Since moving from Vancouver to London B-Traits has gone from strength to strength. The DJ who, was recruited by Shy FX to be the first Digital Sound Girl, released her first single last year, has become a regular DJ on BBC Radio One and has will be a regular on this year’s festival circuit. We chat to the tiny blonde about the difficulties of breaking into the industry as a woman, and why one day she might even like a David Guetta track.
WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF MUSIC?
My parents used to listen to a lot of Michael Jackson so I think I remember that the earliest – trying to sing along. My Dad was a huge record collector but mostly of rock music, so that made up my childhood listening. Along with the Spice Girls of course.
WAS THAT THE MUSIC THAT INSPIRED YOU WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
Not really, but I think because I was exposed to rock music when I was young, when I discovered dance music it was something completely different and I was really drawn to it – it stood out from anything that I heard before so I made it my ‘thing’.
WHAT WERE THE FIRST DANCE RECORDS YOU HAD?
A lot of jungle music. The tempo was crazy to me. Tracks like Shy FX’s ‘Original Nuttah’ or DJ Zinc’s ‘Reach Out’, and classic dance tunes like that really stuck with me. I also listened to a lot of The Prodigy. In Canada there’s a TV channel called Much Music and I remember there was a late night show that played underground dance music from all over the world and that’s where I saw videos from the likes of The Prodigy. Those tracks opened up my eyes to dance music.
SO HOW DID IT TURN FROM A HOBBY TO A CAREER?
It’s weird because in high school I was always the DJ kid – I made mixtapes for everyone’s parties and I think my equipment just changed over the years until it became a fully fledged career. I got turntables when I could afford them and I started collecting vinyl and mixing properly after that, and once I moved from my small home town to the bigger city I started getting DJ bookings. That’s when I realised that I could do it as a career. But as well as that I knew that I wanted to start producing my own dance music – I just didn’t know how to do it then. That took quite a bit of preparation but it started happening when I moved to Vancouver so I just kept going with it and progressing further and further.
CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST GIG?
My very first proper paid gig was in a very small café in Vancouver. It was a Sunday night and was just very chilled out drum ‘n’ bass. It was so nerve wracking though, I’d never felt that kind of pressure before but it went really well and that night was definitely a turning point in my life. It was the point when I realised that I could actually do it.
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT BREAKING IN TO THE INDUSTRY AS A WOMAN?
It was definitely hard at the beginning. I think that in the past five to ten years the music industry – particularly in the DJ, technical and producing side – has been male dominated. In the last three years or so though I think there has been a huge influx of female producers and DJs, thank god! It has its perks and downfalls. I stand out against the hundreds of dudes that do the exact same thing so that works to my benefit but then I have to work twice as hard to prove myself to those guys – sometimes they wonder why a girl has got their spot. But I think it balances up quite well for me.
WERE THERE ANY SPECIFIC TIMES THAT YOU REMEMBER FINDING HARD?
Yes there were but I don’t really like to dwell on those times. There’s been many times when I’ve been the talk of an internet forum – but I try not to let that bother me anymore. It’s going to happen and it’s inevitable.
DO YOU HAVE A ROLE MODEL?
I do – but it’s different people for different things. I have always looked up to Shy FX as a producer. He’s kept himself relevant throughout the years – his music always has a fan base even though it seems like he released ‘Original Nuttah’ years ago. Other than that I love Debbie Harry – there was no one like her at the time. NERD are also big inspirations for producing.
CERTAIN CURRENT DANCE MUSIC HAS BEEN CALLED AN ‘ABOMINATION’ – WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE CURRENT SCENE?
I can’t really get down with a lot of the current top 40 dance music to be honest. I think it’s just there to reach the masses. David Guetta could make a track that I think is cool – I mean it could happen! But I’ve loved some of Calvin Harris’ past music, and while people are making dance music and putting a pop singer on it – and there’s a lot of crap out there don’t get me wrong – at least it’s getting people interested in the genre. The dance scene has progressed and subgenres have been created because of what’s in the ether, so at least mainstream dance has made dance music more accessible for everyone.
YOUR TRACK ‘FEVER’ WAS INSPIRED BY EARLY RAVES, WHAT’S INSPIRING YOUR WORK NOW?
It definitely has an old school edge. I think all of my music will sound like that because of how much I’m influenced by it and by the early days of rave. I’m just really into music that can make you dance – but not noise dance – something with a proper beat to get your hips moving.
SO WHAT’S THE BEST RAVE YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO?
There’s a festival near my home town called Shambhala which is always really, really good and some of my fondest rave memories are from there. I missed the golden rave era but maybe I’ll try and bring it back…
IS THERE A HUGE GAP BETWEEN THE UK AND CANADIAN DANCE SCENES?
Yeah, Canada is hugely influenced by the USA so anything that’s big in the USA will be big there. Canada has really great smaller scenes, more underground dance music that people don’t necessarily hear about, but generally it will just be similar to the US top 40. You don’t have BBC there or Rinse FM that plays new grounbreaking music, it’s a much more reserved musical scene. That’s why I came to the UK instead of America.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2013?
I’ll be doing a lot of radio and I’m producing nearly every day. I’m constantly in the studio and I’m working on an album for the end of next year. And you’ll catch me all over the festival circuit this summer. It’s going to be very busy. I’m kind of scared about it actually…