Since swapping Canada for the UK, B.Trais has set about developing her musical knowledge, passing on her acquired wisdom via the airwaves of BBC Radio 1. Having initially made her mark with some jungle inspired production, B.Traits is now praised for her genre spanning taste, consistently demonstrated when behind the decks and on air. This Sunday will see Brianna at the controls as System and Set One Twenty take to the terrace of Mint Warehouse for their first party of the summer. Ahead of the event, we caught five with B.Traits to get to her thoughts on early influences, educating from behind the decks and evolving production.
You originally started your career in Canada but have been based over here in the UK for a few years now. How do you think the electronic music scenes in the two have compared?
I view the Canadian scene completely differently to the UK’s. I relocated to the UK specifically to immerse myself in dance music culture, because for me, the UK is one of the epicentres of the ever changing –ever evolving sound of dance music. I feel that Canada has often been behind the times, and when I decided I wanted music to be my full time career, I needed to be where it was all happening; a place where I could go out any time of the week and be exposed to music, styles, and sounds I’d never heard before.
These days you are a pretty well established figure on the DJ circuit with a reputation for an eclectic selection of records. Could you give us an insight to some of the records you were exposed to that were pivotal in opening the door to newer and more diverse sounds?
Growing up in rural Canada, I admit, it was difficult to find music I really loved or music that I felt was my own. Radio stations played soft alternative rock and our equivalent of MTV played current pop music of predominantly Canadian artists. Fortunately, there was one late night program on Much Music TV presented by a young Japanese girl that featured ‘world music’. This is where I first heard artists like The Prodigy, Aphex Twin, Orbital, Goldie, and Shy FX. Records that changed it all for me are The Prodigy’s Firestarter and Breathe, Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy and of course Windowlicker completely blew my mind. Orbital’s Halcyon and Shy FX’s Original Nuttah were also very influential.
Your BBC Radio 1 show on Friday nights has been a big factor in developing your reputation for bridging genres and providing a platform for new music. Does your position as a resident on the station make the process of sourcing new music easier, or do you have to spend a large portion of time digging for interesting content to play?
I think it definitely makes it easier having a Radio 1 show. A lot of music just falls into my inbox and that’s always really nice. Although sometimes I feel that there is such oversaturation of similar sounding music that I usually spend the majority of my prep time digging for music that doesn’t go to promo. I think that’s why my show stands out. I really am playing those records that you cannot find easily. It’s the best part for me, and I believe its my duty to bring my listeners interesting music that they’ve never heard before, rather than just playing the current hits.
You say that your career is based around three principles, eclecticism, evolution and education. As a DJ, do you think it is easy to strike a balance between being entertaining, for instance playing big songs, and being educational in your record selections?
To be a good DJ, it is crucial that you master this balance. A set full of classics and big tracks is boring. You can play a few, have a few key moments in a set, but a DJ set should be a journey, it should transmit a feeling. I think its important to hear something new, to inspire, to play something weird and maybe unusual, just to see where that journey takes you and your audience. As a DJ myself, the thing I love the most about listening to other DJ’s DJ sets, is to hear those new, upcoming, or experimental tunes.
Do you find there is a pressure to champion new music on your shows and in your sets, or would you say that it is a natural element of your DJ’ing style?
I would say it’s a very natural element of my DJing style. Because I am constantly exposed to new music through my radio show, I have so much amazing new music all the time.
A big part of your emergence onto the scene was down to your 2012 release Fever. How do you think the sound of your production has evolved since then? What do you think have been the key factors in the changes?
I wrote Fever as a homage to the sound that I discovered when I was growing up, when I first discovered dance music. I wanted to capture the sounds that I had fallen in love with; the organ, the ravey piano, and most importantly the drums and breaks! I cannot say that this really was my own style of production, because I was copying different old school styles and bringing them into one. It’s strange, because in the music I make now, I still use a lot of these elements, I just approach them in a different way. I think I am a more advanced producer now, in the sense that I believe I have my own sound. Every good artist grows and evolves, and I believe I will forever grow and evolve with dance music. My sound now is just a little bit more grown up, a little more experimental, a little more me.
Later this month you will be playing at Mint Warehouse in Leeds alongside another diverse set of DJs in the form of Apollonia. Have you had many previous experiences of the Leeds clubbing scene?
I have played at Canal Mills many times and also at the club Mint. This will be my first Mint Warehouse DJ set, although I have spent a few late nights there as a patron. Leeds has such a great vibe, some of my favourite UK gigs were in Leeds! I cannot wait to be back.
The now famous Mint Warehouse terrace parties are some of the biggest open air parties in the city. Do you find you have to alter your track selection when playing in these type of spaces compared to smaller and more intimate venues?
Not really, it depends on the night and the vibe that I feel when it’s my turn to DJ. I might play a bit harder if I think the ravers are up for it.
Finally, could you give us a small insight as to what expect when you take to the deck at Mint Warehouse?
You will have to wait and see!
(Photo:Mint Warehouse System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party)
Interview by Elliot Ryder
Photos courtesy of B.Traits