Throwing Shade is London alt-pop's new hope

With her 19 Jewels EP, streaming inside, producer Nabihah Iqbal steps out from night-running into new pop space

Throwing Shade - credit Nina

Between her NTS show and the SHEIKHA nights she’s been running for a minute now with south London experimentalist Felicita, Throwing Shade has had a hand in shaping London’s future-facing underground for a while. But 19 Jewels, her new EP on No Pain In Pop, looks set to turn the city’s eyes and ears on her. With all the skewed pop spirit of her earlier reworkings of Beyonce and Mariah, 19 Jewels shows Nabihah Iqbal’s talent for creating her own sticky-sweet hooks with the likes of “Sweet Tooth” and “Real Bad”, lacing her gauzy beats with moments of tension and heat. Get inside her mind via the exclusive EP stream below and our chat about what Blade Runner, palm trees and gamelan have to do with her tunes.

What's the significance of "19 Jewels"?

It's a reference to Soviet-era clockwork and a very good friend of mine.

What's the perfect environment you can imagine listening to the EP in?

You know that part in Blade Runner where Deckard meets Dr. Tyrell and Rachel for the first time? In that big, gold and black room that looks like the interior of a pyramid? That would be the perfect environment.

Having played in Thai, Turkish, Balinese and more ensembles, do you find these influences coming through in the rhythms and textures of your own productions?

Subconsciously, they probably do. People often tell me that they can hear certain influences of other musical traditions in my music. I don't actively think about gamelan or Turkish maqam when I make my music but everything that comes out of my head is a mixture of what's inside it.

Are you still working with SOPHIE and Felicita? Will there be any more SHEIKHA nights?

I hope there will be! We've all been busy focusing on our own things but we should do another SHEIKHA night soon. Nevertheless, we hang out a lot and we do tend to play together quite regularly at various parties around London.

You played at Cafe Oto last week, surrounded by potted plants. What is it about performing through the greenery that appeals?

I always have plants on stage when I play live and I like to hear people's different interpretations of why they are there. At Cafe Oto last week one person told me they thought I have the plants there to help balance out technology with nature. Someone else thought it was a reference to my name “Throwing Shade” and imagined palm trees in the desert “throwing” down “shade” and offering physical and spiritual solace from the beating heat of the sun. That was a pretty deep one.

What's next for Throwing Shade?

I'm just always going with the flow.

More Arts+Culture