Q) I’m curious whether there were any determinations as to when the audition shows from each city would be aired?
Simon: I think for the first show it’s pretty much decided that it’s going to be three cities in the first show because it’s a two-hour show. It’s going to be Austin, San Francisco, and Providence. Then the following day, I think you’re going to see a bit more Providence as well. Providence was a really successful city for us. We love it there.
Q) Was it particularly enjoyable and a particularly strong stream of talent?
Simon: I loved it there. I absolutely loved the city, loved the people. It felt like the whole city had turned up to watch the auditions and it was a buzz.
Demi: Providence was amazing. I really enjoyed seeing how many people showed up to support their neighbors. It was really awesome.
Q) Did you have some surprises, this first go round of hosting? What were some of the bigger surprises coming through this?
Demi: There are surprises getting to see some people, that they step out on stage and you may not expect the voice that comes out of them. That was always really awesome. People just really surprising you with their performance, too. You never know what you can expect when you step out in front of that audience and you sit in the judges’ panel. You have no idea what’s going to happen that day. You have no idea how people are going to react. It’s full of surprises. It’s very unpredictable.
Q) You’ve talked about the first show in particular being different from anything you’ve made before. Can you talk a little more specifically about what kind of changes you’ve made in terms of the show this year? Obviously the judges are a huge part of that, but in terms of the show and how it’s put together and what kind of things we might see.
Simon: Yes. It’s difficult to describe on the telephone until you’ve actually seen it. Even when I watch the show myself, even though I’ve filmed it, there was a ton of stuff which I wasn’t aware of happening backstage. But I suppose the headlines are that we’ve allowed the audience to see even more of the audition process than what they’ve seen before. There is a lot of stuff backstage. You’re definitely seeing way more of how the contestants interact with each other, how they prepare for the auditions, and in the case of the first audition, there is a lot of … that happens behind the scenes which you don’t normally see. I found it fascinating to watch because this is the first time, even though I’ve done this a long time, I genuinely believe I know what it’s like to be a contestant on this show. I found it fascinating. There is a lot more reality than we’ve ever shown before. Maybe before, we showed people 60% of the process, now it feels like it’s 100%. It definitely feels different from many of the shows we’ve seen this year.
Q) Just as a follow-up as well on that, obviously we’re moving forward a bit, but are we going to perhaps see—this show is about mentoring artists as well. Are we going to see more of that mentoring process, because there didn’t really seem to be a lot of that that we saw on screen anyway last year?
Simon: Definitely. A lot of what we did was off-camera. But I think you’re right. I think the mentoring process, how we actually work with the artists, how they interact with each other, where they’re staying, is an important part of this show. Like I said, it’s easier to watch it than it is for me to explain it, but you will see a marked difference to anything we’ve never done before. I think all that process has to be shown.
Q) I was wondering, with all of these reality singing competitions out there now, how do you think X Factor stays above the rest of the pack and what makes it different from the other shows?
Simon: I think partly, how I just answered the last question, is that you’ve got to make a different show to everybody out there, otherwise they all blur into one at the moment. For me, like I said, I’ve done this for so many years, I wanted to watch something different … I’ve ever seen before. We brought in a different skillset in terms of the reality, a different team. We joined that with the existing team we’ve got. At times—and there is no voice over on this show. There are no hosts. The contestants tell the story themselves. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be on one of these shows, this show is a real glimpse of how stressful it is for the contestants, like I said before, how they interact. But I do feel very proud of the first show that we’ve made. I think it’s a big leap compared to what I’ve seen before and it has to be different from all these other shows, because otherwise, they’re all going to blur into one and it’s boring.