:bif bam thank you mam':
BiG THANX TO CHRISTIANNA
FOR THIS ARTICLE
Looking past the pierced and tattooed surface to get to the Naked truth.
Bif Naked has been sober for three years. This, despite playing
in bars night after night and often receiving cases of beer as partial
payment for performances. Bif, who is now 28, says she just decided
to quit. "I had had enough shitty relationships, it was just time.
About six months later I quit smoking, which I loved. I think
about it every day and I always will. But I made a decision to
just not do it and just to be a straight edge.
To make this change, Bif drew support from one of her closest female
friends and a man in her life who didn't drink. This experience
likely helps her to understand the legions of young women who write
her fan letter saying how much they depend on her. "It is like
being a role model and when you're forced into that position you
do have a responsibility not to fuck around. Whether you like it
or not. I didn't have fans that young until I'd already quit drinking
and I'm relieved. I was a very loud drunk in front of a bunch of
14-year-old girls. It's just not cool."
Bif credits her fan mail for helping to keep her in check although
she says it can be overwhelming at times. "They look to me to validate
some of their behaviour and the only thing I can do is just be honest
and go 'Well that's not what i'd do.' So I owe it to them to be
everything that they expect, but also within the boundaries of my life choices."
It's no wonder that the underage crowd has plucked Bif out of the
seemingly endless stream of female solo artists. Young women look
up to Bif because she is a real person. Her pierced and tattooed
surface does not give a complete picture. She believes in the notion
that women can be strong and in control, but do not have to give
up the frivolous things in life. For example, after a seven-week
tour of the Austria, Germany and Sqitzerland, she ran out of the
Helena Rubenstein lip-gloss that she had bought while in Europe.
She went everywhere in Canada looking for it, "I even went to
and they always follow me around like I'm a shoplifter." Unfortunately,
Bif has has to resort to her old standby--"Anything by Guerlaine
with a matching nail polish".
Outside the folk stream, few mainstream singers are willing to cover
absolutely any topic. From huge political and moral issues like
abortion, to personal experiences like adoption and divorce, no
subject is off limits to Bif. "I guess I've never been the kind
of person who believes in hiding anything 'cause everyone is the
same. Nobody talks about periods, I will, I don't care. I get
mine, they get theirs, whatever. With me being adopted I don't
think any subjet is taboo. The society we live in is prudish and
a lot of things aren't discussed that should be."
Being the focal point of the band, and being female has put her
in some strange situations. "I've been doing it for so fucking
long I don't even remember what it was like before. I guess before
I was in high school. I don't know, I've always been the sunger
of a band so I think no matter what gender you are, if you're the
band's ainger you're always going to be the center of attention.
Unless you're Eddie Van Halen or something like that," she says.
Then she described something that would never have happened if she
had been a male singer. "We played a summer show--this was when
I was still drinking--and I was wearing our band's t-shirt and threew
it to the crowd. Every time I go back to the same city today, this
one guy who has a photograph of that--and I'm in my fuckin' bra--big
whoop, the guy thinks he' so powerful. But every time i go there
he gets this really evil look on his face and goes 'Aha look what
I have,' and always tries to intimidate me with this picture of me in my bra."
Because she has been performing for so many years, Bif has watched
the number of female artists increase, and doesn't have the respose
you might expect when discussing this trend. "It was better before.
Now there's so many female singers that it's really not taken seriously.
People think it's the opposite, they think that now women are being
heard. In my very personal experience I find that I'm not taken
as seriously as I used to be when I was 20, when there were very
few women." She cites the same evolution with any trend, notably
grunge. "Any 35-year-old with a skateboard had a band, so now it's
like 'Oh you're a folk singer.' No actually, I'm trying to be a rock chick."
Despite this, Bif finds no fault with Sarah McLachlan's annual showcase
of female musicians, Lilith Fair. "Sarah is in a difficlut position
as the figurehead of a festival that she started out of the goodness
of her heart. She can try her damndest to be innovative and include
all different style of music, but you can't please everyone. No
matter what she does she's going to get shit on. I don't think
she's trying to exclude hard-ass chicks from her roster. I just
think it works out the way it works out"
She also credits McLachlan for the amount of work she devotes to
running a festival of that scale. "Even on my level with touring
in Europe and here, there is a lot of politics involved with the
amount of bands on your show or who's going to support. I mean
there's a lot of business bullshit that is a part of everything.
I can't imagine the stress that she and her co-workers are constantly
under when they plan those things."
On her tours, bif has noticed major distintions in what is popular
in different parts of the globe. she says Europe is the most unusual,
but again realizes that everyhing moves in cycles. "it's very,
very eye-opening to go over there and not hear a rock song on the
video channel. It's Aqua, the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls and
that's fucking' it. For us, female artists are the dime a dozen
schlock that's coming up, and over there it's all techno artists.
It'll happen again with the next trend of music. It happened with
grunge, it happened when Rancid became popular, suddenly punk rock
was this thing. It's a really weird business to work in," she says.
Unlike many artists, Bif is not opposed to the business side of
the music industry and is more than happy to be part of it. "ani
DiFranco didn't sign with any big labels cause she has her own fuckin'
company. That's the bottom line. Anyone who wants to help you
make your art is a good person, it doesn't matter if they work for
a record company. Record compaies are not the enemy. In the most
perfect world, their motivation is because they believe in whatever
seuced tham about you working in that medium."
She believes that artists or musicians who feel they are being exploited
by the industry would do better as independents. "Even though people
think they're making art--like many really self-righteous artists--if
they're going to be self-righteous artists--they really have no
business in the business of music. They should say in the piano
bar and stay true to their whatever. Everybody becomes a commodity
and it's hard to find your balance."
Six years ago things were entirely different but, as her audiences
continue to grow, Bif is finding her ground. Now people come out
to see the show and aren't surprised to find her on a bill. "You
always get the odd drunk, no matter what band you play in there's
going to be an idiot, but at my shows now, that bullshit is really
limited or does not happen," she says. Hecklying, Bif believes,
is inevitable, but she tries not to let negative people get to her.
"It's just like being a comic, There's always going to be some rotten
apples and you just have to take them with a grain of salt. God
forbid you're premenstrual. It can be kind of upsetting and you
always take it peronally. But fuck 'em, you can't change his mind."