Radio 1 has boasted a plentiful crew of talented DJ personalities down the years, and Brianna Price aka B.Traits is certainly among that group. An eclectic selector whose seemingly meteoric rise has actually been over a decade in the works, B.Traits is one of dance music’s most devoted proponents, and has more than earned her success through a mixture of tireless work and gung-ho bravery. Now well settled in London having made the big jump from North America back when she was 18, Traits is an inspiring character both over the radio and face to face, so we couldn’t wait to speak to her about the exciting prospect of taking on SW4 in August.
Hi Brianna! You started DJing out in Vancouver aged just 18. Did your age make it more difficult to get people to take you seriously?
I actually started DJing at age 16 and only moved to Vancouver at age 18, once I graduated from high school. I started booking proper gigs once I moved to Vancouver, DJing in clubs in Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler. At the time, I was very young, and at first I was not of age to legally be in the club, but I had a good crew of people around me that helped me maintain bookings. Early in my career, I was quite serious; I was young and it was important for me to be taken seriously. This means I kind of carried this hard shell, I conducted myself as professionally as possible.
You now hold a BBC Radio 1 Friday night residency, which is a highly commendable feat. How important do you think radio is as a format for sharing music?
Radio is different from the ever-popular streaming format because you have a consistent presenter. A person who has a personality and taste that you enjoy, you trust that presenter’s choice in music and style of presenting it. I believe Radio will always hold a certain place in the industry.
Your first label signature came via Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy back in 2007. How influential was this on your formative years as a producer and DJ?
When I was first signed to DSB I was still a very new producer. Once I moved to London and was able to spend as much time as possible in the studio with producers like Shy FX and Breakage, I was able to absorb a remarkable amount critical production knowledge and technique. I am the producer I am today because of that time I spent in the studio with DSB; nearly everyday, working on a wide range of different styles and genres. Also, when I moved to London, I had to set the reset button on my DJing career. I was doing a lot of gigs back in Canada and around North America, but I didn’t have much of a fan base in London, so I had to start from the beginning again. This was a challenge but it also meant I didn’t have to stick to one specific genre anymore, and so my eclectic years began. Having just moved to a new country, I was completely inspired by all of the different styles around the UK, I could go out every night of the week and hear something completely different than anything I’d heard before. It was a very exciting time for me.
You pride yourself on being a pretty broad-reaching DJ, but started off with more of a focus on drum and bass. What prompted you to widen your search for music?
There was nothing specific, I had always been into different genres of dance music. I had first began to learn to dj by playing hip hop and garage before embracing jungle and drum n bass. It was during those first, inspiring years in London that I decided to broaden my djing style.
Though there have been signs of improvement in recent years, the gender gap in electronic music is still undeniably detrimental to women. How important are role models like yourself in balancing the uneven playing field?
I would not use the word detrimental at all. The industry has changed immensely since I first began DJing, nearly 15 years ago. When I started, there were only a handful of female DJs I could look up to. Now there is no shortage of brilliant female DJs and producers, and the numbers will only continue to grow. We won't label the next generation of woman DJs as ‘Female DJs’… they will just be DJs.
You presented the BBC 3 documentary How Safe Are My Drugs? in 2014, and have since appeared on panels at several industry conferences including Ibiza Music Summit. Should dance music culture be taken more seriously by politicians?
Yes, but it’s not just dance music that has an issue with harm reduction. We need action on a global scale, and we need to not only associate drug use with dance music culture.
You’ll be playing at Clapham Common for SW4 at the end of August, so how are you feeling about that one?
SW4 have given me my own stage this summer; a chance for me to feature some of my favourite artists but also showcase their ‘live’ performances rather than their regular DJ sets.
My lineup is:
Carl Craig present Versus Synthesizer Ensemble
George FitzGerald b2b Agoria
Guy Gerber Live
Max Cooper Live
And myself ☺
SW4 has a pretty diverse lineup; who are the standout acts that you’d really like to see perform?
My stage is hosting Carl Craig’s ‘Versus Synthesizer Ensemble’, a symphony of techno! I’ve been really excited to see his show! I also recently caught Audion aka Matt Dear live at Awakenings and I think the way he plays is incredible, I cannot wait to experience it again!
Last one then: if you were only able to choose one song with which you’d have to close all future sets, what would you go for?
Only 1?! Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On.
B.Traits plays at Clapham Common for SW4 on Sunday 27th August, with a star studded cast also appearing on a stage of her own curation.
Photo courtesy of B.Traits