Canadian rockstar Bif Naked will hit the stage next Saturday (Aug. 15) for the New Westminster Pride Street Party.
The Record caught up with the newly-engaged Vancouverite - born Beth Torbert - ahead of her upcoming show.
Dressed in fitted white pants, a “Dare to Break Rules” T-shirt and some black pumps, Naked opened up about her fiancé, her biggest pet peeve and what Pride means to her.
Why do you think they picked you as their headliner?
For whatever reason, I have a great fan base in the queer community and it’s something I’ve always had. I think a lot of the organizers for some of the events are all our age, they grew up listening to my stuff. Perhaps it’s from being a loud mouth and being outspoken and always loving everybody, and encouraging everyone to be confident and proud of themselves. I just think that must be why. Either that, or it’s my cooking. People heard about my good cooking.
You’re known for your edgy-punk rock style, but your last album is acoustic. What can fans expect of your New West show?
Well, we love doing more acoustic stuff than not because it doesn’t scare the children… No, I’m just kidding (laughs). I just think acoustic does mean no mosh pit. As time goes on, I think that a lot of people, even though they can identify me as a rocker chick, a tough chick and all these preconceived labels, or assumptions people make, Tango Shoes and Spaceman, Lucky, songs like that, are always requested and they’re pop songs. For a show like this, I think it’ll be fun. It’s fun to come and perform at a street festival in the first place.
What does Pride mean to you?
It’s self-love, really, more than it is self-worth, more than it is self-esteem. It’s about having faith in your beliefs, in your ethics and your philosophies, and faith in your own decisions for your own choices and your lifestyle. I think Pride is the perfect word that is utilized for this celebratory expression of a wonderful community and good lives.
With the U.S. Supreme Court decision paving the way for gay marriage in all 50 states earlier this summer, does Pride take on special significance for you this year?
Absolutely. Obviously it should be like that all over the world and getting your rights in the Charter of Rights is something that should be available to everyone. You know, the work in many ways is just beginning and there’s been a lot of triumphs. Those small victories really do assist people who feel defeated, whether they’re straight or queer, and it enables people to feel like they can keep running. It’s like being able to take a big sip of water and keep running your marathon.
Your life has been a bit of a rollercoaster – you’ve battled breast cancer, went through a divorce, had near kidney failure and heart surgery. Whether it’s on social media or in person, you have such a positive outlook on life. Where does that come from?
(Laughs) Because I took a crap today and I had a wonderful coffee and I’m meeting you for the first time, and we saw our neighbours, and I got to pet a dog on our way here, and we found parking, you know, and my credit card didn’t get declined. Anything in life that is happening is a really positive thing every day. I think we have to check in with ourselves and remember what’s really important.
You’re newly engaged. Talk a little bit about that.
Well this kid here (points to fiancé Steve Allen), was my guitar player’s best friend … I met him once very briefly before, but when he walked into my Canada Day rehearsal in 2013, my dog had just croaked, I had gone through a terrible divorce, I was in menopause, I had no ovaries, I had a big dent in my tit … I was done. I was not looking for anybody and I was just planning a trip to go to Paris … My dad was in palliative care. I was going to go live with them for a month and then go to France, never to return. This guy walks into my rehearsal. I was like, ‘really God? I have two shows and then I’m gone, what are you doing?’… It was amazing. The sky opened up and the angels sang and there was a glow around him and I couldn’t believe it.
You’ve written a memoir, which is expected to be released sometime next year. What kind of stories did you put down on paper?
A lot of childhood stuff, adolescent stuff … I was a runaway, I had quite a life of misadventure as a result. Lots of the band stuff and that was lots of fun. I don’t want to give too much away about the ending (laughs) … It winds up revealing so much about ourselves to us that we may have either repressed or didn’t realize, you know. It was an interesting process for sure.
When you look back now at your career that spans over two decades, how does it make you feel?
I feel very lucky. I’m lucky that I even had a chance to be able to feed my dogs and myself this long, and that really is the bottom line. Because of our culture and our insatiable appetite for TV stars and famous people, people can’t differentiate between a famous person and a self-employed starving artist. Every singer/ songwriter in Canada does not have Kim Kardashian money, but that is the myth.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who speed. I’m the hall monitor from hell. You do not want to be behind me in a car… My mother was a driver’s ed instructor and a bus driver. I just get infuriated by people who don’t use their indictor, rolling stops … I always say, ‘I wish I was a cop.’