Bif Naked Forever
Somewhere between showing me a homemade cell phone video of her fluffy 16-year-old Maltese burying a pretend bone and multiple table interruptions, Bif Naked and I talked heart surgery, Enbridge and Kate Middleton, and her new release: "Bif Naked Forever: Acoustic Hits & Other Delights".
"That was wonderful, doing theatre shows back there (in the Martimes). It's just so much fun. I just love performing, and I can't seem to stop, as much as I would like to," the Juno Award-winner laughed, resting her hands on the table. Her sheer, forest green tunic blouse revealed arm tattoos.
(Fun fact: Bif Naked's most recent tattoo is a Lili Lu illustration from the cover of poet and spoken word artist Tara Hardy's latest book, Bring Down the Chandeliers. "The illustration on the cover spoke to me and I wanted it tattooed on me. I originally wanted it really big in the middle of my chest, so I had to refrain from doing that," she said.)
The New Delhi-born rocker's new album, a year-long process, had finally seen light. After being asked to do an acoustic album "for so long", she decided to do it. Torbert sat on the idea, waiting for a record label she wanted to work with, which included John Dexter, the very first producer she ever worked with, ever.
"It was like coming full circle. it was wonderful, and I met Ryan Stewart through John and wrote two extra songs for the record, so that was all meant to be. The timing really was important, and I'm glad we waited," she said. Some of Bif Naked's most prominent hits, "Spaceman", "I Love Myself Today" and "Lucky" are also featured on the record.
"Basically, all the songs I ever write about are searching for a boyfriend," the currently single Torbert admitted, adding that she doesn't plan on dating any time soon. "It's a nightmare."
"I'm a romantic, and every time we have to live through another disappointment it really enables me to just keep writing songs about searching, about yearning, about longing for love or for acceptance or whatever it is.
"No matter what happens in our lives, as writers and lyricists, and creative people, we never run out of that same topic to keep creating things about. So, it's easy to be inspired all the time."
"Do you have soy or almond milk?" Torbert asked the server who appeared out of nowhere, asking if we wanted refills. "That would be better. Thank you so much. I appreciate it," she said politely.
Bif Naked vs cancer
Bif Naked's public battle with cancer has been an ongoing theme in her life. Though she has managed to beat cancer and stay cancer free, almost every stomach ache or routine health problem points to the disease as a precaution. The self-proclaimed science geek said she spends a lot of time working with cancer patients.
"I love science. That's how I felt about all my cancer treatments. I like working as a volunteer with cancer patients. I wish I was a medical translator," she said.
"My father just had that talk with me last night. He wants me to go into theology, and he told me, 'You should go get your degree.'"
A recent health scare brought her back into the hands of the white-suited health care professionals. She ended up in an operating room.
"I woke up with a stomach ache. I couldn't dial it in. I'm really good with pain, and I just couldn't get a handle on it," she explained.
Her best friend cared for her dog while she went to the emergency room. "They discovered that a part of my kidney was dying. They assumed it was a tumor. Of course. That's always going to be the natural inclination for anyone," she added. Assuming that it was blood clot due to a preexisting heart condition, a hole, they closed it to ensure that if it was a clot this wouldn't happen again.
"I was very lucky and I enjoyed my heart surgery very much. I have to say the cardiologist is a real rock star and he looks like a super hero," she said, comparing the doctor to a body builder. "And listening to William Shatner music in the surgery room. Surreal. Like out of the f*cking Larry David TV show where you're lying on the table going, 'Am I Richard f*cking Lewis here? Are you kidding me?' I couldn't believe it.
"I felt so lucky to be in a situation where this is available to me as a Canadian, as a medical patient, just so many things. I enjoyed it very much. I would do it again every week if I could," she continued about her medical adventure.
Then two weeks ago, she experienced another stomach pain. "Naturally, they're going to think that again it's cancer .
"If it's not me sick, it's my dog that's sick. Every week I never know what to expect," she said, indifferently, as if talking about the weather.
Eating out in Vancouver
"I love eating at the Naam," she dished. "I can embarrass myself there."
She talked about their many vegan options, before going to her other favourites. "I like Organic Lives, Gorilla Foods, raw vegan restaurant. There are two new vegetarian restaurants, they make their food with acorn, on Main Street and Heirloom vegan restaurant in New West. There are so many options now. When I moved here there was only The Naam which is still my favourite."
On the way out, a Gucci store made her shake her head in disbelief. "Who buys this stuff?" she asked the air.
A fan picture and video recording later, we hugged "see you later" (full circle moment right there) and she was on her way to "rescue the greatest human being she's ever met": her 16-year-old Maltese dog (aka the cutest snowball thing-person on planet earth ever).