“We are not a novelty”
If there was ever a physical form of the word ‘multi-tasker’, B.Traits is your woman. An accomplished radio presenter, globally-renowned DJ, label boss, producer and role model for fellow female artists as she actively speaks out against inequality and pushes diversity in the dance music industry.
Hailing from Canada, Brianna Price successfully ensconced herself in London’s underground community after playing in the city’s favourite hot spots from Fabric to Shoreditch Platform over the last number of years. Earning the status of a well-rounded artist like B.Traits doesn’t happen overnight and certainly involves an open-minded approach to underground music. In Brianna’s case, this started out in British Columbia’s drum ’n’ bass scene – and “total boy’s club” – which inevitably led her to experience the good and bad aspects of the industry from a young age. Evolving through the years, her sound has come a long way from jungle and Dn’B to her current grittier tone that covers all areas of groovy deep house to moodier, darker techno.
A stalwart for aspiring producers and DJs, Brianna’s support for undiscovered talent has been relentless since her first stint in 2012 hosting BBC Radio 1’s monthly show ‘In New DJ’s We Trust’. Since then, her passion to keep discovering fresh sounds has continued to grow with the launch of her own label ‘In Toto’ earlier this year.
CTC caught up with B. to talk about the ongoing changes in the electronic community today to the equally important topic of disco naps…
CTC: Looking back to the beginning of your career in Canada to your current location in London, how has your sound changed?
B.Traits: “I think my sound has just naturally evolved over the years, my tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older. I would become inspired by a place where I had DJ’d and decide to try something new and different. I have always been a multi-genre loving DJ, but I think every artist grows and evolves; it’s something that constantly happens in the dance music industry. We as artists and DJs have to evolve and grow with our audience.”
What changes have you noticed in the music industry since?
“The obvious changes would be technology and hardware, but I have a feeling this question is suggesting something else. When I first began DJing, I could count on my hands the number of successful female DJs in the industry. It felt much more male dominated than it is today – now it’s completely different. We still have a long way to go, but we are on the right track.”
“I don’t believe promoters should just be booking all female line-ups to tick a box”
You’ve been quite vocal about gender equality but do you think that there should be less emphasis on all female line-ups/bookings to avoid female DJs being portrayed as a novelty?
“This is difficult to verbalise but to push on for equality, we have to keep the conversation strong. I don’t believe promoters should just be booking all female line-ups to tick a box. If anything, that behaviour makes it more difficult for us. We are not a ‘novelty’, we are women doing a job that women are perfectly capable of doing, it’s just that in the past maybe not as many women knew that being a DJ as their profession was an option. I’m also not saying that a collective of women coming together is a novelty. I think it has to be our choice, for the right reasons. Not for click-bait.”
How have you overcome any sexist comments and what can we, as women, do to shout down any negative thoughts or doubts we may have because of this, be it as a DJ or any role in the industry?
“I think that because I started very young, I learned to grow thick skin. I cut my teeth in the drum ’n’ bass and jungle scene, which was a total boys club. I’ve been exploited many times by men in this industry, and the only way I overcame it was to know that deep down I was being the very best DJ that I could be and conducting myself in the most professional manner possible. This meant I wore a rather ‘hard shell’, meaning I wouldn’t really let anyone in the industry in, or get to know me personally. I don’t recommend this idea because it’s not letting people know the real you, and also the industry is completely different and accepting now. Today, to overcome sexist comments, we all need to stand up and vocalise how we feel about it and why it’s not OK. The more we open the conversation the less taboo it becomes, the more we change people’s views.”
“It’s taken me a few years to get the Friday night show to where it is now, but it is a complete creation of my own brain”
Your Saturday night slot on BBC Radio 1 reaches thousands of listeners worldwide. How do you select which guests to host for the show?
“This surprises a lot of people but I choose every artist, label, and track featured on my show. I pick and mix all of the music myself. It’s taken me a few years to get the Friday night show to where it is now, but it is a complete creation of my own brain. I have an incredible production team that help me bring my vision to fruition and package it all together. I am constantly searching for new music and new artists to feature as well as hustling to get the bigger names on!”
How do you prepare for a B2B set as part of BBC Radio 1’s Chameleon Club? There’s been really varied artists featured such as DVS1, Djrum and Krankbrother for example…
[Laughs] “Well that’s why I call it the Chameleon Club mix, because I change and adapt my style of music or DJing to fit with the guest. It involves me doing some extra research on the artist but generally I know all of my guests’ style pretty well already.”
Last year you launched ‘In Toto’, the label and party series showcasing your own productions as well as artists who fit the label. What’s the ethos and sound of In Toto?
“In Toto is my outlet to release the purest possible expression of my own productions and my taste in music as a curator and DJ. So that means, there is no specific sound of In Toto. It is a way for me to bring the ideas in my brain to fruition while representing my love for underground dance music.”
Between touring the globe as a DJ, producing and running In Toto and of course hosting your radio show, when do you sleep?
“Rarely. Sleep is something I love but doesn’t love me in return. I have become a very good ‘napper’, specifically ‘disco naps’ which last no more than 40 minutes. They get me through the traveling and long nights.
Kick starting the summer in Ibiza B2B with Jesse Rose at Dalt Villa for IMS last month, what other stand-out shows have you got lined up around the world?
“This summer is my busiest to date. I decided that I wanted to do more European shows this year, which means more flights and sleepless nights in hotels but I’m very excited about the gigs. Some standout festivals I’m looking forward to are Melt!, DGTL in Barcelona, Loveland in Amsterdam, and SW4 here in London. SW4 is going to be a special one because they’ve let me curate my own stage on Sunday!”