Scott Kara talks to former Idol Stan Walker about crossing to the other side of the talent quest.

Stan Walker is looking forward to helping talented Kiwis realise their dreams when he takes up his position as judge on X Factor NZ next year.

"I'm excited to discover the next big Kiwi singer - and not just a singer, but a recording artist and performer," says the 22-year-old Australian-based pop singer who was back home in New Zealand this week for the launch of the series.

"And I want to see them go out into the world and be bigger and better than anyone we've seen from down here."

Walker knows what he's talking about because since winning Australian Idol in 2009 he has released three albums and scored high-profile support slots with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida.


X Factor NZ, which will be hosted by Dominic Bowden with a further three judge-mentors yet to be named, follows a similar format to the American version, which is currently screening on TV3.

Following auditions the top 12 contestants will be split into groups and mentored by the judges.

It's a pretty quick turnaround from contestant to judge for you. Why were you keen?

The idea of having X Factor in New Zealand is so awesome. Not that I'm biased or anything because I'm from here, but some of the best talent I've ever seen comes from our own back yard. I just think a show like this will expose people's talents.

What qualities will you bring to the table and as a mentor?

I bring experience of knowing what situation they are in, even though it is a different setting, and an insight into the music industry and insight into what is relevant, because things are constantly changing in terms of music and style. So just readying them for what's about to come, whether they win or lose. I don't think there are any losers in this because it's just a launch pad for their careers. So I've been there, and I'm not saying I've been there, done that, but I've learned from my mistakes so I can pass on a lot of what I've learned. But I'll learn from them, too.

For you, what makes the X Factor distinct from the other TV talent shows?

It's got a great success rate. If you take a look at the other X Factors from around the world you've got One Direction, Cher Lloyd, there are so many artists ... it's a clear launch pad for your career, not just as a singer but as an artist. It's far broader and you do have to have the whole package.

What group would you prefer to mentor?

Whoever I get it will be a blessing either way. I'm a competitive person. I don't like losing and I don't lose often [laughs]. So some friendly competitiveness will be good, and we'll laugh a lot, but there will be an undertone of wanting to win. People want to win and I'm going to put everything I can into whatever group I get.

Have you been watching X Factor USA?

Oh yeah, I love watching new singers perform, so I've been YouTubing it.

So as a judge, I'm picking you as a mix of talented and clever youngster Demi Lovato with the nous and smooth looks of LA Reid. What do you think?

Demi is the bomb. I love Demi. She's beautiful, and, man, she can sing. LA Reid is the man, he's full of knowledge, he's confident, and he knows his stuff. He's also the best in the business and knows what it takes to become the best and biggest. And Britney, I love Britney. As much as I'd love to be like them, I think I'm just going to be Stan.

You've obviously been home this year filming Mt Zion [about a young Maori musician who tries to win the support slot for Bob Marley's 1979 concert in Auckland]. How has it been?

I'm not an actor, I'm a bit of a drama queen sometimes, I suppose, but it was the most amazing experience. Being able to work alongside incredible actors like Temuera Morrison, he's like family to me now. And the story it tells is a story every Kiwi can relate to and the heart of the film is the music and its message.

Tell us a little bit about your character, Turei.

He's very driven and passionate, he's got a good heart and good intentions but he just goes about things the wrong way, I guess. He's a crack-up.

Who: Stan Walker
What: Judge on The X Factor New Zealand, which starts next year on TV3