a lesson in throwing shade by nabihah iqbal

Meet the NTS Radio presenter, Ninja Tune producer, and DJ who is just as cool hashtag IRL.

by Francesca Dunn
31 March 2016, 3:06pm

With a masters in African history from Cambridge and work in human rights law under her belt, you might be surprised (but you should be impressed) to discover that Nabihah Iqbal also has her very own radio show on NTS and produces under the name Throwing Shade. The voice of SOPHIE's Lemonade, the Londoner has been making music since her late teens and works from her home studio set-up. Describing her music as "cosmic melodies with sensory qualities" and new BBK signing Drake as her dream collaborator, she's just released her House of Silk EP -- a five-track record intended to take listeners on an journey through five different emotional states -- on Ninja Tune. Adding yet another skill to her already impressive CV, Nabihah recently presented i-D's Relocate series, in which she explored the opportunities for young people in the burgeoning cultural scenes of Lisbon and Leipzig. Meet our new pal!

Do you consider yourself predominantly a producer, DJ or presenter?
All three, in equilibrium.

What do you hope to achieve with your music?
I want it to take people on a transcendental journey.

Who is the last person you threw shade at?
Well I'm on a plane right now and there's a really annoying kid who won't stop screaming so I can't help but give her evils. She needs to shut up.

And the last person who threw it at you?
I wouldn't know.

What does NTS mean to you?
My NTS Radio show is one of my favorite things to do. For me, it provides an important platform where I can share interesting and diverse music with my listeners and vice versa -- I get a lot of messages from people who tune in with their own musical suggestions, which I always try and share on the show too. I find NTS has a real connecting force.

What makes a good radio presenter and who is the best in your eyes?
You need to be eloquent and you need to know what you are talking about. It has to come from the heart because I think people pick up on that. There are a lot of good ones. I like Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4's Today Program.

What is your favorite sound?
Early morning birdsong.

Is there a certain song that reminds you of your childhood?
Probably something by Oasis -- "Wonderwall" or "Live Forever."

If money were no object, what would your live show be like?
I'd have a set built that looked like the black and gold pyramid room from Bladerunner, where Deckard first meets Rachael. I'd have special scents diffused throughout the space -- something woody and mysterious. I'd want the experience to be as immersive as possible for the audience. Maybe I'd have the audience lying down. The space would be quite dark, but nevertheless stimulating. I'd want to create as much of a synthesis as possible between my music and the setting.

What's the most interesting set you've ever played?
Last year I played a live show in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. That was pretty epic. I don't know if I'll ever play in such a huge space again. There was so much natural reverb so I just turned down all my effects, and let the space do its thing. From one end of the hall to the other there is a 15-second delay in the sound. So when you walked in from the far end, you got immersed in a kind of sound soup which defined itself as you got closer and closer to the stage. It was a very special show.

What do you listen to in your down time?
Lots of different stuff. I like listening to jazz in the mornings. Recently I've been listening to the extended version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" on repeat. The energy from that track is incredible. Perfect guitar.

If you could only listen to the music of one country for the rest of your life, which country would you pick and why?
Tough question! I think I'd just have to stick with my neck of the woods and say the UK. There is a lot of amazing British music which I have a close affinity too, especially the stuff that I was listening to growing up, and so I like the nostalgia factor of it.

What are your feelings on lack of female DJs and producers on line-ups?
It's something that needs to change and female DJs / producers just need to keep working hard until they get the recognition they deserve. It's not about positive discrimination -- it's about people shaking off their prejudices and preconceptions, and approaching the work of female DJs and producers with the same attitude as people have regarding male DJs and producers.

Do you feel like there's a cultural shift happening?
No. Just a homogenizing amalgamation of all fads and cultures, thanks to the internet.

What producer are you predicting big things from this year?

Finish the sentence: the music sounds better with... no distractions.


Photography Cat Stevens 

ninja tune
PC Music
throwing shade
music interviews
nabihah iqbal