Singing sensation Stan Walker has been announced as The X Factor New Zealand’s first judge.
The former Australian Idol winner, who is based in Australia but grew up in the Bay of Plenty, says he’s stoked to be home to find some “raw” Kiwi talent – though it might mean buying a few bigger shirts.
“Last time I was here I put on 18 kilos!” he jokes. “But I’m so happy to be back in New Zealand and find these amazing people,” he told the Weekly.
Stan, who won the 2009 Australian Idol competition, says his experience in the show will be hugely advantageous for whatever group of contestants he receives – and he’s adamant that he never loses.
“I don’t lose anything. I will do anything to win! We’ll learn off each other, I want to create a relationship with the contestants. They’ll probably teach me more than I’ll learn from them.”
The X Factor sees four groups of finalists (usually teens, young adults, over 25s and groups) mentored by one of the judges, and Stan’s got his eyes on the young adults. “They’d be choice, but it doesn’t matter who I get. We’ll win!” he laughs.
Growing up on a marae in Mount Maunganui Stan was exposed to drugs, sexual abuse and alcholohism, with both his parents spending time in jail. But the Black Box singer managed to turn his life around with a combination of music and God. Now with hits such as Choose You under his belt, Stan’s in a great position to be dishing out advice to contestants – and he’s always got a talented family to fall back on.
“I was brought up around the most talented people ever,” he says with his trademark grin. “Talent is everywhere here. My cousin, Ria Hall, just won a Tui, and Te Awanui from Nesian Mystik is my cousin too. It’s all in the whanau. My grandfather and grandmother were singers. We’re just one family, and there’s so many more. There are way better singers than me around, we just need to find them. We will find them!”
While he’s staying mum on who will be joining him on the judging panel – although he admits to a soft spot for Beyonce – Stan does know who he’d pick to be his mentor if the roles were reversed.
“I’d actually love Brooke Fraser. She’s a good friend of mine. She knows her stuff, so graceful. She can walk the walk. I’d love to be mentored by her. She can still mentor me now, if she wants!”