Last year I interviewed five vibrant, talented and beautiful girls who were living the dream as the newly formed girl group, Wonderland. It was an energetic interview as each of the girls gushed about how amazing it was to be part of the band and how honoured they were to be managed by Westlife’s Kian Egan and music mogul, Louis Walsh.
Sadly, the Wonderland dream came crashing down just a few short months later, as the girls were dropped by their record label and subsequently decided to go their own ways.
On a brighter note, I caught up with Sharon Condon yesterday, one of the girls from the band, and she was looking relaxed, happy and full of enthusiasm for the year ahead. Sharon has decided to make a go of a solo career and whereas I wanted to find out about her plans, I had to ask about the Wonderland split.
“As everyone knows,” said Sharon, “we were dropped by our record label, and that was probably the first thing that alerted people to the fact that all wasn’t well. But to be honest, things had started to fall apart before that. There were a few issues with the band, relationships were beginning to break down and we weren’t as happy as we portrayed ourselves to be to the media.”
“Being in a girl group is fantastic, but it can be very difficult at times too,” she continued. “Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all bad. We really were like one big happy family for a while. We were given an amazing opportunity and we were all grateful for that. We had three wonderful years of doing what we loved and that’s something I’ll always cherish. But living together in the one apartment, working together and spending every moment of every day together can take its toll. We were given a strict style and we had to conform. We were basically stripped of our individuality and, although I know it was all part of the girl-band experience, I found it stifling at times. It wasn’t all glamour either. Sometimes we struggled money-wise and even though we sold 70,000 albums, there were a lot of people to pay before we received our tiny percentage. It’s not all about the money but you do need a certain amount to survive.”
Although Sharon is very ambitious and determined to make a go of her solo career, I could see the sadness when she talked about Wonderland. I asked her if she still stays in contact with the girls. “Leigh and I have remained great friends,” she said, her eyes lighting up. “We get on brilliantly and she’s been so supportive of me and my plans to go solo. She’s currently doing some work with Assets Modelling Agency, so if anyone wants to book a gorgeous, bubbly, wonderful girl, that’s where you’ll find her!”
And what about the others? Did they all remain friends? “Sadly not,” said Sharon. “I’m still in contact with Kasey but I haven’t seen or heard from Corinna or Jodi at all. Unfortunately, it’s the way of the world, isn’t it? When a break-up of any kind happens, there’s often a lot of anger and hurt. I’m hoping that some day we can all meet up again and talk about the good times we had. I think we had a very solid foundation for friendship and maybe one day we can build on that again.”
So onto Sharon’s solo career – how did it feel to be suddenly on her own after three years of being surrounded by the others? “Oh it was such a scary feeling,” she said. “While we were together, we were always told what to do, where to go – our lives were mapped out for us. All of a sudden I had to make my own decisions – even little things like getting flights on my own seemed daunting! But, you know, I’m passionate about music and this is the best I’ve ever felt about anything in my life. Being on my own now is tough but it feels right. I’m very ambitious and even if I have to spend years knocking on doors, I’m determined to succeed.”
Sharon is busy song-writing at the moment and her first single, Love’s Leaving, will be out at the end of the month. “Love’s Leaving is about my journey with Wonderland,” she said. “In a way, it was like being in a relationship. We were all together and then suddenly it fell apart. You have to deal with anger, hurt and all sorts of emotions. It wasn’t only the break-up that was painful, but being in that situation and knowing it wasn’t working was probably the worst part.”
I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Sharon perform the song and I have to say, it’s fantastic. She has a beautiful voice and is clearly a talented song-writer. I asked her about her influences and future songs. “There are a lot of people who influence me but I find most of my inspiration from within. My music has been compared to Coldplay and to Florence and that’s a huge compliment. I have a ballad I’m working on at the moment and I’m really excited about it. I’m really hoping that this is going to be ‘the one’! But I’m writing loads and I’m planning to release an album in the summer. I’d love to some day co-write with some of the big names in the industry but for the moment, I’ll keep writing my own songs and see what happens.”
After her experiences over the last few years, I wondered if Sharon would ever consider auditioning for X Factor. “Absolutely not,” she said. “I think X Factor is great and it offers fantastic opportunities for people but it’s just not for me. Firstly, there’d be no guarantees that I’d even get through – and I’m not sure my confidence could take that sort of knock after Wonderland. But the other thing is, most of those who audition for shows like that are searching for who they want to be. I know who I am. I’m confident in myself and I know what sort of music I want to make.”
So with a single coming out this month and plans for an album later in the year, I asked Sharon what else the future might hold for her. “My head is bursting with so many plans,” she enthused. “I’ve teamed up with beautyteam.ie and I’m working on a documentary with them. It’s about life after Wonderland. I’m also working with New Aims Productions, who’ve just done my music video for the single. The ultimate dream is to be signed to a record label as a solo artist. I’ll do whatever it takes and I intend to work really hard to make my dreams a reality. I’m staying really positive. The sky is the limit and I’ll get there eventually!”
Hours had passed and I could have sat and chatted to Sharon all day. She’s a wonderful young lady and a force to be reckoned with. I predict great things for her and hope 2012 sees her dreams coming true.