It wasn’t a difficult decision for Nabihah Iqbal to veer from the career path she was on. After nearly a decade of studying, including a Masters at Cambridge, when the opportunity to do music full-time came up there was no contest. “Obviously my parents’ view is different,” she concedes.
Nabihah had just returned from a six-month stint working with human rights lawyers in South Africa and was settling into a job in London when she landed an NTS Radio residency in May 2013, and since then music has been the focus.
Backed by a degree in Ethnomusicology (the study of music in its cultural context), her radio shows are expansive, enlightening journeys across the globe, filled with rarities. Her productions are just as magical but more club-ready, described as “cosmic r’n’b” by the German techno don Kassem Mosse, who signed her debut after finding the tracks on SoundCloud.
“He contacted me under an alias at first so I didn’t know who it was,” she says. “So when he told me I was amazed.”
Now 28, she has an EP out on Ninja Tune, provided the vocals on Sophie’s breakout hit ‘Lemonade’ and was asked by the Tate to soundtrack Turner Prize-nominated art, sampling online porn to tackle themes of censorship. She also happens to be a black belt in karate. “My male friends tease me, saying, ‘You can’t do karate,’ then I’ll round-house kick them and they’re dying on the floor.” Underestimate Throwing Shade at your peril.
‘House Of Silk’ is out on Ninja Tune now
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter