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B.Traits: Queen B

B.Traits talks dream festival line-ups and DJs bouncing off walls.

Stand back; the buzz around B.Traits is getting louder and this summer, she is about to sting. Canadian's finest export (soz, not you, Justin Beiber) is already as busy as a bee; what with launching a fresh event series at London's XOYO on Thursdays, a flood of festivals in the calendar and her residency at BBC Radio 1 which will see her returning to the White Isle as part of the esteemed Radio 1 Weekend in July. “I cannot wait for this summer!” she adds giddily, “It's our 20th anniversary and we are planning some incredible parties.”

One of the revelries on the radar will, of course, be fellow Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac's first ever festival which washes up on the shores of Malta over the Easter weekend. “Annie is ecstatic about Lost & Found, I saw her last week at Radio 1 and she was nearly bouncing off the walls! We all are!” An excited B.Traits, real name Brianna Price, will be on the decks alongside dance music diamonds like Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82 and Duke Dumont as well as the other BBC comrades including Annie Mac herself, Toddla T and Monki. “We've all taken a few days off after the festival to chill out and take in the Malta scenery ...and by this I mean sit by the pool eating amazing food!” she laughs. “It's going to be a lot of fun!” DJs need chill time too – who knew?

With her Instagram page a vibrant and vivacious flurry of picturesque, scenic landscapes from far flung destinations, bass-heavy ‘booth vids and kooky, honest and funny snapshots of the lilac-locks DJ, it is refreshing to hear (and see) a successful artist not just swank about the 24/7 raving, misbehaving and sunbathing. “Last year, I had a residency at Amnesia and ended up living on the island [of Ibiza] for half of the summer. I was living out in the countryside so I'd often just rent a car and drive around for hours exploring the island and listening to music; Joy Orbison's Essential Mix & Maceo Plex live from ENTER sound-tracked my entire summer. I cannot wait to get back there this summer, I have butterflies just thinking about it!”
(...brb, just downloading Joy Orbison and Maceo's set.)

With the metropolis of Malta, the Balearic bliss of Ibiza and Croatian celebrations Hideout and Croatia Rocks all on B.Traits summer schedule, I wondered how her sets and vibes will differ between each venue...well, alright, beach. “Depending on the festival and event, I try to consider each gig as it comes,” she reveals. “I feel it's important to have a few stand out moments in a festival set, I'm not quite sure what those moments consist of exactly, in terms of specific tunes, but I do know when they are happening or when I should make them happen... I don't like to pre plan anything anymore; I'd rather play in the moment for the moment.”

It was this individuality, integrity and raw instinct that first caught the eyes and ears of airwaves royalty BBC Radio 1, way back in 2012, when they gave B.Traits her own monthly show In New DJs We Trust. A few months later she began hosting another Radio 1 slot which kicked off her first weekly gig. “When Radio 1 first gave me the show they were quite specific in saying “play whatever you want”. I cannot even explain how great that feels!” she smiles. Fast forward to September 2014 and she was moved to her current weekly position as part of the prestigious Friday night line-up, broadcasting from 1am to 4am. “It's still a bit weird for me to be honest!” she muses. “I never imagined doing radio, I had no radio experience before Radio 1 but they really believed in me.”

So how did the pastel-haired music maestro go from being a jungle/drum n bass DJ in her native Canada to her success in Britain? “Music was my only reason for moving to the UK,” B.Traits explains. Ah, not the glorious weather then, ey? Thought not. “I'd been drawn to the UK dance music scene since I was a kid and always wanted to experience it for myself. I always knew that the music scene was completely different to what we have in Canada and I craved the pure open-minded energy of it.” Making the leap in 2010, with the help of Shy FX, her mentor, she reminisces; “I will never forget the feeling I had when I first got here, it was a constant nervous energy, I was being exposed to and experiencing so much brand new music! It was one of the most inspiring times for me.”

It could be said that B.Traits has now come full circle; an influential artist to so many people herself, particularly as a resident on BBC Radio 1. “There is so much music that has never really been championed by Radio 1 and the fact that they have given me the opportunity to do so is humbling.” B.Traits divulges that since her new show started in September, she has been slowly transitioning to more underground sounds, which “is essentially where my heart is.”

And, as B.Traits had a stint covering Annie Mac's maternity, I was so eager to ask her, as a girl who so obviously knows her stuff, if she had to follow in Mac's footsteps here and create her own festival, who would be her top three headliners. “Hmm this is a tricky question,” she deliberates. “It would depend on the kind of festival! If I was able to book a more eclectic line up ...or if I was to keep it as a dance festival…” You can have both, B.Traits. “I think my top headliners for an Eclectic Festival would be D'Angelo because he is on top of his game right now and I'd love to see what he does to a festival crowd. My second would be Bjork as she's just come out with her new album, which I love but equally hate as it ruins me on an emotional level.” B.Traits then goes on to pick ENTER treasure and techno tyrant Maceo Plex and Bulgarian, broken-beat producer KiNK. “Maceo is an incredible DJ, you can tell he's in love with the music he is playing. Every time I see him DJ I think ‘that was the best DJ set I've seen yet'… until the next time! And I've become a massive Kink fan, I've seen a few of his live sets on Youtube and they are incredible. I love when an artist really smashes out the ‘live' idea and he knocks it out of the park!” As expected, B.Traits choices reflect her diverse sense of music that makes her so enlivening. (inserts fist-pump emoji here)

Even though both sound like festivities they would be the bee knees, for now we will have to make do with her top three essential anthems for the coming summer months so get these on your playlist asap:
Jon Hopkins - Open Eye Signal (George Fitzgerald Remix)
Harvey McKay - The Cure
Trus'Me - I Want You (Alan Fitzpatrick Remix)

Many of you may be lucky enough to catch a B.Traits set this summer but, as a bee that has got the honey; I predict B.Traits will be high-flying long in to the winter and thereafter too. *One To Watch Alert!* In fact, the reign of new Queen B.Traits has only just begun...

View this feature in the weekly Spotlight Magazine, Issue 13.

WORDS | Francesca Evans

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