I went to NME’s #Lifehacks event, and here’s what I learned

Anusmita Ray, a budding music journalist from Nottingham, attended NME’s #Lifehacks event last Thursday. Here’s her review of the afternoon and evening’s activities.

What happens when you throw in a series of panels by successful creatives, a horde of young hopefuls, and NME in one gem of a semi-hidden club? This in a nutshell was NME’s #LifeHacks event, held in partnership with University of Salford and Create Jobs, last Thursday (23 November) at London’s Islington Metal Works.

The headline panel saw England footballer Eni Aluko and Mercury Prize-nominated hip-hop artist Coyle Carner share their stories of starting out in their respective fields, and discuss how they achieved their success. Interestingly, both mentioned how their careers started off as mere hobbies and passions, with Carner writing songs as a method of catharsis and Aluko playing football to fit in among her peers and prove a point regarding gender stereotypes. Aluko’s statements on female empowerment and equal opportunities were matched by the noble ideals in Carner’s zeal for helping young people with different abilities – Carner himself suffers from ADHD, something he says has a noticeable impact on his work ethic and career in music. But the panel had light-hearted moments, too: Aluko declared her undying love for Beyoncé, and Carner discussed his passion for food. The pair also chatted about their aims for the future and advised the audience to try to carve out a niche out for themselves.


Eni Aluko and Loyle Carner starred at NME #Lifehacks in London’s Islington Metal Works (November 23 2017)

Next came a panel on effecting positive change led by an admirable and inspiring group of people – Alex Manzi (Dreamer’s Disease / Radio 1Xtra), Paula Akpan (The “I’m Tired” Project / Black Girl Festival), Paris Lees (writer, broadcaster and campaigner) and Josie Naughton (Help Refugees). Discussing a range of issues plaguing the modern world, they spoke about the different forms of action young people can take to help ensure it becomes a progressively better place for everyone to live in. Running at the same time was a workshop organised by advertising gurus D&AD. It explored what makes an advertisement effective and entertaining in the modern digital world.

The panel that followed discussed, in depth, the extremely relevant topic of “skills to succeed in a digital age”. It featured Niran Vinod (Instagram), Lauren Thomas (tech specialists General Assembly), Ibrahim Kamara (video magazine GUAP) and Lyndon Saunders (University of Salford). With more and more connections being developed online, the importance of having a positive and noticeable social media presence was heavily emphasised. At the same time, guests could enter the Game Lab, a fascinating workshop delving into the world of gaming organised by University of Salford.

With three kinds of sandwiches provided by Sub Cult satisfying the hunger pangs that had kicked in for everyone, it was time for the final panel of the night, titled “What I wish I knew at 18”. It was a star-studded affair with Jonathan Badyal (Universal Music UK), Dr Kirsty Fairclough (University of Salford), Kanya King (MOBO Awards) and Liv Little (gal-dem) all giving valuable and interesting takes on how they feel when they look back at their teenage selves.

In addition to all this, guests could hang out at the dedicated Hack Space, where the Create Jobs team provided information about future work opportunities. There was also a wellbeing corner hosted by Mission Starts Here, a predictably popular photo booth, and a T-shirt screen-printing activity set up by TRAID. Meanwhile, a graffiti will allowed everyone who attended to contribute their personal “Lifehack” for achieving success and happiness.

Rising star Tom Grennan takes to the stage for a secret set.


Following a casual networking session, the event concluded with a secret gig by singer-songwriter Tom Grennan. Performing with all the swagger and pomp of a future pop star, Grennan closed the event to boisterous approval from the crowd.

Last Thursday’s event at The Islington Metal Works in London was all about opportunity and exposure for young creatives. Some of the stars of the future were probably in attendance, and they definitely left feeling inspired.

Follow Anusmita on Twitter @AnusmitaR