Bif Naked celebrates 20 years with acoustic disc
Bif Naked (Handout)
After beating breast cancer, Canadian rocker Bif Naked found herself speaking at various cancer events, firing up patients and those in their sphere with positivity and strength. For one such keynote, she was also asked to perform a couple of her songs acoustically, so she took to the stage with her guitarist J.D. Ekstrom and loved it. A couple more requests came in for acoustic sets and then the pair decided to actually tour acoustically.
The new album, Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights, stems from that experience, featuring newly recorded acoustic versions of some of her best-known songs, such as “Spaceman,” “Lucky,” “Moment of Weakness” and “Chotee” (along with three new songs, including the first single, “So Happy I Could Die”).
“We had been performing these [older] songs in our acoustic performances and J.D. and I would get carried away every time,” Naked tells MSN. “We’re in these soft-seater theatres doing these really warm and friendly shows and the audience is warm and friendly and we’re laughing and everyone’s enjoying a nice evening. We’d finally get the f*****’ chain off the stage because they [venue management] are like, ‘Get your ass off there; you’ve been three hours!’
“We would play the entire repertoire from my 20–year history and a lot of the people after the show were like, ‘Where can we get copies of this?’ and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? You guys all filmed it on your f*****’ phones!’” she laughs. “They’re like, ‘Really, you should think about doing an acoustic CD.’ And eventually they got to me and I’m like, ‘Yeah you’re right, let’s try and do this.’”
Last summer, Naked got together with Doug Fury, her long-time guitar player, at his recording studio in Vancouver and started randomly laying down songs — far more than ended up on Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights. “Perhaps, there will be another acoustic disc,” she says. Many of the recordings were captured in one take. Ekstrom, who plays on the album, was only brought out from his home in Calgary for a couple of days.
Around the same time, Naked ran into John Dexter, the man who produced her 1995 self-titled debut and co-wrote many of those songs, such as “Daddy’s Getting Married,” (also on Bif Naked Forever…). They were catching up on each other’s lives and Dexter mentioned she should write with a songwriter/producer he manages, Ryan Stewart, whose credits include Carly Rae Jepsen, Susie McNeil and Victoria Duffield. Their collaboration yielded “So Happy I Could Die” and “The Only One.”
“I love writing with him — it’s so easy — and we’re in the process of writing more songs with him as well. ‘The Only One,’ for me, is like ‘Lucky;’ I can’t not get teary when I sing it. It’s really f**kin’ embarrassing,” she adds, a common tactic of hers to deflate a emotional comment with a faux-hardness and self-deprecation.
In “So Happy I Could Die,” one of the lines is about feeling she wasn’t good enough, and Naked says, “I think we all feel that way at our root. I certainly feel that way. All of us have our secret self-deprecating talk that we say to ourselves constantly, self- putdowns. Mine will always be ‘Oh, you’re such a f*****' moron, which I’ll say at least once a day to myself, whether it be about dropping my keys or rimming my tires on the curb.
“It’s not very self-loving, but I think it all stems from our insecurity and our undying desire to please everyone else, and that stems from our childhood and being in grade two when we wanted Mrs. Butterfield to like our essay or when we wanted our mom to be proud of the Easter egg we dyed with the grape juice or whatever it was.
“I think those feelings still exist with people and that everyone can relate — the truth is that we just don’t feel we’re good enough for somebody or some job or to take some risk. I feel that holds us back in life and it’s not fear that we cant do it; it’s fear that we’re not going to be liked or accepted and will be judged.”
The other new song on the album is “Nobody Knows,” which Naked says is about incarceration: “I love prison themes, just because I feel like we’re all imprisoned by our feelings; it’s very metaphoric.”
Naked now has a chance to release all those feelings. She has a book deal with Harper Collins and hopes to be finished next year. The girl — who was born in India, adopted by American missionaries, and became an outspoken tattooed rock chick who toured the world, dabbled in acting, beat breast cancer, became a motivational speaker, and much more — certainly has lots to write about. Her health scare did not end with cancer. Shortly after signing a deal with Dexter’s Reliant label to put out Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights, she landed in hospital with kidney failure and while there underwent heart surgery for an aneurysm. She was also going though a divorce from sports writer Ian Walker, whom she married in 2007 before receiving her cancer diagnosis a few months later.
Naturally, Naked, now 41, made light of the book offer, jokingly taking it as a sign she was doomed.
“I’m like, ‘That’s great. I am gonna f*****’ croak aren’t I?’ Everybody knows I’m gonna croak except me ‘cause now I’m rushing to finish my book before I die. It’s just very funny, but I’m enjoying that immensely too,” she says of writing.
The book will consist of essays, rather than straight autobiography.
“I really enjoy storytelling and there’s just so many different stories — some stories abut my parents, for example, and their work with the Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s and some stories about India and some stories about me as a little kid trying to outrun poisonous snakes and tour stories and, of course, coming up to a lot of cancer stories. So it feels like a lot of different books to me.”