Welcome to Downtime, a regular series in which we ask our favourite artists for their cultural recommendations. This month, we caught up with Nabihah Iqbal.
Nabihah Iqbal, formerly known as Throwing Shade, has been a key player in London’s electronic scene since her 2013 hypnotic two-tracker Mystic Places/Lights. Since then, the DJ and producer has released her debut album on Ninja Tune, the dream pop-indebted Weighing of the Heart, and held down one of NTS Radio’s most loved – and eclectic – residencies. Here, Iqbal talks us through her characteristically wide-ranging cultural recommendations.
Tess of the d’UrbervillesBy Thomas Hardy
I love this book because it’s quite tragic but Hardy doesn’t shy away from that fact. Sometimes when you read something or watch a film, you feel like there should be some sort of resolution or happy ending – but I don’t want to spoil it! The story is about a woman who is messed around by a lot of guys, and also just trapped in the society in which she lives. Also, one of my favourite things about the novel is its vivid descriptions of nature; I’ve never read words about nature in such a detailed, beautiful way.
William Blake – another legend. He was ostracised from the London art scene in his time because people just thought he was crazy. But I think it’s probably because he was in touch with things they weren’t in touch with – parts of his work are really dark and spiritual. I also feel an affinity with him because he’s a fellow Londoner and he weaves in the magical nature of living in a big, famous city. That’s something that I always think about when I cross the River Thames, and just stand on the bridge and look at the city. I look on and think about William Blake.
A Harlem Family 1967By Gordon Parks, for Life Magazine
I found out about photographer Gordon Parks a few years ago. I was playing in Toronto and there was an exhibition of his on at the National Gallery – I’d never heard of his work before that day. Parks is an African American photographer who started working in the 50s. His style is documentary photography, so it’s incredibly moving. He did this photo essay called A Harlem Family 1967 for Life Magazine, where he documented the reality of being a poor Black family living in Harlem at the time. It’s a really beautiful piece that’s still relevant now.
I’ve been doing karate since I was five and love it. It provides me with a contrast to all the music work I do sitting in the studio. When I go for training in the evening, I find it very meditative, even though it’s really difficult and intense. Being able to block everything else out and just concentrate on my body, my movements and my breath has been so important for me, especially after last year. It’s a lifelong practice.
Nabihah Iqbal appears at Labyrinth at Tofte Manor on 7 August