For The Love Of It – Series 2: Nabihah Iqbal

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Nabihah Iqbal is behind the decks for this month’s instalment of For The Love Of It, in association with Pioneer DJ. The British-Pakistani artist, curator, broadcaster and lecturer first tried production when she was a teenager, and picked up DJing shortly after. “The two go hand-in-hand I think,” she explains. “When I got into [production] more seriously, it was in tandem with DJing.”

With over a decade’s worth of experience under her belt, Nabihah released ‘DREAMER’, an album comprising her most reflective work to date, in April via Ninja Tune. Written in the aftermath of a studio burglary that included the loss of an already-in-progress LP, and a trip to Pakistan in light of a family emergency, she found herself reconnecting with her musical roots and going back to basics.

Nabihah recalls hearing Pakistani music via TV shows, radio and old films as a child. “That has had an impact on me especially in more recent times after studying ethnomusicology when I was at university and learning about musical cultures around the world,” she explains.

Having started her production journey crafting purely instrumental music, Nabihah moved past the apprehension she had integrating her own voice, thanks to encouragement from close friend and pioneering artist SOPHIE. “She taught me so much about how to record vocals, how to produce them and mix them,” says Iqbal. “I remember that time when we were in the studio together, I learned so much.”

‘DREAMER’ builds from all of the above. It’s a layered listen that draws upon her experiences utilising a blend of instruments – guitar, harmonium and sitar – electronic production, and her own vocals. “It feels like I’ve come a long way since the first record,” she says. “It feels like catharsis really, because it was so difficult for me to make that record, and there’s so much emotion and feeling and personal connection in that.”

To celebrate the release of ‘DREAMER’, Nabihah joined us at CLASH Studios to play an exclusive mix on our Pioneer’s CDJ3000’s and new DJMA9 Mixer. 

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For The Love Of It, a joint venture between CLASH and Pioneer DJ, expands its reach by probing deeper into international club culture and cross-cultural connections, honing in on the ways these external influences impact personal development and production style. 

For The Love Of It: Series 2 captures in-demand electronic acts crafting and performing sets in self-styled dominions. We document how their creativity has been informed by their foundations in different cultural settings, and how these artists reconcile and blend local sounds with around-the-globe influences. Ultimately, Series 2 is about the hybridity of music today, and the communal ties that tether artists to diverse subcultures. This fluidity in expression comes through in an exclusive mix created by each artist for the series. Revisit episode one and two of our sophomore run of ‘For The Love Of It’, with Birmingham-bred DJ Jossy Mitsu and South East London “singing selector” Ell Murphy.

Words: Grant Brydon

Production: Garry Jones