“When I rack my brain to think of famous South Asian names in mainstream music,” says Nabihah Iqbal, “the only two I can think of would be MIA and Zayn Malik. That’s it.” Sitting outside of Peckham’s Rye Wax, Iqbal is about to DJ at the first edition of No ID, a new party created by More Time Records founder and DJ Ahad Elley, better known as Ahadadream. “For me,” she continues, “that’s quite shocking considering the history of the South Asian diaspora, especially the fact that we have always been involved in the arts and music.”
When she starts playing, Iqbal spins Bollywood bangers, soulful disco and funk before ending her set with slippery-bass music that gets the milling crowd on their feet. Initially sprawled over the couches and chairs in Rye Wax, the audience - mostly South Asian, mostly young - have started mingling, and it feels like threads of the South Asian diaspora in London are coming together to create a fully formed unit.
“I just felt like there wasn’t anything like this at all,” Ahad Elley tells DJ Mag an hour before No ID kicks off. “You’ve got some platforms where you can play British Asian music, but I noticed that there were a lot of [South Asian] people doing great things and a lot of different things, so I thought it would be great to have everyone under the same roof.” No ID is from the top-down fully South Asian, with even the poster design and logo created by Amad Ilyas, a Pakistani designer and art director based in New York City. On the night, the line-up consists of radio presenter and DJ Naina playing b2b alongside percussion-led sounds of Ahadadream before Noudle, a sound engineer, radio host and DJ takes over. Nabihah Iqbal, whose Ninja Tune album ‘Weighing Of The Heart’ ranked No.4 in our top albums of 2018, rounds off the bill a typically versatile and electrifying set.
It was, in fact, a party Iqbal hosted at Five Miles at the end of 2017 that was the initial inspiration for No ID. Playing alongisde selectors including Anu [Rhythm Section/NTS] and Manara [Rinse FM], Iqbal's party featured a line-up comprised entirely of Asian DJs, something she had never experienced before in the context of the capital's club scene. “I’ve been going out in London since I was 13,” Iqbal explains, “and it was the first time I had seen a bill with 100% Asian names not playing the kind of quintessential Asian music.”