Migrant Footprint: Haseeb Iqbal

"Migration has and always will be a huge part of my life purely for the reason that London is my home."

Words by The Right To Dance

Writer, DJ, and broadcaster Haseeb Iqbal is no stranger to the multicultural influence of music and its impact on the UK's cultural scene, born to Pakistani immigrants in London and a prominent voice platforming sounds from the global majority in his work.

Back in August, Haseeb helped launch our Migrant Footprint panel concept, hosting a talk at We Out Here with Jamz Supernova, Neue Grafik and AQWEA. We caught up with him to reflect on the first sit-down and discuss the importance of migration within music.

What made you interested in working with The Right To Dance and supporting War Child?

I was asked to host a panel discussion at We Out Here Festival exploring how the movement of people across borders has informed club culture and musical movements. I’m aware that The Right To Dance and War Child are doing really important work in protecting children who are living in areas where war and conflict is having a damaging impact on their livelihood and freedom. I thought it would be cool to steer a discussion that explored how the movement of people has created positive cultural movements around the world – especially at a festival where the brilliance and virtuosity of the lineup is very much down to its incredible diversity. Festivals can be fast-paced environments and the lifestyle of a DJ and musician can mean we often move forward without much time to pause. It felt refreshing to take a moment out of the manic energy of the weekend to appreciate how we got here.

Were there any key insights, stories, or facts from the panelists that stuck with you or felt important to share?

I was touched by how all four of us had a different cultural heritage yet we have used the stories, sounds and experiences that bind our family’s past, embedding that into our art and work. Working in music has allowed us to spend so much of our time exploring the stories that have formed us; stories that perhaps we weren’t taught about in school and don’t hear about in the media. I felt an appreciation that I love my job and recognised the importance that I continue to use my voice and platform to share the stories that have got us all to where we are today.

How has migration informed your own life and career in music?

My parents came to the UK from Pakistan and settled down here before my siblings and I were born in London. Migration has and always will be a huge part of my life purely for the reason that London is my home.

It remains my favourite city in the world because of the array of backgrounds, and therefore experiences, opinions, histories, flavours and sounds that inform it. It is a magical metropolis. The many backgrounds that form its fabric mean that it’s a melting pot where culture is able to grow in innovative ways constantly. It will never be boring since one can never know about everything that is happening.

It’s a city that certainly requires a patience and effort in order to reap the rewards it offers but with the correct mindset, I believe it is unparalleled.

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