GYMPIE'S own Irena Exarhos will soon begin checking her email inbox, hoping to see a message from X-Factor organisers.

The 18-year-old former James Nash student auditioned for the television singing competition in Bundaberg on May 3, but has had to wait a whole month to hear whether she will progress to the first televised auditions.

She said she won't be crushed if that doesn't happen.

"A lot of people go in thinking this is the be all and end all, this is how I'm going to get famous, that this is it," she said.

"It's an awesome thing to do because you get tons of experience out of it, you get tons of stage presence, you get to meet heaps of people and the connections are on point if you get anywhere with it.

"But people think it's their only chance; it's not."

She said she entered the competition for fun and to practice auditioning, but said the whirlwind process meant judges would hear little from most singers.

Gympie musician Irena Exarhos is waiting to hear if she has progressed to the X Factor televised auditions.
Gympie musician Irena Exarhos is waiting to hear if she has progressed to the X Factor televised auditions. Renee Albrecht

"They tell you to pick four songs; you take them there and they'll probably only hear half, and if they want to hear another one they'll ask, but they usually don't because they're really quickly going through them," she said.

Reluctant to confine herself to one genre, she chose four diverse tracks.

Her first song was Battles by Hudson Taylor, which she played with her guitar.

The judges asked to hear more from Irena, so she sang Maddie & Tae's Girl in a Country Song.

"I'm not really a country singer, but it's a fun song," Irena said.

This time, she included audience participation, telling one of the judges to wolf whistle on cue and another to say "yeah baby".

"It was funny because it was a protest song about girls' rights, and they're all male judges," she said.

Even if Irena doesn't make the next stage, she had a taste of small screen stardom when Nine News interviewed her outside the auditioning venue and asked her to play a song for the camera on the street.

"They made me fake walk in and fake walk out happy," she laughed.

While people often compliment her on her "stage presence", Irena is always fighting nerves.

"No-one really knows, because when I perform I get really bad stage fright, but I cover it up with acting," she said.

"If you seem uncomfortable onstage, the audience feels uncomfortable."

In addition to her solo music, Irena also plays in duo act The Balance and in new band Spectrum.

She said The Balance was gaining a name in music circles.

"A few people are noticing us now," she said.

The Balance performed at the Urban Music Festival, placing second in the overall competition and third in the busking competition.

All up, Irena performs between one and four gigs every week.

She's also taking dance classes, studying music theory at the Nambour TAFE, and juggles her casual jobs at Coles and a local nut farm.

Her backup plan into the music industry is to audition for the Queensland Conservatorium in October.

While fame would be wonderful, Irena would be satisfied if she can make a living with music.

"If I can pay my bills with singing, and I can get by, I'll be stoked," she said.

Gympie Times


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