Bif Naked is a Canadian musician, an activist and, recently, a published author. Her first solo album was released in 1995, self-titled and powerful. The album included tracks that were incredibly personal to Naked, most notably “The Gross Gross Man” and “Tell on You” (“Letter to My Rapist”). Although her vocals rasped and the guitars were harsh, her lyricism couldn’t have been more clear. Naked would not quietly make her way in the music industry — her lyrics on sexuality, violence against women and the men who she’s survived are loud and defiant. Her music has empowered people to stand up for themselves and work through their pain, and she is still advocating for those same ideas today.
“I wrote a song on my last record that was about a stalker that affected my life,” said Naked in a 2009 interview with online publication Shave. “It’s always issues that affect my own personal experience. It’s never something abstract — except for ‘Spaceman’. ‘Spaceman’ was about escapism. Basically, wanting to be rescued from your life.”
Naked, who will be performing this Wednesday at the PAC in St. Catharines, released her memoir, I, Bificus earlier this year. The novel explores her experience with breast cancer, as well as her history of drug abuse. Overall, it’s a fitting point in time for the memoir to be released, says Naked. In recent years, Naked has been making waves by exploring other aspects of art and music, as well as life in general. Often, she continues to talk about real issues that women continue to face today.
“Women are so fearful about menopause, and it’s got such a funny connotation,” said Naked in an interview from the online publication The Huffington Post. “It’s not sexy. But we need to open up a dialogue about it. Here I am going through it, and I’m still on a skateboard. It’s a different visual of what menopause looks like. I just thought, I’ve got a big mouth, why don’t I take one for the team and put it out there? If it helps take the trepidation away for just one woman, then it’s worth it.”
Although she has been a force in the music industry, especially as a woman in the alternative punk and rock sectors of the industry, Naked lives beyond the media circus that she once found it difficult to avoid.
“I haven’t made a fortune and I don’t think I’m really that famous,” said Naked. “But the good thing about fame is that you can use notoriety to bring attention to issues that need attention on a sociopolitical level.”
“It’s like a friend of mine, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, she was a runner-up for Miss World Canada, and even though she had a political science degree from UBC, her crown spring-boarded her to be heard as a human rights activist. She’s an advocate for a lot of people in her country, Iran, and for a lot of the women on death row over there. Regardless of the path she needed to take to be heard, come hell or high water, she was going to be heard. I think she’s a prime example of someone who uses fame to springboard her own political active agenda and I think that’s very inspirational, so I would definitely say fame over fortune.”
Naked has also used her platform to inspire others. With lyrics that scream self-love and independence, she’s impacted and benefitted all who have heard her demand and risen to the occasion. In her track “Everyday”, Naked gives advice on healing the heart and mind, and truly trying to love yourself.
“Dip your feet into the ocean,” she sings. “Let the sun beat on your skin. Soak in every emotion, that you never thought you’d live. Never take for granted every breath you’re breathing in. Go everywhere you’ve never been — everyday, live like it’s your last one.”
Bif Naked is playing St. Catharines’ FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on November 16.