The first South African The X Factor is ready to debut on Saturday. Three judges, who are each top musicians, travelled the country to find which contestants made the cut. Judges Arno Carstens, Zonke Dikana and Oskido let us in on what to expect from the show.


Arno Carstens

“I have seen the show a couple of times on TV, but what I have experienced so far is not what I expected at all,” said the rocker.

“We get a group and have to mentor them. I was surprised by the emotional side of the process which I hadn’t anticipated.

“There are also some humourous moments throughout the competition that make the show really memorable and very South African.”

Although he might try to deny it, in certain instances Carstens became emotionally attached to the contestants.

“There are some people whom I think are amazing and Zonke will then come out and say otherwise and we argue about that because I feel strongly about my point of view,” he explained.

Speaking about his relationships with the other two judges, Carstens revealed that they may each have personal musical tastes, but they use their own professional discretion as and when needed.

“Music is music, when it’s good, but then, of course, there are our personal tastes.

“I am not a big R&B guy; they cry to much to me, and yet Zonke loves that sh*t.

“But when it comes to a super-amazing talent, we can’t falter that; we usually agree regardless of genre.”


Zonke Dikana

It’s amazing that this is Dikana’s first time on TV as a talent show judge considering she is unmatched among her peers when it comes to singing and songwriting.

“I liked some talent shows that came to the country before The X Factor, but I didn’t think I was ready to take part. Now I think I’ve proved that I know a thing or two so I am happy that someone thinks so too – enough to put me on the show.”

Unlike other talent shows, Dikana believes The X Factor platform gives her more time to hone the skills of the contestants she is in charge of and teach them what she has learnt in the industry.

“That’s what I love about this show – it does what I would have wanted for myself when I first started out: someone takes you under their wing and shows you the ropes of the industry,” said the singer.

Working on the show has been an experience beyond Dikana’s expectations, so much so that she is not sure what to do with all the talent that is available to her.

“I never thought I would cry as much as I did on this show. People always think I am tough, but then I get really emotional on the show.

“The first few days we as judges worried that we wouldn’t get the right talent, but it came as we went on. The greatest thing was that the group I really wanted is the one I am with, so I don’t have any excuses. I truly think the winner is in this group,” she said.



Oskido is responsible for many South African musicians’ very existence in the industry and he has been at it for more than 25 years.

The X Factor mirrors his daily occupation as a talent scout and developer so he is enjoying himself on the show.

“It’s been a cool show. The auditions went well and we are now anxiously waiting for the show to start,” said the producer.

Working on this show comes as second nature to him, although he admitted that there were slight differences in how he would ordinarily do things at the Kalawa Jazmee record label he is part of.

“It’s a TV show and it has it’s own rules with a different environment from what I am used to. In terms of scouting talent, as we develop you will see that we do find talent just the way I would out there. The process is just different.”

With the pool of contestants that Oskido has had to sift through so far, he is confident that The X Factor will produce a musician who will become a big name in the industry.

“There are lots of people who have potential to be megastars and as we progress in the show we will see how that goes,” he said.

He, Dikana and Carstens all make different music, but Oskido was quick to say that did not mean much to him.

“I have worked with Zonke and know her very well. I know Arno and he is a cool guy so we are finding each other and having fun exploring our different worlds,” he said.


• The X Factor premieres on Saturday at 6pm on SABC 1.