For those who don’t know you, tell us about your career and what you are working on at the moment.
My name is NabihahIqbal and I'm from London. I'm a musician and a DJ, producer and broadcaster, basically, everything to do with music. At the moment I'm feeling quite good because I just finished making my second album, which will be released in early 2023. That's the biggest thing for me. Apart from that, I am doing my radio show. I've got a regular show on NTS, which is a London-based online station. I've been presenting there for nearly ten years now, which is really long.I am curating different events. I do a project called Glory to Sound where I invite different music artists and all come and take part. I'm putting together a new series in this amazing museum here in London called Layton House that is starting in November 2022 and will go into next year. I am just busy with different projects and gigs and loads of emails.
When and how did you meet Renli Su? Which are your brand’s favourites?
How do we meet? Well, I first found out about Renli Su when I was shopping. I think it was in Selfridges, London. I didn't know about the brand before, but then I was just looking around and I remember seeing Renli Su rail and these really beautiful, sheer black silk kind of dresses, maybe like mulberry silk or something. The design and the aesthetic really stood out to me and I really liked it because actually there aren't a lot of people doing what you're doing. I bought two dresses and then this white blouse, which hasamazinghugesleevesand it ties up. Whenever I wear any of those things, I always get loads of compliments. I feel like Renli Su is just a whole aesthetic in itself. When you look at pictures of people wearing your outfits, or when you look at the collection, you just see how everything fits together so nicely. From the jewellery to the shoes to all the other accessories, and then, obviously, the main garments. I feel like there are so many fashion brands out there and everyone's trying to make something cool and, you know, you might find, like, one good pair of trousers somewhere, or one good dress, but then with Renli Su, I feel like its whole world and you kind of go into it and then it really transports you, even if you're just wearing one of the items.
London certainly opens your eyes to different cultures. Do you take inspiration from the people you meet daily?
As a Londoner, born and bred, I love this city so much. I've actually just been away for the last couple of months in the countryside working on my music, which was a good experience because there were no distractions but I'm so happy to come back to London. Even if I'm away for a couple of days, when I come back, you just get that same feeling in your body of, like, yes, I'm back in London. There's just something really unique about this place because I feel like in the whole world, there are hardly any examples that come close to London in terms of a good multicultural society where it really doesn't matter who you are
or what you look like or where you come from. Everyone's pretty chilled here and you can just do what you like. No one's going to stare at you or act strange with you. There's just so much diversity. I'm really grateful for that and I definitely find a lot of inspiration in the city. Some of my work is really directly inspired by London. For example, a track on my last album, which was called Zone 1 to 6000, is actually the most popular track from that record. It was inspired by William Blake's poem“London”.The whole song is about the feeling of living in a big city, a really big, busy city, and what that means. Then I just did this other project a few months ago at South Bank called Cascade, and that was like a big sound performance with the spoken word. That was all about the history of the River Thames and different stories connected to the river and the city that are kind of under the radar. So, yeah, there are definitely clear links between my work and London.
How would you say your cultural heritage influences your music?
Both of my parents are from Pakistan. Because I'm part of a diaspora community in the second generation from an immigrant family here in the UK, there are loads of different strands that I can draw on when I think about my identity, heritage and culture. In terms of identity, I think this is something you start paying attention to as you get older. I’ve never paid much attention during school, maybe not even at uni, you just got on with it. After that, maybe you think about how it gets into your work, you think about how it gets into your clothes, all of your collections, etc. I think as a creative person, you start thinking about where all these ideas come from. What am I trying to say with my work? So now I think about it a lot more.
Talking about cultural heritage, tell us about meeting Nicholas and your recent wedding. Such an interesting theme. Congratulations!
I’ve just got married in August 2022, so a couple of months ago to Nicholas Daley who is a fashion designer. We’ve been together for 9 years so I guess it was about time. We got married in London at the Institute of contemporary arts and we just had a massive wedding and a massive party. It was so fun to have all our friends and family there. It was a big culture clash wedding because obviously I was bringing the Pakistani element and Nicholas is half Scottish and half Jamaican. The theme of the party was “going back to your roots” because all of our friends come from so many different places so we wanted them to make an effort with their outfits. There were people wearing Japanese Kimonos, and Swedish people wearing trousers made of reindeer leather when it must have been so hot! It was really hot that day! We had a friend from Liverpool and she came wearing leggings, her hair in rollers and she was wearing a little handbag. We had other friends in outfits from Sierra Leone and Nigeria, India and Pakistan Outfits. It felt really good and obviously just celebrating the day with Nicholas felt really nice. I’ve never thought about getting married before, to be honest. I just felt that I wasn’t that bothered, but it actually is a really nice feeling, I think. When you are with someone and then you know, it is like a mutual feeling that you both want to be with each other as long as possible and make it work. It is this new kind of happiness that I haven’t felt before. It is deeper. So that is a whole new feeling so I am happy about that.
How would you describe your music style? Can you please introduce a piece of your work to our audiences in China?
People always ask me what kind of music I make and if I can describe it. I think it is very difficult to answer this question when is your music. Primarily is electronic music. I use a lot of synthesizers and drum machines but then I also use my voice, for singing or spoken word lyrics. I also play guitar. There are always a lot of layers and textures in the music that I make. If there is one piece that I could share with the Chinese audience, it will probably be the track that I mentioned earlier called zone 1 to 6000 which came of my first album “Weighing of the heart”
Are there any future projects we should know about? What’s next in your diary?
In terms of future projects, the biggest thing on the horizon is my second album which is pretty much finished now and would be out in early 2023. Then, if everything goes to plan, I am guessing next year will be really busy with touring, a lot of shows, and just playing that album live. I have played in China a few times. Let’s see how things go. It will be great to get back there and do some more gigs.