Nabihah Iqbal

DJ/Producer — London

Name
Nabihah Iqbal

Where are you from?
London, born and bred.

What do you do?
I’m a DJ, producer and radio presenter.

Describe your style in three words
No categories please.

What are you up to at the moment?
I’m spending a lot of time in the studio, working on new music. The new tunes are sounding really different to my previous releases. There’s a lot more guitar, but it still incorporates the electronic element.
I’ve got a few interesting things coming up – I’m collaborating with Wolfgang Tillmans as part of his exhibition at the Tate Modern. He does a lot with sound and music, and this exhibition shows his versatility. I’ll be giving a talk there on 20 Feb and I’m going to perform live on 11 March, with Wolfgang providing the visuals. I can’t wait!

Do you do everything yourself in the studio?
Yes. I’m still learning as I go along. I’m pretty much self-taught. It’s hard, but I’m always getting better. I want to keep it this way because, sometimes, when you’re a girl, people will offer you advice, or say, “do you need someone to come in and sit with you in the studio?” They just ask you that because you’re female and they assume you can’t do everything yourself. They’re wrong.

Can you play any instruments?
I play the flute, piano, sitar and guitar. I’ll play everything on my new record - mainly guitar and keyboards. I’m recording and producing it all myself.

How did you get into music?
Really unexpectedly. I did a lot of studying. I did the law conversion course and then the Bar, and I was working in law with a focus on human rights. Music has always been my favourite thing but I never thought I’d actually be doing it full time. I was DJ’ing at parties and making my own music too, just putting it up on SoundCloud, but I never thought anyone would really listen to it. But then Kassem Mosse heard my music on the internet and put out my first record. I also got offered a show on NTS Radio around the same time, and everything has just been gathering momentum since then.

Tell us more about your NTS show
I just did my 70th show on the station, it’s been almost four years now and I’m on every other Saturday. I like to play lots of different music from all around the world, and to talk about it a bit. I guess it reflects my undergraduate studies in Ethnomusicology a lot.

How do you discover new music?
It’s a combination of things. I have a lot of friends who work in music, so just talking to people can be a really good way of finding out about new tunes. I have to do a lot of research for my NTS show – exploring music and reading a lot about it. Obviously going into record shops is a fun way of discovering music. I also think YouTube is good at suggesting music you might like: you just start clicking and discovering.
I’m really interested in music from everywhere I go, as I like to make recordings for my radio show. I find that if you speak to taxi drivers in different countries about music, it’s a great way of finding out about the local music and as you’re in their car for a while you can actually have a proper chat with them.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
My first musical obsession was Michael Jackson. I’d listen to him all of the time.
But the first CD I went out and bought myself was the Oasis album ‘Definitely Maybe’ and the track I always had on repeat was ‘Live Forever’.

Do you have any female icons in music?
I really appreciate figures like Kate Bush, Sade, Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane – basically, before the era where everything was about being naked. It never used to be like that, when did that change happen? Kate Bush never had to sexually objectify her body but is still an amazing musician and singer. But now, if you are a female in the music industry, everything has to be overtly sexualised. It’s so annoying. For me, M.I.A is a contemporary artist who never really gets her body out and she always looks a million times cooler than people like Nicki Minaj.

I really like an African American guitarist called Elizabeth Cotten who was around in the ‘50s and ‘60s. She was self-taught and used to play the guitar upside down as she was left-handed. She only made her first recording when she was in her sixties – her day job was working as a house maid. The family she worked for noticed she was musical and encouraged her to play properly.

Are there certain songs that define the teenage you?
From the age of 9 or 10, I was into Oasis and the whole indie scene. I got really into them. Liam and Noel used to live really close to where I grew up and I always wanted to talk to them but I was too shy.
In my teens, I got more into the punk scene. I was dressing crazily and I always had different coloured hair. I was listening to loads of old music – Black Flag, ‘80s stuff like Sonic Youth, The Smiths, The Cure. My favourite band when I was a teenager were Capdown who are a modern punk/ska band. I discovered them before the internet and I sent their record label a letter telling them I loved them and that I would like to have a signed autograph. They sent me a signed CD and I was so happy!

I used to go to gigs all the time. I was always in Camden, but now it’s totally different which is a shame. I started hanging out there when I was 13 with all of my friends when the shops were a lot cooler. It was a totally different place. All those places we used to go to, they’ve gone.
The place where I went to my first gig, the Astoria, it’s not there anymore, and spots like Madam Jojo’s and the Metro Club have all gone.

Favourite gig?
When I was 17, I got really into folk music. I was into Joanna Newsom and when I saw her play the harp live for the first time it really blew me away as I’d been listening to her so much.
I remember the first ever gig I went to was the Wannadies at the Astoria. I won tickets through XFM. One thing I’d never forget was going to Reading Festival for the first time in the summer after my GCSEs. I literally didn’t sleep for four days. I remember watching Less Than Jake, At The Drive-In, AFI, Hundred Reasons, Interpol... That whole era of bands! All my friends were there and we had the best time ever.

 

Name
Nabihah Iqbal

Where are you from?
London, born and bred.

What do you do?
I’m a DJ, producer and radio presenter.

Describe your style in three words
No categories please.

What are you up to at the moment?
I’m spending a lot of time in the studio, working on new music. The new tunes are sounding really different to my previous releases. There’s a lot more guitar, but it still incorporates the electronic element.
I’ve got a few interesting things coming up – I’m collaborating with Wolfgang Tillmans as part of his exhibition at the Tate Modern. He does a lot with sound and music, and this exhibition shows his versatility. I’ll be giving a talk there on 20 Feb and I’m going to perform live on 11 March, with Wolfgang providing the visuals. I can’t wait!

Do you do everything yourself in the studio?
Yes. I’m still learning as I go along. I’m pretty much self-taught. It’s hard, but I’m always getting better. I want to keep it this way because, sometimes, when you’re a girl, people will offer you advice, or say, “do you need someone to come in and sit with you in the studio?” They just ask you that because you’re female and they assume you can’t do everything yourself. They’re wrong.

Can you play any instruments?
I play the flute, piano, sitar and guitar. I’ll play everything on my new record - mainly guitar and keyboards. I’m recording and producing it all myself.

How did you get into music?
Really unexpectedly. I did a lot of studying. I did the law conversion course and then the Bar, and I was working in law with a focus on human rights. Music has always been my favourite thing but I never thought I’d actually be doing it full time. I was DJ’ing at parties and making my own music too, just putting it up on SoundCloud, but I never thought anyone would really listen to it. But then Kassem Mosse heard my music on the internet and put out my first record. I also got offered a show on NTS Radio around the same time, and everything has just been gathering momentum since then.

Tell us more about your NTS show
I just did my 70th show on the station, it’s been almost four years now and I’m on every other Saturday. I like to play lots of different music from all around the world, and to talk about it a bit. I guess it reflects my undergraduate studies in Ethnomusicology a lot.

How do you discover new music?
It’s a combination of things. I have a lot of friends who work in music, so just talking to people can be a really good way of finding out about new tunes. I have to do a lot of research for my NTS show – exploring music and reading a lot about it. Obviously going into record shops is a fun way of discovering music. I also think YouTube is good at suggesting music you might like: you just start clicking and discovering.
I’m really interested in music from everywhere I go, as I like to make recordings for my radio show. I find that if you speak to taxi drivers in different countries about music, it’s a great way of finding out about the local music and as you’re in their car for a while you can actually have a proper chat with them.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
My first musical obsession was Michael Jackson. I’d listen to him all of the time.
But the first CD I went out and bought myself was the Oasis album ‘Definitely Maybe’ and the track I always had on repeat was ‘Live Forever’.

Do you have any female icons in music?
I really appreciate figures like Kate Bush, Sade, Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane – basically, before the era where everything was about being naked. It never used to be like that, when did that change happen? Kate Bush never had to sexually objectify her body but is still an amazing musician and singer. But now, if you are a female in the music industry, everything has to be overtly sexualised. It’s so annoying. For me, M.I.A is a contemporary artist who never really gets her body out and she always looks a million times cooler than people like Nicki Minaj.

I really like an African American guitarist called Elizabeth Cotten who was around in the ‘50s and ‘60s. She was self-taught and used to play the guitar upside down as she was left-handed. She only made her first recording when she was in her sixties – her day job was working as a house maid. The family she worked for noticed she was musical and encouraged her to play properly.

Are there certain songs that define the teenage you?
From the age of 9 or 10, I was into Oasis and the whole indie scene. I got really into them. Liam and Noel used to live really close to where I grew up and I always wanted to talk to them but I was too shy.
In my teens, I got more into the punk scene. I was dressing crazily and I always had different coloured hair. I was listening to loads of old music – Black Flag, ‘80s stuff like Sonic Youth, The Smiths, The Cure. My favourite band when I was a teenager were Capdown who are a modern punk/ska band. I discovered them before the internet and I sent their record label a letter telling them I loved them and that I would like to have a signed autograph. They sent me a signed CD and I was so happy!

I used to go to gigs all the time. I was always in Camden, but now it’s totally different which is a shame. I started hanging out there when I was 13 with all of my friends when the shops were a lot cooler. It was a totally different place. All those places we used to go to, they’ve gone.
The place where I went to my first gig, the Astoria, it’s not there anymore, and spots like Madam Jojo’s and the Metro Club have all gone.

Favourite gig?
When I was 17, I got really into folk music. I was into Joanna Newsom and when I saw her play the harp live for the first time it really blew me away as I’d been listening to her so much.
I remember the first ever gig I went to was the Wannadies at the Astoria. I won tickets through XFM. One thing I’d never forget was going to Reading Festival for the first time in the summer after my GCSEs. I literally didn’t sleep for four days. I remember watching Less Than Jake, At The Drive-In, AFI, Hundred Reasons, Interpol... That whole era of bands! All my friends were there and we had the best time ever.

 

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