Is remixing the new X-Factor?

toy piano

Or Is remixing becoming the new X-Factor? Whatever you want to say about them, tv shows like the X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, etc., are becoming the major way for kids to become pop stars. The temptation to audition for one of those shows is often too much for the budding singer, girl band, boy band, or guitarist, and when they finally reach the live shows, there’s the chance to get free publicitiy, exposure, critique of their style and ability. Even if they don’t make it all the way to the final, there’s always the chance of being signed by a record company, however well they can sing.

So, why do I think that remixing is becoming the new X-Factor? Well, compare the two: someone advertises a talent contest where you don’t need any industry form or prior performance experience. You just need your instrument (voice or digital audio workstation – Ableton Live, anyone?); the material to perform with, either a song or some audio stems; and you need some time to get your performance right, but not necessarily to a high level. There are so many talent shows out there – X-Factor contests run by pubs and bars, holiday hotels, local tv and radio stations, probably a new one every day somewhere in the world. There are so many remix contests out there too. There are even websites dedicated to advertising the latest contests. Somewhere in the world, someone will enter all of these contests, but usually budding remixers, who see it as a quick way to get signed by a record label, will enter one or two a month, hoping that this will be their big chance.

But, like the X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, the really talented, dedicated, hardworking remixers will miss out, only to be beaten by the “popular vote”, in terms of the ones with the highest number of plays or likes will be shortlisted. Talent probably does come into it if they’re in a contest that is looking for particular techniques and it’s about ability rather than what sounds good to some people. However, like in the real world of becoming a popstar, it’s the approaching people in the industry and showing them what you can do, that gets you the opportunities. Ok, so some people who win remix contests may be famous and find a way in to the music business, but more often than not it’s the talent that is wanted and that’s what gets you the gig.

So, two things from all that. First of all, anyone can make a remix. It may not be good, but it may be what someone is looking for. Even my 8 year old can make a remix in Ableton Live. Secondly, I still enter remix contests, despite having done “official” remixes for some bands I know, and appearing on compilations etc. Why, because there’s a very tiny part of me that still sees them as a way to get famous, despite that fact that I always ridicule shows like the X-Factor! My latest remix below, is one I did in about 6 hours for the Ableton 24 hour remix contest “Beat the Clock”. I downloaded the parts for the track, most of which you could only open in Ableton Live and you had to make the remix with the same program. Having only used Live for a few days before, I probably proved my theory that anyone can make a remix, so here’s the result:

Contest Page:

Beat the Clock – Ableton Remix by Tim Blackburn/mistrust

Listen in Soundcloud:

By the way, if you’re a Soundcloud user, and like the track, please favourite it,and share it, thereby making me win the popular vote! If Pudsey the dog can do it, so can I!

Daybreak on ITV talks about kids using mobiles in the classroom

“Don’t get me started…..”, I ranted this morning. ITV’s breakfast show, Daybreak, was showing an item about school children using mobile phones in the classroom. There was an interview with some children studying a class (at 7.15 am?) who thought it was ok to have their mobile phones on in class, and they also spoke to their headteacher, who’d set up a policy of “we won’t ban mobiles, because we trust you to be sensible with your mobiles”. Even their parents thought their children needed their mobiles to text about after-school activities. Which is a little bit different from the stance taken by others to ban mobiles from the classroom completely. I understand that schools are concerned about the disruption caused by students texting, phoning, and silencing their phones during lessons. However, no-one mentioned the alternative. No-one ever seems to mention the alternative. If the children want to use their mobiles in class, why not let teachers take control and include mobile phones in their lessons and their students’ learning?

There are lots of things you can do with mobile phones in the classroom. I’m not going to go into loads of details, but here are a few examples and real-life examples.

1 . Permanent record of key diagrams/charts: One tutor, a colleague of mine, asked his students to copy some technical drawings and charts he was putting on the whiteboard. However, he couldn’t work out why some students hadn’t started to draw the diagrams themselves. When he’d finished his drawings, some of the students go out their phones, and started taking photographs of the diagrams!

2. Who wants to be a Millionaire-style live voting/testing knowledge: I recently did a live demonstration of using a survey in Google Docs to show how to get students to answer questions/vote from their phones in class, and display instant results in the classroom. It’s a live, interactive, fun way, of assessmentand getting learners to work together.

3. Apps: There are loads of mobile phone apps out there that can be using for learning and revision. Why not get students to search for some maths and science tools and share some knowledge, or write a critical review of some?

4. Audio and Video: Teachers can get students to record role play, drama sessions, even whole lessons and keep a permanent record of them. This is perfect for reinforcing learning and revision.

There, just a few reasons why we shouldn’t ban mobiles from the classroom. I even tweeted some of them to Daybreak, but to no avail. The Daybreak Facebook page has lots of comments for and against using mobiles in the classroom, but no-one mentions using them for learning!

Wake up to mobile learning!

Rant over.

Young kids and Facebook #2 – Parents strike back

More on from my recent post about Young kids and Facebook, where I read on my local school’s newsletter that some of the 7-11 year olds were going on Facebook. I decided to take matters into my own hands and send an email to the headteacher, asking if they knew there was information readily available on the internet about the pros and cons of children using Facebooks and other social networking sites. I also suggested that they look at sites like Thinkyouknow and maybe list them in one of the newsletters. To my surprise, I got an email back the next day, thanking me for pointing out what I did, and then got a mention in the next newsletter, in a paragraph telling parents about the Thinkyouknow website. So, a big tick for Parent Power! It’s probably the first time I’ve written to the school about anything – probably because it bothers me so much. We’ll probably never know if any of the parents take notice of it, but it’s a start. However, I’m now waiting for the backlash from parents saying “how dare you tell me how to bring up my child!” It actually makes you wonder why the Local Education Authority haven’t issued guidelines to school about things like using Facebook etc. Surely they’re the people who have more influence. I think I’m going to have to suggest going in and talking to the staff and kids about all this….

As you may know if you’re following my ramblings regularly, I am a Twitterer as well as a WordPress blogger. As such, I’m interested to read that WordPress have finally got round to adding a Twitter widget to the list available to those of us with accounts. I won’t go into details about what the widget will do as there’s more information about in’s blog post here – “Bring Twitter to Your Blog“. However, I’m still not convinced about having all my eggs in one basket – in other words, will people prefer to follow my tweets in Twitter, and my blogs in WordPress?

And finally – for those people who don’t know me, or are just interested in the ramblings about Facebook etc., you might like to know that I also make music in my spare time. In fact, I’ve been quite busy recently with the music-making. I”ve been making my own tunes for a few years, but a chance meeting with a DJ from the Big Chill organisation put me in touch with New Zealand band Pitch Black. I asked if I could do a remix for them, just because 1. I like their music, and 2. for a bit of experience of doing a remix. I sent it in, and they liked it so much they released it on their EP of the title track of their last album, and it’s on their new remix CD out in May. Because of that, I was asked to do a remix for Big Chill band Animat for their next single – that’s out early May too. Not bad eh? I’m on the lookout for some more remixes to do, but so far, so good! If you’d like to hear the remixes, please go to

The tracks on Myspace are:

Pitch Black – Rude Mechanicals (mistrust – ambiotik remix)

Animat – Deep Space Lament (mistrust remix)

Young kids and Facebook

It really comes to something when your child’s Head Teacher has to put a notice in the weekly school newsletter telling parents about the dangers of letting their little ones go on the internet unsupervised. Apparently some of the 7 – 11 year olds at this particular primary school are regulars on Facebook, and are even posting information about which school they go to! Seven years old! I won’t go into why these young kids would want to even go on Facebook, but maybe someone could explain in more detail than me. What I want ask is why their parents are even letting them go on. Apologies to some of the parents of this school who may read this message  (if you even know that I blog!), but how on earth can you let your child say that they were born in 1987? Did you know that Facebook only allow over-13s on? I know that younger kids go on there (my 11 y.o. daughter is on it – completely supervised and not allowed to post any messages/comments without me or mrs mistrust approving it first). It makes me wonder if these parents who let their kids go on the internet unsupervised actually about parental controls, or even that they should really be supervising their kids when they’re on the web.

I’m not saying what me and mrs m are doing with our own kids by supervising them when they’re on the web, but as I’ve said before now in my post “A is for Amazon”, I really think it’s necessary to let you kids learn the language of the web, and get a grip on new technology, new ways of communicating. However, apart from needing a balance between going on the web and doing real-life things, kids really need to know the pros and cons of going on the internet as soon as possible. My kids are hopefully fairly sensible when they go on the internet, because we haven’t stifled them and stopped them going on every site they come across. To me it’s like teaching kids to learn to ride a bike. You don’t just put a 7 year old on a new bike on a main road, and say “off you go”, and let them get on with it. You teach them how to ride the bike, put stabilisers on so they don’t fall off, and you teach them what dangers to look out for – “don’t go on that busy road until you’re old enough”, “don’t go too fast or you’ll fall off”.

So. back to these kids at the local primary school… it must be a complete lack of ignorance about what’s out there on the web, or a couldn’t care less attitude, that lets a 7 year old child go on Facebook and post details of which school they attend. Which is worrying. The school is holding a session in a few weeks showing parents how to help their kids improve maths and literacy skills. They should also be holding a session about how to improve parents’ and children’s awareness of using the internet safely and securely.

Finally, if you have a child or want to know more about child safety on the web, please visit Thinkyouknow, which I came across a while ago, and which should help you enormously!

Moving my blog…

No more posts on here… I’ve moved my blog and website to