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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicSlow jams to 'The Way You Make Me Feel':...

Slow jams to ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’: The inspiration of Nabihah Iqbal

Who knew the London-based multi-talent got into Jeff Buckley?

People who enjoy records tend to make great records (as I said in last week’s Madison McFerrin feature) and Nabihah Iqbal has made two in six years. This London-based artist, who will perform at Cafe Du Nord on Sat/3, wears many hats—fashionable ones. A trained ethnomusicologist and NTS radio show host, she has appeared on BBC networks such as Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network, World Service, and 6Music.

Yes, Iqbal began her professional life in law with a focus on human rights— but music has always been a passion. She DJed at parties, made her own songs, and shot them out on Soundcloud. An offer to record came along, and she began her show on NTS Radio around the same time.

Since 2013, she’s toured extensively as both a live act and DJ. Her debut album Weighing of The Heart was released on Ninja Tune in 2017. That launch featured post-punk influenced by house and electro, along with gleaming guitars and ambient synth tones recalling Chris & Cosey arrangements from the mid-’80s. She’s fearless with her collection of sounds, letting listeners connect their own dots.

DREAMER, her most recent project, was released in April and features post-punk, shoegaze, house, and electro selections. It’s a classic Iqbal sketchbook, a moodboard for her thoughts on existence and heartbreak.

On the single “Dreamer,” guitar lines sound golden. They complement the track’s video, which was shot in a 700-year-old palace in Old Lahore, and bring the viewer into a different realm of indie rock. The stunner of a song possesses that indie-jangle elegance which has so many Slumberland Records/San Francisco vibes.

She took time out of her hectic tour schedule to speak in-depth with us at 48hills about five albums that have influenced her. We are eternally grateful.


I was obsessed with him as a teenager but just basically rediscovered him over the past couple of years. [I] listened to him so much while making the new music for DREAMER, especially on long car journeys when I was heading to artist residencies, like in the countryside on a 10-hour drive to Scotland and all I listened to was Jeff Buckley on repeat. I will never get sick of that. Every time I listen to it, I hear something different.


Something I’m listening to loads now. It’s actually a record by a friend of mine Al—his artist’s name is Aldous RH and he’s in my live band. He makes amazing music. ‘Till Death Do Us Part is a mixture of songs he put out over the past 10 years. The title track is in my top 10 songs of all time. It’s such a good slow jam.


I have that on vinyl. He’s one of my all-time favorites. There is a track on there called “Pali Gap,” which is one of his lesser-known tracks. But for me, it’s one of my favorites, because when you listen to that you can hear how deep Jimi was in terms of trying to explore different electronic sounds through his guitar.

He was a pioneer in that sense as well. Coming up with different pedals working with Roger Mayer the sound engineer, building a custom gauge and custom pickup for his guitar when no one else was doing that. He was the first person to use stereophonic phasing in his recorded music and yeah, in “Pali Gap” there are a lot of different textures that you hear, but it’s all guitar.

Yeah, I love that one.


My favorite jazz record, my favorite jazz track of all time. When I first heard it, it just stopped me in my tracks. I think I was talking to someone, and I heard that music come on, and I just stopped because I needed to listen to it and figure out what it was.

It’s just one of the most beautiful pieces of music, ever. I chose it as my music to walk down the aisle to when I got married last year. I think everything Freddie Hubbard does is inspiring really, because throughout his whole career playing trumpet he’s just pushing boundaries. And as another artist, it’s just nice to see someone’s huge body of work and all the ways they’ve kind of shape-shifted through it and evolved. So that’s really inspiring.


I’d say I have to choose a Michael Jackson record because he’s my favorite musician of all time ever, forever. Always. Obviously, all the albums are incredible because he was such a prolific person and took the time to really craft his work. I would choose any of his but let us go with BAD. That reminds me of being a kid, growing up. There is a lot of nostalgia associated with it.

Micheal Jackson, I feel, is an inspiration for all musicians, everywhere. He’s still probably the most imitated, revered person. Everybody nowadays, all pop artists especially, have a bit of Michael Jackson influence in their work. You can really see that, and he lives on in that way. When I think of him, it’s like a force of nature, endless inspiration—but not just for me, for everyone really, and nothing can change that.

It’s incredible.

NABIHAH IQBAL Sat/3, doors 8pm, show 9pm. Cafe du Nord, SF. Tickets and more info here.

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John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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