The music industry is considered one of the hardest industries to crack — and nobody knows that better than Gisela Chan.
The 32-year-old singer and hopeful from Birmingham has appeared before the ‘The X Factor’ judges three times – in 2009, 2010 and 2013 – but to no avail.
Despite being told her performance was “pretty shocking,” the housewife-turned-freelance actress and model is determined not to give up – and says her “poor” auditions were entirely down to “jet lag.”
In an exclusive chat with Fabulous, Gisela has now revealed behind-the-scenes secrets of the popular ITV show – and what she really thinks of Simon Cowell’s mean comment.
“It’s a well-directed and executed program,” claims Gisela, who has previously auditioned both as a solo artist and in a group called Jahm.
“People don’t really know until they go to the actual auditions and you feel completely overwhelmed by the process.”
“The judges have a script and already know what they’re going to say, and they’re briefed before any contestant goes to them.”
“And when the contestants are interviewed by the X or Xtra Factor team, the producers tell them exactly what to say to make them look like idiots.”
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Gisela goes on to say that filmed castings are professionally edited – including the audio tracks.
“A little auto-tuning can make the audition sound better or significantly worse,” she claims.
“We were told to perform and say exactly what the producers want or we wouldn’t be performing on the show anymore.”
“They also suggested us the song choices and said it was the best for the group.”
As viewers see a 60-second audition on their screens, the X Factor regular points out that there is actually a lengthy process leading up to it.
Gisela, who doesn’t like to compare herself to anyone vocally but says she admires singers like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston, explains, “There are three producer auditions before the celebrity panel auditions.”
“The first castings are mass castings that usually take place in football stadiums or exhibition halls.
“There’s a producer and a lot of singing booths to sing in after standing in line all day.
“If you get a golden ticket, it means you’ve progressed to the next step.”
Gisela goes on to explain how the second audition takes place in a room with about three producers.
“If you get selected, you get a red ticket to the next level,” she says.
“Then the third audition takes place in a room with two producers and a cameraman recording your audition for later viewing.
“They will not tell you at this point if you have managed to appear before the celebrity panel.
“They’ll get a call with more phone interviews in the near future and then they’ll decide who to pick.”
“Then you’ll get another call to let you know you’re shortlisted and a final call in a week or less to let you know you’ve been selected for the celebrity judges’ talent show.”
Gisela, who is currently on maternity leave with her newborn, said she was told “last minute” that she had been chosen to audition before the celebrity panel.
“At the time I was on vacation in America, so I had to move my audition to the last audition slot, which was in Glasgow,” she says.
“My audition proceeded immediately after I flew direct from America to Glasgow the next day where I was ready to audition.”
After landing off the plane for my audition, I forgot to bring water and ran around in a panic for a while. My throat and vocal cords were really parched and I knew I wasn’t ready to audition in this condition
It came as a surprise to Gisela, who says she didn’t expect to be selected for the jury as she hadn’t been selected for two years in a row – 2007 and 2008.
And according to Gisela, that’s exactly why she failed to impress the judges with her rendition of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
While Dannii Minogue told her the gig was “all over the store,” Simon asked Gisela why she was looking so sad.
“Simon, I’ve been traveling, I’m really tired and jet lagged,” she told him.
The comment made Louis Walsh laugh, while Simon replied: “You can’t use that as an excuse – absolutely categorically, no, honey.”
But Gisela remains true to her word: the culprit is the exhaustion from traveling.
“If the producers had told me earlier that I was auditioning for the celebrity panel, I wouldn’t have gone on vacation to America,” she explains.
“I flew direct from America to Glasgow to attend the audition as it was the last casting slot…
“After landing off the plane for my audition, I forgot to bring water and ran around in a panic for a while.
“My throat and vocal cords were getting really dry and I knew I wasn’t audition ready in that condition.”
In 2010, Gisela went to audition again – but this time she tried her luck in a group called Jahm.
My group members were so nervous, tired, forgot the lyrics and sang over everyone who was out of tune.
I couldn’t even hear myself sing.
I felt like I had once again missed a golden opportunity.
Still, the judges were unimpressed. Cheryl called the performance “quite shocking” and “very bad,” while Louis Walsh likened it to “three cats strangled.”
Simon Cowell added: “Probably the worst group we’ve had on the show… honestly I’ve never heard anything like it. It was absolutely horrible.”
Gisela remembers the negative feedback and says: “The jury was not impressed, but fair enough.”
“We were asked to arrive early in the morning at 9am to start filming our backstage interviews and other scenes like the fake queuing…
“When we finally got to see the judges it was the last casting slot of the day and it was 10pm!
“I missed my last train home and had to book a hotel.
“My group members were so nervous and tired, forgot their lyrics and sang over everyone who was out of tune.
“I couldn’t even hear myself sing.
“I felt like I missed another golden opportunity.”
Gisela also says she wasn’t offended by Cheryl’s remark.
“I feel like it was kind of in the script,” she says.
“I don’t feel anything personal about her saying that.”
But Gisela has a few things to say about Cheryl…
“Cheryl – I’m amazed that with little singing knowledge and a lot of auto-tuning she can build a career as a singer.
“Anyone can become a singer with her formula and this opportunity can be offered to everyone.”
But despite all the setbacks, Gisela’s dream finally came true in 2010 when she received a call from producers asking her to appear with other contestants on the X Factor live finale.
“It was fun getting on the X Factor live stage,” says Gisela, who got to hang out backstage with One Direction and Olly Murs.
“It was great meeting other auditions… but they all had their own quirks!”