Bif Naked was born in 1971 to teenaged boarding school parents in New Delhi, India, and was adopted by American missionaires shortly after birth and named Elizabeth Torbert. She spent her early childhood growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, where her father taught at the state university. Her family moved to Manitoba before she was a teen, first living in The Pas, then Dauphin, and finally Winnipeg.
While attending the University of Manitoba as a drama major, she joined the punk band Jungle Milk, which morphed into Gorilla Gorilla and she began going by the name of Bif Naked. At the age of 19 she married the drummer, Brett Hopkins. Known not only for her music but for her tattoos, she’d gotten her first one when she was only 16. But by the time she joined Chrome Dog a few years later after her marriage fell apart, she’d had an abortion and her quasi-goth image bloomed.
Now residing in Vancouver, she eventually signed with Plum Records and released her debut EP, FOUR SONGS AND A POEM in 1994, which largely went unnoticed. All four songs re-appeared on her self-titled debut album a year later, which featured the first single “Tell On You,” a piano based tune about rape full of subdued anger. Brash and full of attitude, the record was produced and largely co-written by John Dexter, and critical and fan acceptance was immediate. The subsequent singles “Daddy’s Getting Married” (the story of a broken home), “My Whole Life,” and “Everything” (about her open bisexuality) kept her on the charts for more than the next year while she toured the world. When Plum went under, she regained the masters and, in 1996, reissued the album through her own Her Royal Majesty’s Records.
She followed it up in what would become her untraditional fashion, with a spoken world album called OKENSPAY ORDWAY – THINGS I FORGOT TO TELL MOMMY in the spring of ’97, which contained an explicit lyrics warning. After switching to Lava Records, her next musical endeavor was IBIFICUS a year later, with producer Glenn Rosenstein. The record was remixed for the American and UK markets, and was eventually certified double platinum at home, on the backs of the guitar anthemic “Spaceman” about hoping to be abducted by aliens, “Chotee,” “Lucky” (used on the “Buffy The Vampire” soundtrack), and “Moment of Weakness” (about an impulsive trip to Mexico she took with a near perfect stranger – the video for which received steady airplay on just about every music network on earth).
The self-explanatory ANOTHER FIVE SONGS AND A POEM was on the shelves in 2000, which featured a cover of Twisted Sister’s monotonous “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” used on the “Ready To Rumble” compliation soundtrack.
2001’s PURGE, produced by Desmond Child (possibly most noteable for his work with KISS in the late ’70s/early ’80s), was argued as her most ambitious record to date, the record mixed punk and pop in a theme of self-empowerment. It spawned four singles, beginning with her breakout mainstream hit, “I Love Myself Today,” which peaked in the top 10 on both sides of the border, as well as making the top 20 in several markets in the UK. It was followed by “Tango Shoes,” “Leader” (sort of a women’s rights tune), and by the time “Choking On The Truth” had come and gone from the top 40 a year and a half after the album’s release, she had herself a platinum record in Canada and gold record in the US, and had toured the world for the better part of that time. The record was up for a Juno Award for Best Rock Album, but lost.
ESSENTIALLY NAKED came out in ’03, a greatest hits album that also contained several remixes, a pair of new tracks released as singles (“Rich and Filthy” and “Back in the Day”), a collection of her poetry, and a DVD with some videos. Having spent her time off writing, she widdled her pile of 50+ songs down to 13 for her next album, SUPER BEAUTIFUL MONSTER in 2005. It featured the first single, “Let Down,” a cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Everyday,” about her diagnosis of a heart aneurysm that thankfully didn’t need corrective surgery. The album was certified platinum a year later, peaking at #12 on the albums chart in Canada. The critics though didn’t embrace the album, chalking it up to just another angst-ridden chick rocker disc, stripped down and a cross between Pink and Courtney Love.
She stepped out of the limelight for a couple of years, getting married in ’07 to Vancouver Sun sports writer Ian Walker, and having been diagnosed with breast cancer a year later. Recovery and treatment included a lumpectomy and chemotherapy.
THE PROMISE in 2009 had the critics and buying audience totally perplexed. Songs like “Fuck You 2” were obviously not getting airplay. “Sick” (about her ordeal with cancer), and “King of Karma,” however, did, and pushed the album gold, cracking the top 30 on the albums chart.
Throughout her career, she’s toured the world on several occasions, and been on the bills with a wide variety of genre’d artists, from Billy Idol, Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, and The Cult – to Snoop Dog – to Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, and Chrissie Hynde, among others. Her songs have also appeared on several soundtracks and compilation albums, including her version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” for the MTV Christmas CD in ’01, and the “Celebrity Deathmatch” soundtrack with “Vampire”, as well as the soundtracks to the programs “Moonlight” and “Charmed,” to name just a few.
She’s also guested on several other artists’ projects, including Moist, Liveonrelease, Simple Plan, Nettwerk, among others. She’s also made numerous appearances on television programs and movies, including “Archangel,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (where she played herself and performed three songs), “The Crow,” “Once A Thief,” “Cold Squad,” “House of the Dead,” and “The Boys Club,” among others.