Vancouver rock songstress Bif Naked has been out of the spotlight for the past few years but they have been anything but normal downtime for the artist.
After spending an almost solid two years on the road promoting her last record Superbeautifulmonster, Ms. Naked (nee Beth Torbert) married sports writer Ian Walker in Vancouver in September 2007.
The happy couple’s wedding vows were almost immediately put to a test when in January 2008, Naked was diagnosed with breast cancer.
But with her strong personality and determination to kick cancer’s ass, Naked not only underwent treatment to battle the disease, she also did the (almost) unthinkable by starting to make a new record during the course of her treatment.
“I am still going through treatments for my cancer,” Naked confirms, “but I was not going to let it stop me from making a new record. It was like, come hell or high water, I was getting a record made.”
So in the midst of 17 rounds of chemotherapy treatment and radiation treatment through the fall of 2008, she found the strength to make a new record (The Promise), which was released on May 5.
“Overall, recording was a great experience,” Naked shares. “We had a studio set up just up the road from where I live so I’d shuffle there in my slippers and give it all I had.
“Some days were great; I’d last all day without any problems and other days, I’d barely last an hour before I would have to return home.”
Although I am certain that Naked did not lack perspective on what is important in life, her battle with cancer certainly helped deepen that understanding of the world around her.
“When I was in my 20s, I went to India to see where I was born and got a real perspective of the Third World,” she says. “THAT changed me forever. But really, everyone has their own bag of shit they carry; everybody does.
“I truly feel bad for the people who walk around the world unaware. I think they are really missing out on thoroughly enjoying life and simple things like sharing an organic apple with their kids.”
If there is one thing that is certain, it is that Naked is still firmly in control of her career.
Although her label has changed distribution homes on occasion, her label has now shacked up with Fontana North whose parent company is Universal Music Canada.
“My label has evolved and morphed and has allowed me to sustain my career all these years,” she explains.
“It has been and always will be an artist driven endeavor. We’ve been really lucky in terms of the labels we have worked with in the past and are excited to now be a part of the Fontana world.”
Her label, Her Royal Majesty Records, has evolved indeed and now finds itself amid the International Arts Music label, which is also home to rapper DMX and Canadian country star Jaydee Bixby.
Even with such gargantuan challenges behind her, she sounds as though she hasn’t skipped a beat on her new record. The piss and vinegar that has played such an integral role in her songs looms largely in many of her new songs as well.
The enthusiastic tone of Naked’s voice takes a very cute turn when talk turns to married life.
“I was diagnosed just a few weeks after my honeymoon and I will tell you, there is no better crash course for getting to know your spouse than going through a challenge like what we endured.
“Ian and I are best friends and I think my battle served as an integral part of deepening our relationship. I am so very happy that we were able to successfully navigate an illness like this and emerge with an even deeper bond.”
Ken Kelley is a music reporter for [here] magazine. In conversation with … is an ongoing feature chatting with some of North America’s most relevant artists.