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'X-Factor' judges have high expectations

10 July 2014 - 02:00 By Andile Ndlovu
HEY, YOU OUT THERE: The judges for the inaugural season of 'X-Factor SA', will be Arno Carstens, Zonke and DJ Oskido. The winner of the competition gets a Sony Music Entertainment recording contract and R300000 in cash
HEY, YOU OUT THERE: The judges for the inaugural season of 'X-Factor SA', will be Arno Carstens, Zonke and DJ Oskido. The winner of the competition gets a Sony Music Entertainment recording contract and R300000 in cash
Image: THE X FACTOR SA/SABC1

The judges for the inaugural season of X-Factor SA were announced last night and you couldn't have picked a more mixed bag if you'd tried.

Presenter Andile Ncube, DJ Oskido, songstress Zonke and rocker Arno Carstens will take the X-Factor judges' seats at 6pm on September 6 when the show starts on SABC1.

Between them the trio have over 50 years of experience in the business.

The Times sat down for a chat with the trio this week.

Why did you sign up for X-Factor?

Arno: "It's something I've never done before. I've seen the programme and it looks like fun. It feels quite real to mentor other artists to where they can eventually take on the industry. I think it's a great challenge."

Zonke: "I've been asked to do a lot of things and I've turned them all down, because I've never felt ready. But I feel like this is right up my alley. It's music. I love what I do."

Oskido: "I'm not a TV person so I was unsure about this until I did my research. I'm passionate about developing talent."

What sets the real stars apart?

Zonke: "I've always identified with performers who are sincere. I can sense the sincerity in the lyrics and performance. So, it's a lot of different things."

Arno: "Originality. A lot of people nowadays sound the same. I'll be looking for a guy or girl who has personality, and whose artistry really stands out and spits fire."

Oskido: "It's a lot of stuff: having the ability to deliver and adapt to any situation, which can help you bring out your craft, is most important."

Why did you sign up for X-Factor?

Arno: It's something I've never done before. I've seen the TV programme, and it looks like a fun thing - it feels quite real to mentor other artists to a place where they can [eventually] take on the industry. I think it's a great challenge.

Zonke: I've been asked to do a lot of things throughout my career and I've turned them all down, because I've never felt ready. But I feel like this is right up my alley - it's music. I love what I do so much, it's really all I think about and care for. I'm willing to share my story and journey and in this process groom someone and help them realise their dreams.

Oskido: Even though a lot of my friends are presenting, I'm not a TV person. So I was unsure about this, until I did my research. I'm passionate about developing talent, and so when I was told I would be doing any presenting, I thought 'let me try and maybe I will like it'.

How do you achieve longevity once the initial adulation of winning has waned?

Zonke: It's important to go back to the drawing board, review what you've done, and think 'what's the next step?". As much as I hate the word 'relevant', it's important when you're in this industry to keep up with the times and think how you can reinvent yourself. Sometimes you think 'I've been doing this for so long, I can't change now', but you must always go back after a certain amount of time, and think 'what next?'.

Arno: You've really got to think on your toes. Also, you must surround yourself with people that you look up to creatively. I always like working with producers, because it's nice to get objective viewpoints, because if you just listen to yourself all the time, you might not see the big picture.

Oskido: It's the ability to change and adapt that is very important. We have to stay on our toes. You're only as good as your last hit.

How does X-Factor carve out its own following with such competition on TV?  

Zonke: What I've always loved about X-Factor is that the judges mentor the contestants. It doesn't end where you judge a contestant -making or breaking them-, but you walk the walk with them. You're there every step of the way, and in the process you're teaching them and preparing them for the big ocean where they will eventually end up. You don't see it with the other shows.  

Arno: It brings out the strong points of an artist and helps them blossom.

Oskido: To be honest, I've never watched X-Factor, but we should not be a [duplication] of international versions. I think it's also going to be our job as judges to identify our own South African brand.

What do you think sets the good singers and performers from the real stars?

Zonke: It's not one thing. [But] I've always been able to identfiy with a performer that is sincere. I can sense and feel the sincerity in the lyrics and performance and your ability to connect with a crowd. So it's a lot of different things.  

Arno: Originality.  A lot of people nowadays sound the same. I'll be looking for a guy or girl that has personality and for their artistry to really stand out and spit fire. A singer of love in a really beautiful way.

Oskido: It's a lot of stuff. The ability to deliver, and adapt to any situation which can help you bring out your craft, is most important.  

  • The winner of X-Factor SA will be revealed during the grand live finale in Durban on December 13. The winner receives a Sony Music Entertainment recording contract and a cash prize of R300 000.
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