DJ X Factor

Found myself unwittingly drawn into the debate about Simon Cowell’s proposed ‘DJ X-Factor’ programme via an interview I did with Digital Spy, the media news website, last month, which had been arranged as part of the promotional push for the sadly cancelled Vintage Festival in Northamptonshire, which was supposed to have taken place this weekend.

Back in January it was announced that Cowell was planning to launch a new talent competition to ‘find the world’s best DJs’. The entertainment mogul issued a statement saying “DJs are the new rock stars, it feels like the right time to make this show” – the DJ / Rock Star analogy actually goes back to the ’90s, causing many to accuse Cowell of being seriously out of touch.

Following my interview, the resulting piece, drawn from a phone conversation with reporter Mayer Nissim, centred on what I’d mentioned about building bridges between past and present, and went online last Monday. There was no mention of Simon Cowell, whose proposed programme had come up in passing, and was but a small part of the overall interview:

However, the following day a further stand-alone article, titled ‘Simon Cowell Can Have ‘DJ X Factor’, by Greg Wilson’, in which my thoughts on the subject were outlined, appeared on Digital Spy, and within hours it had been re-published on a whole host of other websites and blogs. Now it’s out there on the interweb thought I’d share here too:

Greg Wilson has said that he does not mind if Simon Cowell makes a reality TV show about DJing. The spinner, who made his name in the early 1980s at Wigan Pier and Manchester’s Legend, told Digital Spy that he was not concerned about Cowell’s plans for a DJ programme.

“I can’t see the excitement of watching a DJ,” Wilson said. “What do they want? Somebody to put their hands in the air and dance about? It doesn’t sound to me like it would make good TV. DJ culture in the past 25 years has just gone through the roof. In a sense my attitude to it is let ’em have it, let ’em take it, let’s build again from the basics. It’s gone so big, it’s gone so overground.”

“Going back in time, for me it was always about the music, it was a real passion for music, a love of music… entertaining an audience – you have the music and it’s up to you”. He added: “As a good DJ you’re learning to see how an audience works, how to work with that audience – it’s a reciprocal situation. One of the things that got lost along the way for some people is that DJs began to see themselves as above the audiences. That they were the arbiters of what music was, when really it’s all an individual thing. You can’t turn round and say, ‘He is the best DJ’, because he might be to a wider amount of people – you can judge off those angles – but it’s a very individual thing”. Wilson continued: “If the ones who want all the acclaim and the stardom and this whole thing that came later down the line – let them have that, it was never about that for my generation of DJs.”

DJ Rich List Top 30 Countdown:

“We didn’t get rich from being DJs, it wasn’t a major career move, it wasn’t something that took you round the world. If you got good at it you could make a living out of it, but you weren’t going to get rich out of it like you are now.” He added: “Different people are in it now for different reasons and that is the only reason that Simon Cowell or an X Factor would be interested in it in the first place. That was never the side I was interested in. It was always about the music and the rewards that came with it were completely secondary.”

I’ve previously made my feelings known with regards to TV talent / reality shows in the blog post ‘Celebration Of The Mediocre’:

An earlier post, ‘Bumblebee Land’ highlights John Niven’s insightful comparison between Simon Cowell and the late Punk impresario Malcolm McLaren:

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7 Responses to DJ X Factor

  1. Same July 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm #


    Thing is, I thought the whole DJ X Factor thing was just a wind up by the Faith Fanzine fellas.

  2. Tristan Kelly July 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Couldn’t agree with you more Gregg. For me it’s always been about the music and nothing else. I reluctantly fell into Dj’ing 22 years ago as I always had the best record collection (I still consider myself a collector more than a DJ) and whilst I love doing it, fame and fortune is the last thing I want from it (just as well really as I have gained neither!). What I have gained is stronger passion for music and a lot of enjoyment.

    I really can’t see what Cowell is trying to achieve with this? Is it being judged on music selection? Technical ability or showmanship? If it’s the latter surely the DMC championships cornered that niche years ago?

  3. Nick Gray July 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I’m with your Greg and Tristan. It is all about the music. The best feeling for me is taking a crowd with you into ‘unsafe territory’ then dropping that bomb- if you’re the kind that’s willing to take a risk.(Though it doesn’t happen to often for me these days).
    Anyone can bung on top 40 records these days and say they ‘DJ’.

    More nonsense from the musically soulless Cowell except it might bring some renewed exposure and focus on the dj- especially those on the periphery – after 10 years since Fatboy messed it up for the rest and everyone went back to just live music!

    As you’ve said, there needs to be some focus on a particular dj skill otherwise; how’s it going to work?

  4. Jay Negron July 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Exactly, It’s all about THE MUSIC!!!
    I do it for the love of JAMS, that’s it….I have a faithful following and I am not getting rich either.

    But I love being IN the scene…Love the music….since 1974!!


  5. Chris Hayes July 14, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Nothing new in this: since DJing was first invented there have been the crowd pleasing money makers (from Jimmy Saville in the 1950s, through Noel Edmonds, up to David Guetta nowadays) alongside the club DJs who work on a smaller scale(from Francis Grasso in the 70s through Larry Levan, Mr Wilson et al). You pays your money you takes your choice.

  6. Flipsta July 16, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    Hey Greg, it’s been a while mate.
    You know it’s got to the stage where I find it disappointing that DJ’s that have been around for 4 or 5 years and like to dictate about music past present and future have conversations with me about songs that have certain content from a track that was remixed 10 years ago and when I try to explain I used to play the original track on vinyl from the 70’s where the content was originally sampled from, a debate usually breaks out. So fr me I feel that if I had the privelidge of being there back then, I can rest assured that the memories of what was achieved in the pioneering years remains in those that experienced it and as for what happens now in the arena of “DJing”? Let the good times roll. I love to make and DJ music Past Present and Future and always will. Im 45 this November Greg and am probably more excited about my music…..or are the possibilities just getting bigger to stretch the limits of our sound?

  7. DogChic July 20, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    PS Music is the vocals, the instruments, the electronics, the beat, the soul, the lyric, the bass, the drums, the skit, the hop, the groove, the decks, the spirit, the vibe, the acoustics, the sound, the art, the dance-floor, the godfather of funk (JB) and the people! All intertwined as one!!! Hallelujah, Amen.

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