the audiences kept asking for THOSE versions of the songs, and whether or not we would consider doing a special release to support the acoustic tours. I was so happy to do it! Jacen and I went into the studio with my long-time collaborator, Doug Fury, and the three of us really enjoyed playing them together. We brought Flavio Cirillo in for a couple tracks but there were very little drums. I was happy to write the new songs with Ryan Stewart because it is such a lovely process to write with him. It was so effortless and we really had a great connection in the songwriting. It was fun to do.
2. You’re probably extremely busy with your Forever release. Can your fans expect a full studio album from you anytime soon? And if there is one on the way, could you share some of its journey with us? And…Jakkarta? I’m taking a guess here. (-:
We made the dance record and have been sitting on it for two years. It remains my favorite secret! It was a fun project we did in the studio after we got off the “Promise” album tour. I had to do something completely out of left-field, emotionally, to deal with my (at that time) having been shattered again, in the love department. LOL! The “Jakkarta” Project was a lyrical departure for me..it was extremely sexualized and highly inappropriate. I think I was reaching out from loneliness. Now, it just sits there, winking at us with a fluttery eyelash…….But, We are also writing for a new record…although Doug Fury and I also have a “death metal” project. The rambunctiousness is very sincere and good.
3. I’m going to throw this one in here as a diehard Joss Whedon fan. I know there are other geeks out there like me. (-: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How cool was that? Any memories or fandom you’d like to share with our readers about your guest spot on Buffy?
Being able to perform on “Buffy” was a dream come true, like everything that happens… It was such a big year for us, and we did back-to-back tours with Lilith Fair, The Cult, Kid Rock, and were touring overseas in the off-season. “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, and “Buffy” appearances happened around the same time. The people we met were simply wonderful! Everyone was always so polite! The “Buffy” set had snacks and the guys were so impressed, and we got to take lunch with all the cast and crew, as well. It was a magical day for us and we always remembered it. SO fun! Lots of food!
4. In a recent interview (Bif Naked Rocks On–with Liberty Craig at Fresh Vancouver) you were quoted as saying, “My dad thinks I find a way to justify any bad things in my life.” I loved your response to that concept…that, of course, your positivity is justification. I have to tell you that, as a Tweeter, you’re a wonderfully uplifting port in any day’s storm. Your ACTION OF THE DAY and WORD OF THE DAY are little fortune cookies for myself, and I imagine, your other 88,000 followers. I have always believed that it’s easy to spread happiness…and you make it look even easier. Can you maybe share how you have come to maintain this enchanted life? Our readers would love to get a glimpse into your ability to surround yourself with joy.
Twitter is a very freeing place for people. It’s “safe” really…people say anything. I think this is important and twitter is, actually, a “utility” now (like a “telephone”). I love it! I am a huge, huge fan! I began with only a few hundred followers on twitter and it was a really safe space for me..for the followers. I think I was a bit shell-shocked from my life, cancer treatment and trying to navigate everything then… I was very isolated and very lonely during that time..and I would go deeper into my yoga practice. It was Complete Freedom, like floating in a bathtub. Yoga was healing me..healing my life and my body and my (then) broken heart and it was extremely natural for me to, simply, tweet “roll the shoulders down the back..take a deep breath in…” and the response was from people doing it WITH me in real time! I was enraptured! It (felt like) we were all healing together.. and it was so sweet for all of us. It helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone. Then, over time, My schedule changed and the people on it with me grew and moved on to other twitter routines. I used to have a “Food Of The Day” as well but over time, I feared this may be misinterpreted as “classist” or “elitist” due to some of the fruits and vegetables I chose are not available in many parts of Northern and Rural Canada…or they are too expensive. So, I wanted to be sure I was sensitive to this and eliminated the “Food of The Day”. However, I love to have an “Action” for the day for MYSELF as a reminder or a motivator…and a “Word” of the day was something I would write on my hand, in pen, before I walked out the door every day. I am an extremely optimistic person and I like to try and stay very positive in my life, regardless of what might be going on. Through positivity I have overcome every hardship.
5. You’re a spoken word poet. I have to say, I LOVED the title of your okenspay ordway I. It kind of made me giddy. You’ve also been known to write columns. The next question is for the writers. And…readers. Do you have any plans to try out novels? Is this something that has ever appealed to you? I began my interaction with words as a poet. For me, novels was a natural progression. I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about next-stepping to novel-writing?
I am so happy you enjoyed “Okenspay Ordway” LOL! No one else really seemed to like it, at the time (when it came out in, um..1996?) and I thought it was the funniest thing I ever recorded. I loved being able to say whatever I wanted and I had, and still have very strong opinions about politics, gender, women’s rights, human rights, animal rights, and food policies. I have a lot to say. I was able to use the spoken word album as a real form of socio-political expression and remain very happy I did that. As far as fiction writing, I do enjoy writing short stories and have many rather juvenile “voices” I enjoy writing in. My twitter account for my late babydog, @NICKNAKED was a perfect example of that. I was like his “ventriloquist”. I enjoyed it immensely. I was always planning to carry-on and continue it…but was so shattered after he died, that I have yet to bring myself to tweet “as his ghost”, or something.. I am not there, yet, I guess. Maybe a book instead? LOL!
6. This is a question writers tentatively ask one another. So imagine this question coming out tentatively. (-: How is your memoir for HarperCollins coming along?
I love to write. Writing my memoirs is a surprising process for me. I have always loved writing and loved to write. I will always write, can’t stop myself…songwriting always stemmed from my journals and poetry, anyway..so it is extremely natural and easy for me..though I write from some very dark memories, places, and events. I relive them when writing, so it can be a bit annoying, emotionally, to go to those hard places.I like to dig in that dirt, though…to get dirty..to get muddy from it. I like the work, and I am a flowery, descriptive writer. I love language! I love words and I love to describe. I never get tired of it! Some of the stories I have been writing are incredibly sad, though i try to make them somewhat funny. It is possible that only I will ever think they are funny and that they may not be appropriate for a normal book. It is unfolding and I am enjoying it very much. I like working with people and I am grateful for their input.
7. You have extremely eclectic taste in books. And possibly a bit of an obsession with them. (-: Like most lovers of the written word. What are you reading lately? Do you have any recent fave novels? Do you have any books on your bedside table?
It’s true I love books! I love to read and I love to learn. I was never much of a novel reader and read a lot of poetry and medical dictionaries most of my youth and adult life. I have enjoyed many different types of writers and wish I had more time to read. I do not watch television except the news in a hotel room, although I do like a “crime” show like Criminal Minds on American Television. I prefer no television and stacks of books everywhere. I have dozens of language guides and cherish them. Everything from Farsi to French to Cantonese to Hindi to Arabic! I love reading translations. I love reading everything: Arundhati Roy is a writer I enjoy. I like everyone from Fran Lebowitz to Gandhi to Henry Miller to Camus. Most people know I am a collector of Irving Layton poetry and of religious texts. I love it all! I love to read in the bedroom, even in the daytime with the breeze and the curtains blowing..By my bed there is a copy of “Perfumes” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, on one side…and on the other side there is a copy of “Bring Down The Chandeliers” by Tara Hardy, and four or five old copies of “Namarupa” magazine. I still sleep on a mat on the floor because my two dogs were going through all the stages of their lives with me and we could not have a bed or they might fall off. It works for me and I like the tatami mat or even my yoga mat to sleep on.
8. As a writer, I find that I have my fave albums that I listen to while writing. I know a lot of writers who need total silence in which to write. And I know some who never write without musical accompaniment. How does that work as a lyricist/songwriter? Is this a time for you to turn off the music and dig in? Or do you like to write lyrics while listening to music? And if so, what music sparks your creativity?
I love silence. I write best when everyone is quiet…or, sleeping…the city.. roommates..the band-mates..name it. I like the whole day to be over with…and then I get my time to write and go to those far away places. It’s how it works, for me.
SONG writing, however, is a completely different process from a completely different place. Sometimes I like to listen to the song I am writing….(if we put it on a disc for me or, for many years, on a cassette) I am a pentameter abuser and love to write lyrics. Lyrics are very fun to write. I never, ever run out of feeling challenged to come up with new ways to describe “love” or “pain”. I love songs about picking ourselves up, and dusting ourselves off, the best. I love love songs, too…but the recovery-from-heartache stuff is about “hope” and that is what I enjoy the most.
9. Your dogs? As one who forever loves his Golden Retriever, Franny, I love to ask others to share a few words about their beautiful family members. So, do you have any words to share with our readers about your beloved children?
I just lost my Maltese, Nicklas, eight weeks ago. He was sixteen years old and, likely, The Love of My Life. My Annastasia died in 2008, when she was ten. She was a Bichon Frise. The two of them, together, were my children. I miss them immeasurably. I love animals. I love them and know I will, again, be a mom to some sweet animals….but, at this time, I am still feeling very badly about the absence of Nicklas. It is unfolding. There are so many good, good people in this world that truly devote their lives to helping others and I have learned so much about love and compassion from many Animal rescuers as well as the wonderful animals they have helped.
10. Keep being you. You bring a lot of joy and a lot of hope to a lot of people. I cheated a bit with some of the questions–multiple questions–so I thought I would just use this space to thank you on behalf of all of our readers. Thank you for spreading the sunshine. You’re an inspiration. We look forward to hearing more from Bif Naked. We know it will all be good. Thank you.
Very nice of you, Kevin, to include me in your “Questions” series. Very cool.
Bif Naked’s website, BIFNAKED.COM will be back soon. Bookmark it now. Or, fill out the re-launch notification form and you will be emailed once it goes live.
I highly recommend that you follow Bif on Twitter. She will put some much needed light into your day!
Pick up FOREVER wherever albums are sold!