Given their shared appreciation for story telling and dignified belief in the Australian identity, Harvey Miller and Monte Morgan naturally found themselves writing music together. From the studio to the top end of town, Client Liaison’s sound plays out like a long lunch followed by a round of cocktails. Describing their sonic palate as ‘dance electric’, ‘new jack swing’ and ‘pop ballad’, this multisensory experience will feed any listeners’ appetite. International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style – this is Client Liaison.
Let’s look back; childhood. Did you guys know each other way back then?
Harvey: Yeah we did actually, we met back then via my brother who was in Monte’s year at school and that’s how the musical partnership formedd.
Right, so that kind of gets into my next question, which is what was your main motive behind the two of you getting together to make music?
Harvey: Well we were both very passionate about music but very naive in that we didn’t know how to come about it, and we learnt to make music together because Monte had this great studio set-up that was kind of a drop in place for lots of friends. Back when we were really on the cusp of laptops and mobile recordings, this transition between the old school and new school; we would have these sixteen track recorders but they would have CD drives in them.
Monte: and then you bounce that onto a computer and edit it.
Harvey: Shortly after that we all got laptops and the production process ramped up.
Monte: Yeah, and it does influence the music. It turns actually into a more personal project because its your laptop so you’re the producer, in a way everyone’s a producer, but everyone helps each other out.
Awesome, so you guys knew each other for ages and before you made music together?
Monte: Yeah, because I was always good friends with Harvey’s brother and so I’d always see Harvey when I’d go to Geordie’s house or around at school and Harvey was always a real wisecrack, like he would be super confident for his age, he would come up and just pull the joke out. For example, to our friend who would rap, Harvey would come up and go ‘Jeremy Korrin your rhymes are borin!’ and another friend who did this beautiful painting, asking him if the tear represented the pain in his heart. He had a lot of nerve about him.
Beyond your own brand of indie pop, what kind of music do you guys personally enjoy? Do you have any similarities (or maybe some stark differences?)
Harvey: I listen to all kinds of music and I feel like there’s always a time and place to listen to certain type of music. Lately, I’ve been listening to lots of Deep Forrest and similar artists, as well as Peter Gabriel. Spotify has been helpful because I kind of go off on these weird tangents when I’m listening.
Monte: I like groovy music that makes you boogie and kind of fruity, colourful, fun things. But that extends to different to many different genres, I mean, I genuinely enjoy Indian music, African music, Brazilian music I also love. But in terms of our shared interest, I think we both have a passion for digital synthesis, clean sophisticated sounds and hi-fi. The power of the studio basically.
So do you guys have a method to how you normally go about things (when working on songs) or do you just let it happen naturally?
Harvey: We like to throw stuff at a wall and see what sticks.
Monte: Yeah, like one of us could bring something up and be like ‘Wow we haven’t worked in this world before, let’s give it a crack.’ And whenever we are really excited by a song we are working on, it goes to the top of our list, we have the song called ‘hotel stay’ which we wrote and mixed and finished like two, three years ago.
What differences can you feel between performing at festivals and performing at smaller, club gigs?
The advantage of a big stage and a big crowd of people, but you have to really vibe yourself otherwise the people aren’t gonna [feel it]. Like you can feel the people, but they’re at a distance and everything is on display so it’s more nerve racking, but more fun I guess.
And you’d have to try and communicate with the people all the way at the back as well..
Yeah which is our kind of style, like we love that big live thing.
Your live shows have been known to be quite unique, has anything completely outrageous happened at one of your shows?
Once we were playing at the MCA Gallery in Sydney and a man came up and told us to turn it down [laughs] because he couldn’t hear himself speak and speaking to friends. So that was quite weird, but I can’t really think of anything else. People started hassling him and we gave him the mic in the end and he started shouting.
When you started building the Client Liaison world how much was consciously saying, lets take all these things we like and create this 80s persona. And how much was you just making shit you like and then stepping back and seeing it had taken a form?
Harvey: We did it because we like it, there’s a seriousness to it. It’s the era that informs us. Prince would rock out on stage in a leotard…no one is laughing at Prince.
Monte: Well some people are.
You’re getting bigger and interacting with different kinds of media, what are the questions you’re getting asked a lot?
Monte: Why the 80s? Why do you love Australia? The less they know about us the more they ask those questions. We’ve answered those questions for so many years you could just look it up on the internet and find 30 answers.
Harvey: It’s like people asking rock acts: What’s with the 70s? What’s with the guitars?
One of the things that struck me about your EP is that it’s a compilation of songs you’ve produced over quite a number of years, even going back as far as 2006 and 2007 (for Groove the Physical and End of the Earth). When you revisit those songs, does it take you back to a different version of yourself? What are your memories from who you both were at that time?
HM: Groove the Physical was the first song that Monte and I did together. At the time I was living at my Mum’s place at Elwood Park in Melbourne, in this Victorian house with a turret on the top and it was one street back from Port Phillip Bay. They’d have these turrets on the tops of the houses looking over the beach, so you could get out the binoculars from how-many-hundred years ago and see ships coming in, race down to the docks and get first pick on the cargo, whatever was coming in from the trade routes. That was the location where I had all my keyboards and computers set up, so we would sit in this little turret and record music up there. We did End of the Earth and Groove the Physical there – it was a great little studio, with good tunes and good times. When the wind was in a certain direction it would smell like the ocean, and when the jets would fly over for the Formula 1 Grand Prix every year I’d stick a microphone out the window, so I have 6 years of jet recordings. It was really cool. Those songs were quite a while ago so we do feel that the stuff we are working on now is a bit more contemporary sonically and we’re looking forward to sharing that.