Monte Morgan (vocals) and Harvey Miller (keyboard, production) are the larger-than-life mavericks behind the time-transcending audio-visual project that is Client Liaison. With their heartfelt pop anthems and an aesthetic steeped in the golden age of late ‘80s, early ‘90s Australiana, the pair create a stylised vision that’s easy to get lost in. But, as they explain to me on a dodgy phone line that makes them sound like they’re talking on a rotary phone (which might well have been the case), Client Liaison isn’t so much about thinking as it is about feeling. And now that their debut EP is on the verge of release, the pair’s unique narrative is only about to reach a whole new plateau.
Because you’re such big characters whenever you’re on-stage or in a video, the first thing I always wonder about you two is what you’re like in normal day-to-day life?
Monte: Oh, I think we like to have fun together. We’re always laughing at things. But I don’t know – we’re serious as well. You’d have to meet us.
Monte: There’s a strong narrative with Client Liaison lyrically and visually, and we try to turn this fiction into non-fiction and actualise this narrative.
An example would be when we’re on tour we like to stay in hotels with decor that’s appropriate to the era which informs our music – late ‘80s, early ‘90s – and in the morning we happily pop into Parliament House for breakfast before our flight to the next stop. In terms of things like fashion we wear similar things in our day-to-day lives, again to turn the fictional narrative of Client Liaison into non-fiction and make it real life.
I’m imagining the two of you brunching at Parliament and it’s a really great mental image.
Harvey: There’s an element of theatre to it, and that’s what we like. We like performing, so when we’re on stage or in song, it’s a performance.
Monte: And it’s an important point we like to stress: whatever you do, if you do it with conviction, a seriousness is conveyed. It’s kind of like if you look at Prince: he’s on stage in a leotard or a bikini in some instances doing crazy things, and in itself that seems pretty weird, but because he performs with conviction it grabs the whole thing and renders it with a seriousness. We like to make sure we always present ourselves with a strong conviction of what we’re doing.
I caught you live on Australia Day this year, which is probably the most fitting date on the calendar to go to one of your shows. How important is the live aspect to the total Client Liaison experience?
Harvey: I guess it’s the proper embodiment. Some people have said it doesn’t make sense until you see us live and to realise how seriously we take it. The songs are earnest, they’re heartfelt, and they’re emotive. So to see us live kind of sums us up, I guess.
Monte: To add to that, it’s always good to remember the vision between the visual and the sonic. They work separately but they also function together, so you can listen to our songs never having seen our video clips and happily enjoy them as a standalone pop song, or you can combine that with the video and have another multi-sensory experience. Or you could just appreciate it for the video.
So there’s a lot of angles you can come at Client Liaison on. And it’s just as important to remember that they can function both separately and together, so that you don’t have to solely listen and watch Client Liaison in the context of a video; you can happily just happily listen to it on your iPod. But a lot of people assume that the videos are inextricably linked to the song and the subject matter of the songs, but a lot of the time that’s sort of not the case – some of the time it is.
On the subject of your clips, it looks like a lot of effort must go into creating these nostalgic ‘80–‘90s era videos. Does equal thought get put into the visual and sonic elements of your aesthetic?
Monte: Yeah, definitely. At the end of the day the music is first and foremost – the videography and the film are hobbies of ours so we enjoy putting a lot of effort into our clips as well. It’s just one of the facets of a multi-sensory offering.
Harvey, you’re studying at art school, right?
Harvey: Yeah, but I had to defer this year. And Monte’s done Creative Arts at Melbourne so we both have formal training and an educational background based in the arts.
Can you please run me through what goes behind the scenes to create perfect blue steel Client Liaison portrait?
Harvey: Well, we collect a lot of clothes. We have a big wardrobe department in our studio, so we just put on some good-looking clothes and pick a few favourite spots. If we do a day of photo shoots we’ll do multiple outfits and multiple locations and multiple ideas so we’ve got more to work with. We found that when we do press they’d want to take photos and we weren’t in control so we just prefer to have fun and do it our way
Monte: Once again it’s a continuation of the theatre of the Client Liaison experience. It’s imagery, it’s conveying our ideas through images, and yeah, it’s an important part.
For someone who was born in ’94 and missed the halcyon days of the late ‘80s early ‘90s, what is it about this era that inspires you so much?
Harvey: I guess all in all for me it was just the sensibility of the time, and you know, also sonically the sounds and the technologies of that time. But we don’t like to think it’s this one-dimensional, harking back, rehashing thing. It doesn’t seem too distant. I don’t think it’s too much of an odd thing to reference that time. A lot of people reference rock music and that’s of the ‘60s and ‘70s and no-one really questions rock musicians why they’re harking back to that time. It’s just a given – it’s a part of the musical trajectory that has powered the sound that we’re into.
Monte: It’s all out of our interests, I guess. It’s like someone who’s in a heavy metal band would no doubt wear leather jackets and have piercings in their days off from performing – it’s sort of a given.
Harvey: It’s not too calculated – we don’t like to think we’re sitting here and romanticising that era too much.
Harvey: Monte concurs.
Up until now the Client Liaison story has only been told through five videos, so what’s it like being able to release your first proper tracklisting out into the world?
It feels great. We’re bringing together songs that have been made over the years. Our favourite songs, really. And we’ve done a video for every one of them. It feels good to put together a six-track release and release it physically.
It’s an exciting time for us.
Client Liaison are currently out on their national tour in support of their debut EP, which is available now.