Welcome to Mixmag's South Asian Series - Features - Mixmag

Welcome to Mixmag's South Asian Series

Mixmag presents a week of editorial features dedicated to South Asian artists, scenes, histories and issues

  • Mixmag
  • 6 September 2021

Welcome to Mixmag's South Asian Series, view the features here and read our introductory notes below

A message from Mixmag

South Asian culture has such a rich and influential history, birthing and continuing to produce many of the world’s finest examples of music, food, film, fashion and more. The region has thrived in cultural fields since civilizations first arose, and its impact can be found across all corners of the globe. This week at Mixmag we’ll be dedicating all of our features to South Asian artists, scenes, histories and issues for our first South Asian Series of editorial.

Across the week we’ll be exploring topics spanning the extensive influence of South Asian sounds on the worldwide music scene, diving deep into the contemporary scene on the subcontinent and its diaspora further afield, the experience of clubbing from a South Asian perspective and how identity informs daily lives, interviewing many of the leading South Asian music figures, spending time with localised South Asian communities and finding out how music forms a rich part of their lives and culture, and more.

This dedicated South Asian Series of editorial follows on from our award-winning Blackout Week series last year, responding to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the overdue reckoning for the world to answer for systemic racism. At the time, we reflected on Mixmag’s own role in whitewashing dance music and the gaps and oversights in our editorial coverage, and made a start towards redressing those imbalances. Our South Asian Series is intended to spotlight the enormous impact of a community that has also been unfairly overlooked and underrepresented by ourselves and the wider media for too long, and act as a launchpad into a continuation of greater recognition for the artists and music they produce.

The series is guest edited by DJ, producer, musician and broadcaster Nabihah Iqbal, with every commissioned writer, designer, photographer and artist involved being of South Asian heritage. Nabihah is established as a vital artist in music, releasing a range of club-ready and blissed-out records on labels such as Ninja Tune, helming a long-running NTS show where she plays expansive and enlightening sets, and she is also an influential voice standing up for her beliefs and community. Outside of music, she studied a joint honours BA in History and Ethnomusicology at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a postgraduate MPhil at Cambridge University focused on South African history, a law conversion, and has spent time working as a human rights lawyer in South Africa.

We hosted a launch party for the South Asian Series in The Lab LDN on Friday with Nabihah Iqbal on hosting duties and DJ Priya, Darama, Ahadadream and Manara laying down incendiary sets. We’ll be publishing features daily across this week, ahead of the South Asian-focused Dialled In festival, which has invited a full South Asian line-up to play in North-East London on September 11.

We hope you enjoy the series. Read on for Nabihah Iqbal’s editor note and Aniruddh Mehta’s note on the design identity.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter

A message from Nabihah Iqbal

It has been a real honour to put together this special issue of Mixmag, spotlighting some of the incredible work and talent amongst South Asians in the music scene. As a community, we’ve been consistently underrepresented in Western mainstream media and culture, as well as in the music industry, but things feel like they are slowly beginning to change for the better, and I hope this project can contribute to that shift in a positive way. It’s about time.

As part of this ‘South Asian Series’, we're highlighting people who are making waves in music from across South Asia, as well as the diaspora. We are a truly international creative community, and thanks to the internet and the ease of communication, we are able to forge those bonds with each other across borders and continents, like never before. What is happening now is an incredible movement, fuelled by a fervent energy and determination, and it will only grow stronger. It is an amazing thing to witness and to be a part of, and I hope that we can build more solidarity across our own communities at the same time as gaining recognition by others. I want to see our generation lead the way for rising above the ‘divide and conquer’ tactics left behind by British colonialism.

As South Asians, we come from such a rich and ancient culture, and we should be proud of who we are. However, the truth is that ‘identity’ can often feel like a complicated, antagonistic knot within ourselves, especially for diasporic communities. You can often feel split between two cultures, and not sure of where you belong or how to present yourself. For diasporic South Asians, including those who have been brought up in the UK like myself (born in London to Pakistani parents), figuring out who you are is a constant journey. When you live in a society where more often than not, the Brown people we see in the media are depicted as terrorists, geeks, comedic corner-shop owners, victims of oppression, or as sycophants of Western culture, sometimes in an effort to distance ourselves from these Orientalist stereotypes, we end up trying to disassociate ourselves from our ‘Brownness’. But this will never be the answer. We need to take ourselves seriously, in order for others to take us seriously, to respect us and to value us. This is where community and solidarity play such a vital role.

Within the music scene, and also the wider creative world, we need to help and support each other. This message does not only apply the South Asian community – it applies to each and every one of us, regardless of ethnicity or background. We need to work together to create a reality where people are not forced into stereotypes, or side-lined because of who they are and what they look like. Some of us have more power and therefore more responsibility than others to create that safe, inclusive and diverse space. Everyone deserves the freedom to be whoever they want to be, safe in the knowledge that their identity will not jeopardize their chances of succeeding in the music industry, or any other industry for that matter. I hope we get to a point where there won’t be a need for dedicating a magazine issue to a specific minority community. The music industry has a very long way to go in terms of improving inclusivity, representation, and equality, but we can start here.

Every artist, DJ, label, collective – every contributor that is featured within this issue of Mixmag is a true inspiration to me, and I hope they can inspire many more of us who are from minority backgrounds. For South Asians, this issue is a testament to all the incredible work and energy of our community – it makes me proud to be who I am, and it should make us all proud.

Follow Nabihah Iqbal on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

A message from Aniruddh Mehta

The intent behind the identity was to create a design language that is intrinsically South Asian by integrating decorative floral motifs commonly found across regional artforms, while also repurposing those elements to fit within a contemporary landscape that best represents unique South Asian talent across various creative fields. The custom wordmark itself is inspired by weavework made of sharp faceted curves and parallel lines.

Aniruddh Mehta is a graphic designer and the founder of Studio Bigfat, a Mumbai-based multi-disciplinary design studio. Check out Studio Bigfat's website and Instagram

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