"Lovely selection of classic underground house gems"
Songwriter, DJ and musician, Nabihah Iqbal, is one of the faces of a growing community of British Asian DJs.
The London artist has built up an impressive following due to her diverse range of musical knowledge.
Her experimental nature with genres such as indie, jazz, house and funky music is pushing the boundaries in an industry that can become repetitive.
Nabihah’s excellence also stems from her embrace of different cultures.
Whilst her own South Asian heritage plays a part in her DJ sets, she’s not afraid to play around with African, South American and European sounds.
From techno to reggae to Bollywood, the artist rejoices in the numerous identities of music and she brings that to the forefront in her mixes.
It explains why so many people love her performances. They’re all filled with soul, bass, soothing percussions and intriguing tones.
Her passionate and sometimes spiritual approach to music is refreshing and sets her apart in a competitive space.
Nabihah Iqbal’s range of DJ sets is to be admired and emphasises why she is a catalyst for emerging and established British Asian artists.
Boiler Room x VIVA! Festival
Starting with arguably Nabihah Iqbal’s most iconic DJ set is this electric performance in 2018.
The first two songs personify the type of daring artist Nabihah is.
She starts off with American blues singer Billy Stewart’s ‘Summertime’ and goes straight into Ananda Shankar’s ‘Streets of Calcutta’.
In the first six minutes, she exposes the audience to vibrant jazzy vocals and funky South Asian sitars. This sets the bar high and ignites onlookers.
However, the musician does not keep the set at one level.
She brings back major old-school vibes with Tarântulas’ ‘Saiba Ser Feliz’, which samples Michael Jackson’s 1979 anthem ‘Don’t Stop ’till You Get Enough’.
She adds Steven Perri and Zamaun’s jumpy hit ‘Street Scene’ and Kerri Chandler’s techno dance hit ‘Return 2 Acid’ for an extra twist. One fan, Ramon, commented about the set:
“Nice work! Fun vibes all around, a consistent variety of tracks and she is blending.”
Whilst these sounds are different in their own right, Nabihah seems to make it work effortlessly.
Her ability to provide a limitless amount of genres that fuse together to produce a cohesive DJ set is to be admired.
Turntable Lab NYC
Nabihah Iqbal’s Turntable Lab set in New York City showed more than just her vast taste in music. It also emphasised her skill as a DJ.
Using retro music, she also uses an old-fashioned way of mixing with actual vinyl records.
Whilst transitioning from one song to another can take longer than using modern methods, the changeover suits the mood of the mix.
Nabihah creates an ambience of calm, mellow, chill music where you feel like you’re in a 70s bar relaxing.
As the rhythm and blues selection takes over the mix, there are uplifting hits of reggae and Spanish beats which are welcomed.
Tracks like Mongo Santamaría’s ‘Malcolm X’, Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Drum Song’ and Batsumi’s ‘Lishonile’ show the creative structure of this mix.
The performance also illustrates Nabihah’s adaptability to different platforms and audiences.
Her style is not limited to one area and she can effortlessly operate in numerous spaces. One can easily get lost in time listening to this piece.
VF Live London
As the UK went through a nationwide lockdown in 2020 due to Covid-19, Nabihah kept putting out content.
During November of the same year, she did a live set from her home in London and played an hour’s worth of her favourite reggae records.
Choosing this lane for the mix, Nabihah stated before starting the mix:
“I was trying to figure out what I should play and I’ve been listening to loads of reggae because it just has good energy and makes you feel good.
“And I feel like all of us could do with a bit of that.”
Her cool surroundings included plants, natural light, incense, vinyls and fresh tea which played its part in creating a warm and alluring viewing experience.
As before, Nabihah used the old-fashioned way of mixing by using physical records instead of a laptop.
In some of the tracks, you can even hear crackles of old record players which does not take anything away from the mix and instead increases its authentic nature.
Some of the standouts from the performance include ‘Words of Wisdom’ by Dennis Brown, David Hinds’ ‘Steel Pulse’ and ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ by Bob Marley and The Wailers.
If you’re looking to escape the stresses of the world, then this is worth a listen.
LAB LDN Mixmag
Nabihah Iqbal hit the Mixmag stage in 2021 delivering the best in house, garage and UK dance music.
The mesmerising mix produces some of the DJ’s best work with seamless transitions, underground vocals and pleasing song selections.
Playing historical tracks like Solution’s ‘Feels So Right’ and Soundbwoy Killah’s ‘Burning/Moving On’ gives this mix added richness and complexity.
However, this mix stays in line with the tranquil energy Nabihah is known for and still achieves a distinct quality that sets it apart from other performances.
It’s one of those mixes that makes you appreciate great music and is able to be played for any occasion or mood.
Fans loved this performance and expressed their admiration on YouTube. One viewer, Omar, stated:
“Lovely selection of classic underground house gems.
“Bringing that proper UK vibe but keeping it hip and different.”
Although each of Nabihah’s mixes has different qualities, she always oozes so much passion for the music she plays.
Through her facial expressions and head-nodding approval of each track, you feel so much closer to the production of each song.
It’s what makes her an exceptional performer and artist.
My Analog Journal Guest Mix: Records from Africa
Again, showing her range of skill and musical knowledge, Nabihah shines in this set for My Analog Journal.
The performance which consists of a range of African records shows that not all DJs, especially British Asian ones, stick to a specific genre.
Nabihah is consistent in the way she pays homage to the artists that have impacted her own music taste but always shares this admiration in her mixes.
Using the Cameroon track ‘Na Real Sekele Fo Ya’ from Pasteur Lappe and Abdou El Omari’s ‘Alghoroub’ from Algeria, this set is a celebration of a whole continent.
It’s fiery and percussive but also highlights the differing instrumentation in each country using their songs.
Avid fan Jack Xavier left his comments after witnessing the set, saying:
“This is the kind of music that floats my heart.”
Performing from her house again, this set seems to tie in with Nabihah’s personality as you see her hypnotised by some of the tracks.
But, as the viewer, you understand how she feels once hearing the spiritual nature of each song. If you want some chill vibes, then this is the one for your playlist.
Nabihah Iqbal is a formidable DJ and these sets only hint at the type of talent she possesses as a musician.
The innovative figure also releases music of her own and she avidly does live performances where she sings and plays the guitar.
Not only is she serving up incredible performances as a DJ but she is lighting up the music scene for her culture and emerging British Asian artists.
But, she is also setting the bar for the music industry as a whole with her versatility, catalogue of skills and deep investment into her craft.
Nabihah Iqbal is definitely a DJ to keep on your playlist.