‘I cringe when I listen to my show’She says her Canadian accent is ‘annoying’; we say the DJ, radio star and music-maker is a true champion of UK dance music
On the day she graduated, Brianna Price left her one-horse hometown for the city of Vancouver, a step closer to her ultimate dream of living in London. A decade later and B. Traits has made the English capital her home, and the 28-year-old is sitting pretty at the centre of the UK dance music scene, with a Radio 1 show and hectic performance schedule. Adopted Anglo maybe, but she still can’t pronounce ‘Loughborough’.
THE RED BULLETIN: How does a Canadian from the tiny town of Nelson end up in London?
B. TRAITS: I’ve always been about the UK ever since I discovered UK dance music in a little record shop in my early teens. I never had a desire to go to the USA. My hometown is incredibly small, like 10,000 people. In a forest. In the mountains. People there are either hippies or hicks, but it’s really open minded, and there’s an incredible music festival there called Shambala, which I grew up at. That helped me hear more UK dance music and get into DJing, which I then practised all day, every day, pretty much. I knew it was what I wanted to do. And I knew I wanted to do it in England.
Were you into music from a young age?
Ever since I was born! I was a weird, obsessive kid. I never watched cartoons; I got addicted to Canada’s equivalent of MTV. My dad tells me from the age of five I used to wake him up the same way every morning: I’d stand by his side of the bed sucking my thumb waiting for him to open his eyes, then he’d get up, make me Cheerios and give me some headphones and sit me down in front of the TV where I’d sing along to music videos all day. They should have paid more attention because some of them were pretty naughty, I’m not going to lie. It was an early education.
When did you become B. Traits?
It’s a nickname I’ve had since I was 13 years old, invented by my friend Mike. I’d just started DJing but was also breakdancing, and we were trying to work out my B-girl name. He was like ‘You have so many child-like features, you look like a baby.’ So he started calling me Baby Traits. Everyone at home calls me Baby T. But I thought being a female DJ in the moody world of drum ’n’ bass, having ‘baby’ in my name was not a good idea.
Was the UK as you imagined?
I hadn’t travelled before I started getting booked for gigs when I was 18. I came to London in 2005 for a gig and loved it. I then came back the next summer and lived in Leicester for three months, and that wasn’t so good. I wanted to be a producer and [British drum ’n’ bass DJ] SS offered to show me the ropes, but Leicester was not London. I didn’t come back for a while after that – until I got signed to Shy FX’s label Digital Soundboy in 2007. Now it completely feels like home.
Was having a weekly Friday night show on Radio 1 part of the plan?
No! I had no plan. I can’t believe I went from a moody teenager playing Dillinger records in a basement in Vancouver to what I’m doing now. I’d never considered radio. When I was approached to do a pilot show I was like ‘What? You want me to talk? In my annoying Canadian accent?’ I still cringe whenever I listen to my show. Especially when I say really embarrassing things like ‘breastol’ instead of Bristol. I still feel like I’m playing a game of Double Dutch and I could fall flat on my face at any time. I get the occasional tweet telling me off for saying ‘low bro’ instead of Loughborough, but it’s so much fun. I can’t imagine my life without radio.
Have you got a plan now?
I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I’m doing: working at Digital Soundboy, doing my radio show, touring, making music. I also love mentoring upcoming artists as I have an amazing platform with the radio slot. I recently created a mixtape at the Red Bull Studios with fresh talent from around the UK, and for me that’s really exciting.