B.Traits is an artist that has become somewhat of a household name for many of us. Whether it is her ever impressive show on Radio 1, her skilfully programmed DJ sets or her involvement with drug education she is a woman that has proven that she is here to stay and here to make considerable changes in the scene. We caught up with her ahead of the ‘Staying Sane in the Game’ panel at Take Note Academy London which is due to make its welcome return to East London’s design space Second Home this September.
Riding high on the success of previous years, London’s first music conference for young people has programmed a day full of inspiring talks, masterclasses, one-on-one mentoring and live performances. Take Note aims to educate, inspire and connect the next generation, bringing together those who will shape the future of the music industry.
When the opportunity came about to sit and chat with B.Traits it was a very simple decision. She is an artist I have been wanting to sit and talk to for a while. We began by talking about her past and how she began to pursue music at 17 by moving to Vancouver… “I moved to Vancouver as soon as I graduated from high school, I wanted to move to the big city to explore the possibilities. At the time when I made the move, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do, I was DJing, but I didn’t realise I could make it a full-time profession. It was important for me to take a leap, to push me out of my comfort zone.” B.Traits went on to speak about why she then decided to move from Canada to the UK, and in particular, London.”
“After spending 6 years in Vancouver, I had become a moderately successful DJ around North America but I wanted to explore producing music full-time and I didn’t feel like I was in an inspiring enough situation in Vancouver. I had visited the UK a number of times for gigs, and I had always felt so overwhelmed with inspiration every trip, so eventually, it made sense to make the move to London and pursue production seriously. I understood I had to literally hit the ‘reset’ button on my current DJ career, but I felt taking yet another leap was what I needed to push forward and begin a new chapter as a producer.”
I was keen to know more about what grabbed her attention about electronic music and who some of her early influences were… “My biggest influences have always been my mates, friends who I consider my family. Without them to bounce idea’s off, I wouldn’t be where I am today! My tastes have always evolved as I have as an artist and selector. Over the years my idols have been Brian Eno, to David Lynch, to The Prodigy, to strong female artists that I was fascinated with as a young child… women like Patti Smith, or Debbie Harry, or Missy Elliott.”
Moving on from her early days we soon moved onto talk about her first opportunity for Radio 1 where she had gained a Residency slot on Radio 1 in 2012… “At the time, I was presenting a Monday night show from 2 am – 4 am, this slot was important for me because it was so late at night, I could really explore what I wanted to represent on Radio 1. A few months later I was asked to become part of the Friday night line up, and was encouraged to do exactly the same as I was with the Monday night slot; to explore the deeper, darker, more underground side of what our Friday night dance music represents.”
“I have complete free reign over what I play in that 3 hours. I carefully choose the guests, the labels, and all of the music programmed. I also mix the first hour myself and play b2b with various DJs every week. I think the show has just grown with my tastes, I have become older, music has evolved, I’ve dug deeper – have wandered further down the rabbit hole and the show reflects this.”
Being a bit of a music nerd I was interested to know what her first ever track was for Radio 1… “It was probably some throwback to The House Crew – Euphoria (Nino’s Dream Mix), a record that has always represented rave culture for me. I still play that track today!”
As I am sure many of you are aware B.Traits recently played a back to back to back with Cassy and La Fleur in Ibiza for Radio 1. I asked B.Traits about how the set came about, and how she found the show… “The Radio 1 events team approached me when they were beginning to program the weekend and together we came up with a list of artists that would be suitable for me to play back to back with. As the weeks went on, I was excited to feature more female-identified talent on the lineup this year and decided to not book just 1 other artist, but to bring on a second and make it a b2b2b. I have had both La Fleur and Cassy on my show in the past, both for the Chameleon Club b2b mix and La Fleur was also a Future 12 selection back in 2016, so I am very familiar with their styles and decided they would be perfect for our Mambo broadcast.”
“We didn’t plan any music for the set, we knew we had 38 minutes only, and felt that planning would fog the natural vibe of the set, so we decided to just go with it.”
If any of you listen to B.Traits Radio 1 shows you will know she often plays back to back with a number of artists but I wanted to know more about her thoughts on the concept a back to back DJ set… “I have become very good at b2b sets because I do them on my show every week. It’s helped me become a very versatile and eclectic DJ. I love playing a solo set where I get to take the audience on my own journey, but there’s also something really special about collective energy in a b2b set, its super fun to be dancing and playing music with someone else.”
B.Traits is no stranger to the White Island and spoke at IMS earlier in the year. I asked her about some of her personal highlights during the summit this year… “This year I participated in the first ‘Remedy State’ retreat, focused on helping our industry navigate the downsides of touring. I felt it was incredibly beneficial and a step in the right direction in helping our community understand and overcome the psychological disorders that can be the result of lack of sleep, substance abuse, constant traveling and poor diet and exercise.”
B.Traits has been involved in the scene for some time so I asked her about how the industry had changed in terms of diversity over the years since her first experiences…
“When I first began as a DJ, I could count the number of successful female DJs I knew on my hands. Now it is a completely different ball game, but its because female-identified artists have constantly pushed the conversation of equality forward.”
There is much talk about social media in the scene and how it can have negative impacts but I wanted to know the most positive points for B.Traits the years and how she used the various social media platforms… “To be completely honest, I dislike social media, but I understand it is a useful tool for personal promotion and is also an important platform for using your voice in a passionate way.”
Moving on to talk about B.Traits music, she recently posted an image on social media of her latest release which caused quite the stir amongst her fans. I asked her what she had in the pipeline for 2018… “I have quite a lot of new music in circulation right now, I just released a breakbeat-sunset style remix for singer-songwriter Aurora’s latest single ‘Queendom’. I’ve also got a new track titled ‘I Feel The Music’ which will be on the seventh edition of Drumcode’s ‘A-Sides’ compilation out Sept 10th, plus my next release on my own label In.Toto is an EP of fun festival-ready tracks titled ‘People’s Nation’ and ‘Inside My Love’, out on Oct 6th.” If any of you have not heard the track on Drumcode you are in for a treat, trust me!!!
Here at Decoded Magazine, we are huge believers in drug awareness and safety in the scene. B.Traits has worked to spread awareness of drug safety over the years and I was keen to know why she was so passionate about the topic.
“At first, it was a subject I was interested in because I am in a rave every weekend for gigs, and its ignorant for anyone to consider that people don’t take recreational substances at these events. Once the documentary aired on BBCThree, I experienced a very scary scenario involving my youngest brother overdosing on MDMA. He is fine now but it was very scary at the time. You never think something like that will happen to you personally. From that point on I made the decision to make sure I had a loud voice in the conversation of harm reduction. I now work closely with The Loop, a not for profit Community Interest Company which specialises in safety drug testing, welfare, and harm reduction services at events across the UK. The UK is still very far behind many other forward thinking European cities, but we are making progress. Its a long, hard battle but we are slowly making advances.”
B.Traits is set to speak at London’s music academy for young people, Take Note. I asked her what some of her key topics would be at the event… “I will be speaking on the ‘Staying Sane In The Game’ panel in which I aim to cover everything from harm reduction at festivals, to personal wellbeing while touring, to DJ maintaining professionalism within the industry.”
Finally, before I left B.Traits in peace to enjoy her day I asked her what she gets up to in her downtime… “I love being at my home in London. Over the years I have realised how important it is to have your own space that you truly make ‘home’. As a touring DJ, it is easy to fall into this habit of just having flats where you keep your shit, we almost treat these places like the hotel rooms we constantly stay in. My home is now full of things that I identify with, things that calm me, that keep me grounded. Its full of plants, books, ceramics that I’ve collected on my travels, precious stones, and most importantly; there’s loads of art on my walls. I also love to cook, so my kitchen is my sanctuary. I love nothing more than kicking back with friends, cooking dinner and enjoying wine.”
With an end to an interview involving food and wine, she sounds like a lady after my own heart. I would like to thank B.Traits for her time and the great answers she provided to my questions.