Truancy Volume 107: Throwing Shade

Since forming in 2011, NTS radio has quite rapidly carved itself a host of talented presenters and artists to become one of London’s go-to stations for new and old music from across the globe. One particular artist who automatically springs to mind when mentioning NTS is London native Nabihah Iqbal, better known as Throwing Shade. Having been with the station for just over a year, she’s quickly rose to prominence as a DJ and presenter due to her broad musical knowledge and informative exploration of cultures. She’s just as confident doing a mix on the sounds of Muslim Jazz as she is basing entire shows on the theme of the Surbahar (bass sitar). With a growing fan base from her now bi-weekly radio shows alone, it also helps that her own productions have been sought after for releases by the likes of Kassem Mosse and The Kelly Twins for their own respected labels. Along with delivering our 107th Truancy Volume, we caught up with Throwing Shade for a brief chat about NTS, working on composing music for the Tate and how to find some of the more eclectic sounds on her shows.

Hey Nabihah, thanks again doing this mix for us! Just want to start by congratulating you on the new bi-weekly slot on NTS. Can we talk about how you first came to be on the station and any great memories or particular shows that have stood out for you now that you’re a seasoned presenter? “I started presenting my own monthly show on NTS in May 2013. Before that I went in as a guest on Thristian’s Global Roots show and it just so happened that the station manager was tuned in at the time. He really liked what I was doing and called up as soon as we went off air to offer me my own show! And that’s how it happened. Now, the radio show is one of my favourite things that I do. I have to put in a lot of time, researching the shows and putting them together, but I really love it. Recently, the shows that have stood out for me the most are the ‘Muslim Jazz’ Specials Part 1 and 2. Most of the music I play on these shows are by African-American jazz musicians who converted to Islam between the 1940s-70s. Part 1 has been my most popular show to date (nearly 3,000 listens on Mixcloud) and it feels amazing that so many people are tuning in and responding positively.”

You’ve been working with the Tate recently, having been commissioned to compose a piece of music as an audio response to the work of James Richards, and then also asked to do a live performance as part of BP Loud Tate. Did you find working on music in response to someone else’s work a completely different approach to your usual production methods, especially if you might not have heard of the artist before? “Yes, this project was a big challenge! I’d never made music in that way before – it was like making art about art. Very meta, but I enjoyed the process a lot. I went to look at ‘Rosebud’, James Richards’ work in the Turner exhibition, two or three times. I had to really think through the ideas that he was trying to convey through his artwork, and how I was going to do the same through my music. His work was a video piece and it already had a soundtrack to it, which I think made my task even harder as I didn’t want to be too influenced by it. The track which I composed is called “Touch” and it’s probably the most experimental thing I’ve made but I think I still managed to retain my signature ‘Throwing Shade’ sound in it. I wanted to explore ideas of censorship, and what constitutes something being ‘sexually explicit’, as Richards does in his work. So I sampled lots of sounds from internet pornography – the idea was to take the sounds out of their context and to see if they still held an ‘explicit’ or ‘arousing’ value. I also contrasted ‘harsh’ and ‘tender’ sounds within the track, as I felt that James Richards’ work was very much fixated on the juxtaposition between these two themes.”

From an outsider’s perspective it feels like your career as a DJ/Presenter as well as a producer have both had a natural rise together from early 2013, but I was keen to ask when exactly your interest in producing and DJing came about. Do you remember any particular records that inspired you to start producing or was it something that happened gradually? “Well, music has always been my favourite thing in the world and I’ve been playing instruments since I was very young – the guitar, piano, flute, and sitar. I remember getting interested in music production whilst I was still at school, so I enrolled in a course to learn more about it when I was 16 or 17. I’ve been making my own music from about that age I think. It’s gone through lots of different phases (I was even in a noise band at one point), but as Throwing Shade I’ve been producing since around 2012. I started DJing properly in 2010-11 I think.”

People have their usual and go-to outlets for buying new music such as Phonica, Idle Hands etc but for people interested in discovering and gaining a greater knowledge in the more eclectic music you play on your NTS shows, how would you recommend going about it? The music you’ve been playing in your ‘Muslim Jazz’ specials is a prime example. “I think Youtube is a really amazing way of discovering weird and wonderful music. If there’s a track you like, then you just take a stab at the ‘suggested videos’ and keep going and going. You’ll probably stumble across some interesting stuff. People also tell me that they find my NTS shows act as really good starting points for finding out about more music. I try and make the shows informative, and talk about the music I play, so that if someone is listening and hear something which grabs their attention, they can go and look it up, and try and find more like it. And then of course, just sifting through record shops, or crates in a market, and picking out stuff that might look like it could be a winner. My favourite record shops in London for this are El Dica, Sounds of the Universe, Zen Records and Honest Jon’s.”

I wanted to ask about the record on Happy Skull and how the Bristol link-up might have come about. Was the choice of going more dance-floor orientated with the tracks a conscious effort for the label? “The guys from Happy Skull just got in touch with me after hearing my Mystic Places release on Ominira and asked if I’d be up for doing a release with them. We met up when they came to London and got on well, and it all worked out from there. I don’t think having the more ‘dance-floor friendly’ tracks on the release was an especially conscious decision given the label. I was just working on those tracks at the time, setting myself the challenge of producing something more upbeat. I sent a bunch of tracks over to the Happy Skull guys and “Chancer” and “Blanx” were the ones that stood out the most to them. I was quite nervous about how they would be received as they are markedly a step away from the tracks on 19 Jewels, but they got a really positive reaction which felt good!”

Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us – how representative of your DJing style is it? “Very representative! When I DJ in clubs I just like playing stuff that will make people dance. I like mixing tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together, but that actually work really well. I like to move through different genres because I always find that it’s much more interesting that way, rather than just sticking to techno, or trap or whatever. There’s too much good stuff out there.”

With 2014 soon coming to a close can you sum up your experience of the year in a short sentence. “It’s been happy, amazing, and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2015 – just gotta keep working hard!”


A.G. Cook – Beautiful
Brackles – Palos Y Piedras
Throwing Shade – Britney Britney
Ana Caprix – I’m That Kind Of Grrl
Rihanna – Rude Boy (Nike 7UP Remix)
Nu Birth – Anytime
Santigold – You’ll Find A Way (Switch & Sinden Mix)
Dubbel Dutch – No Futuro
Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U
3 Of A Kind – Babycakes
Loom – RGB
Throwing Shade – Real Bad
C Powers – Phoenix Down
Danny L Harle – In My Dreams
Lockah – Unrealable
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Acapella)
Sophie – Nothing More To Say
Art Crime – Running Nowhere
Throwing Shade – Chancer
Oni Ayhun – OAR003 – B
Tears For Fears – Everbody Wants To Rule The World

Photo Credit  – Meike Lindstrom


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