Throwing Shade is the nom de plume of London producer Nabihah Iqbal. As she explains below, her musical education started with seeing a Michael Jackson documentary at a surprisingly young age, and the learning's never stopped: she studied ethnomusicology at university, went on to become known for her globetrotting sets on London internet station NTS Radio, and releases records on taste-making local label, No Pain In Pop. For her FADER Mix, she's flipped the script, delivering a stellar mixtape of Throwing Shade productions so we can get to know her a lil better, too. It's really something, showcasing her ear for beguiling audio artifacts and her skill in sonic storytelling. Not to mention, she's a hella good DJ. Listen below, and scroll down to find out how a shop floor mannequin and a South Pole explorer have shaped her world.
Where are you right now? Please describe your surroundings.
Right now I'm on a Eurostar train heading from London to Paris. We're currently gliding through the tunnel so it's complete darkness outside, and the tube lighting in the carriage feels clinical and oppressive. I'm looking forward to emerging from the subterrane, and to the return of sunshine.
Tell us a bit about the mix—what do you imagine people doing while listening to it?
This is a 100% Throwing Shade mix! Loads of my tracks and remixes, strung together to hopefully take the listener on a cosmic journey. I imagine people just chilling out on a hot summer's evening, around sunset, whilst listening to the mix.
What's your earliest musical memory?
Watching a TV documentary about Michael Jackson when I was 1 or 2, and becoming obsessed with him! My parents then had to buy me a Michael Jackson video to keep me [quiet] because I wouldn't stop going on about it. I must have watched it a thousand times!
The cover art for your most recent EP, Fate Xclusive, is pretty striking—can you talk me through it?
I did all the artwork for this release myself. I had a strong idea of what I wanted it to be, so I thought I might as well try it! I basically had to teach myself how to use Photoshop, etc. which was a challenge, but it felt like a very satisfying endeavor once the final product was ready. I chose the color red for this record, because red is such an amazing, powerful and symbolic color, yet it seems to have gone a bit out of fashion. You don't really see it much on artwork or in photo shoots these days. Everyone's just still on the whole pastel shade thing. So my choice is also a reaction to that trend.
The image of a headless shop mannequin, clad in a tacky belly-dancing outfit, is quite open to interpretation, I think. For me, the ersatz portrayal of the female form, all shiny and rigid, acts as a commentary on how the female body is so often objectified and used as a commodity, as well as being used to sell us other products, too.
What's the last book that had a big impact on you and why?
I've just finished reading Captain Scott's Journal of his Last Expedition, when he attempted to become the first person to reach the South Pole. The expedition took place in 1912. It was an extremely fascinating and inspiring read. It is amazing what humans are capable of. The men in his team were subjected to constant temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees celsius and gale force winds, especially during the final part of the expedition. I can't even imagine what that must be like! Especially in 1912, without the aid of all the technology we have today.
When the men finally reach the South Pole, they realize that they've been beaten by the Norwegians—by only a matter of days. They then have to endure an 800-mile trek back to their base camp, having missed out on their life goal so narrowly. The way this affects their health and morale is communicated poignantly through Scott's writing. And the ending is so sad, it made me cry.
1. We Belong Together (Throwing Shade Remix) - Mariah Carey
2. Pure Life - Throwing Shade
3. Lovers In A Scene - Throwing Shade
4. 4Drake - Throwing Shade
5. 4eva Fate - Throwing Shade
6. Hashtag IRL - Throwing Shade
7. 2006 - Throwing Shade
8. Daydream - Throwing Shade
9. Mirror - Throwing Shade
10. Chancer - Throwing Shade
11. Mystic Places - Throwing Shade
12. Adagio for Britney - Throwing Shade
13. Lights - Throwing Shade
14. Fear Of Silence - Throwing Shade
If you're London-based, catch Throwing Shade in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern on Saturday 25 July, 7pm.