Many musicians like to speak of versatility, but Nabihah Iqbal has better grounds than most. She boasts an MPhil (focused on African history) from Cambridge, experience working in human rights law and a black belt in Karate. Formerly known as Throwing Shade, she’s ditched that moniker to embrace the name she was born with. Readying her debut album for Ninja Tune, ‘Weighing of the Heart’ is a big statement in two ways: first, because she’s taken her real name to stand proudly as a female British Asian artists making music and, secondly, because she’s moved her music in a bolder, more expansive direction.
Discussing the change in name, she explains how she’d grown out of her previous alias. “I chose the Throwing Shade name in 2009 when I was just DJing at parties, unaware of a possible music career. It was a name for the scene at the time,” she says. Having had worries when she was growing up about teachers mispronouncing it, there’s a confidence which underpins both that decision as well this project as a whole. “The change to my real name feels like moving forward,” she states. “It feels like the right thing to do.”
Born in London in the late ‘80s, she’s the daughter of parents who moved to the UK from Pakistan. Growing up, she was encouraged to play music and had lessons every day, learning the guitar, the flute and the piano. Her listening habits started with Michael Jackson: the first artist she remembers listening (and dancing) to, and she has a wall full of Michael Jackson posters in her music studio. Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’ would be another early touchstone. It was the first CD Nabihah bought and she remembers how she made her own Oasis T-shirt with fabric paint when she was about 8 years old, because she couldn't get hold of a real one.