Self confessed hippy Reigan Derry was a one-time contestant on Australian Idol. Tamara Jaber cut her pop teeth as part of 2001 Popstars product Scandal’us. Together as Scarlett Belle, they’ve impressed many in the music industry with their great harmonies, hot look and down to earth demeanour. Signed to Def Jam (and Sony Music locally), the duo has achieved top 40 success with their debut single ‘Closure’. Another single and a debut album are on the way, so we sat down for a gossipy chinwag to find out how it all began. Turns out, Tamara fell in love. Sort of.
“Yeah, I did – I thought to myself, ‘Wow’ – firstly her voice was just captivating. I loved the way she looked because she was just so natural,” says Tamara.
“Oh my god, it was a mini crush!?” gasps Reigan. Both laugh.
“It was a bit,” Tamara says, “I do that all the time. I just admire girls. I hooked up Reigan to come down to Sydney and spend some time and record with me.”
“So I rocked down and stayed at a backpackers,” quips Reigan.
We reel in shock that Reigan would consider staying at a backpackers during a time when she was about to begin her Scarlett Belle recording career journey.
“I know! I thought ‘we can’t have that!’,” says Tamara.
“So she calls up and asks ‘Where are you staying?’ and I say ‘Oh just at a backpackers in George Street’ and she said ‘What!?’ She said, ‘Let me get you out of there’ and she sent me this big black limo,” responds Reigan.
Three years later, and despite Reigan sometimes leaving the house for days on end without word (worrying Tamara sick), the pair has become inseparable, with Reigan still housed at Tamara’s Sydney digs.
“When she greeted me at the door, I just saw this beautiful face and she was holding a towel and she said, ‘this is going to be yours’ and I saw this big mansion and I thought ‘this is awesome, I’m going to find myself really comfortable here’ and I did and I never moved out,” Reigan enthuses.
The two were readying for the launch of their impending pop career when a surprise phone call from one Snoop Dogg would change the Scarlett Belle trajectory. They were subsequently signed to Def Jam.
“God, it was freaky,” says Tamara. “We were in Sydney when we first started recording and we’d come back from the studio and and were sitting up at Cucinetta in Woolwich having wine and I got a phone call saying ‘Snoop wants to hear you girls sing. You have to be here in half an hour.’ And I was thinking, ‘well here I am halfway to drunk’ We were just having a little Friday night drink and dinner.”
“We ended up getting finally there at midnight, meeting this guy,” says Reigan. “We sang in harmonies and he said, ‘You’re like the Supremes! I ain’t heard girls sing like that since the ‘60s’.”
“And then he got on his keyboard making sample sounds and we just started jamming to it,” says Tamara. “He had to leave a couple of hours later. It was six o’clock in the morning by the time we left.”
Last month, Scarlett Belle released their debut single ‘Closure’ – a track that’s found favour across the 2DayFM Network nationwide. It’s also one of many tracks Tamara and Reigan have written themselves.
Reigan begins, “We’ve written all our music. So the story is..,” before being corrected by Tamara.
“Well not everything. There’s this one song called ‘Running Shoes’ and it was written by this amazing…” (she drifts)… “And Diane Warren, we’ve done…” (she drifts again), “So not everything.”
“Back to our debut single,” Reigan interjects, “I was in this town where my ex boyfriend was and I hadn’t seen him for three years. Basically I felt really weird seeing him and I’d changed and he’d changed and we were different people and it was really awkward. It felt really weird. Then I saw Tamara in the studio the next day and I was telling her about the experience, saying it felt strange. And she turned to me and said, ‘It’s closure, what you’re feeling’. We had this massive discussion about it and then we decided to write about it.”
“It doesn’t just have to be about the end of a relationship,” Tamara continues, “It’s not a sad song. It’s about empowering yourself and it’s about being done with something – not just a relationship, but anything in life. And a new door’s opening. She’s accepted the fact that she doesn’t need to be upset by this anymore and it’s cool.”
The video looks a million dollars, filmed at one of Brisbane’s most stylish new establishments in the heart of ‘The Valley’.
“Cloudland Brisbane,” enthuses Tamara. “It’s an amazing club. And that was just a little bit of the club. This club is the most beautifully designed club in Australia.”
“It was fun. I was a day of havoc,” says Reigan. “We ended up sending someone off in the middle of the day saying, ‘we don’t have an outfit for the last scene’, so they ended up going to Lincraft and finding these pieces of material and we got wrapped in it.”
Post ‘Closure’, Reigan and Tamara will soon launch their debut album, at this stage self-titled and possibly slated for August, though things are constantly changing. There are some pretty big names on board for the release, as the girls reveal.
“Yeah, well the record is done. The record’s been done for ages,” Tamara says, “Phil Tan, who’s the best mixer in the world for this style of music, he’s mixed it all in America, so it’s done, it’s ready. We’ll be sneak peeking the second single soon; clip for that in a few weeks.”
And as far as the name of the album is concerned…?
“For the album, ‘Scarlett Belle’ by Scarlett Belle,” says Tamara.
“I’m the Scarlett,” says Reigan.
“And you’re the Belle!” pipes in Tamara, in what seems like a strange twisted updating of the Two Ronnies sign-off of yesteryear.
“We’ve done a lot of things that are all over America… Atlanta, New York,” says Reigan. “There’s Ne-Yo, there’s Stargate. As far as the songwriting is concerned, all of the songs are very story based. They all go on adventures and it’s not all based on one emotion. It’s not all like ‘Closure’. There are full on party tracks as well.”
“Sometimes we write about ourselves,” adds Tamara. “Sometimes we think ‘Oh my god, I saw this girl on the street the other day…’ and you imagine and create her life. Or your sister’s had a fight with her boyfriend. So it’s a bit of both. You can use someone’s situation and you write on behalf of them.”
It’s obvious the two enjoy each others’ company thoroughly. Reigan was in the audience of Dancing With The Stars recently to cheer her bandmate on. And during our chat, they laugh as they reminisce, one shows concern as the other’s coffee cup spills over and they playfully finish each others’ sentences.
While we’re left waiting for the debut album to hit stores, we’ll have to make do with ‘Closure’ and the still unknown second single (“Someone high up the ladder changed their mind.”). There’s also the possibility of the girls performing their tracks on Dancing With The Stars, on which Tamara is currently a contestant, but there’s one stipulation;
“As soon as I get kicked off, mate!”, Tamara laughs.
Scarlett Belle’s single ‘Closure’ is available physically and digitally now.
Scarlett Belle’s debut album (tentatively titled ‘Scarlett Belle’) is due later this year.