Riding the elevator up to Client Liaison HQ (propped amongst the bustling Collins St in Melbourne’s CBD) I’m attempting to watch as much of the new video for ‘Wild Life‘ as I can. It’s dropped just minutes before my chat with Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller AO – with it’s kooky visuals paired with a detailed storyline, there was a lot to ask. That said, in general there’s a lot to chat about with Client Liaison – their debut album Diplomatic Immunity, a zany live show and an aesthetic so distinct it’s recognizable at a glance.
Here’s a really cool thing. My site did one of your first interviews a couple of years ago. I was taking a look back on it the other day and was like ‘wow, how far we’ve all come!’
Harvey: And how far we kind of haven’t come (laughs) it’s our debut record! A lot of people thought our EP was our album, but anyway.
Hey – it’s all about building the suspense right! That’s kind of what I wanted to talk about. The record has been such a work in progress for some time. It must feel really good that it’s almost out?
Harvey: Yeah defintely. For us it doesn’t feel like a long time, because we had the EP of course. But Client Liaison is also a multi sensory experience, so for example we’ve got the costumes. We were in Bali last week getting more costumes made and we’ve got a designer line that’s going to come out in a few weeks. So a fashion line, video clips and the live show. Although it has been somewhat of a gap between the EP and the album, we’ve defintely been keeping busy by other means.
It’s cool that Client Liaison is multi-faceted project. I’ve been to a couple of your live shows and it’s such an experience. And now too the clothing line – it’s like a band, slash brand.
Monte: Yeah defintely, it’s fun! We get to do such fun stuff.
Harvey: Our next single is ‘Off White Limousine’, which we’ll be pushing out in the next few weeks. We’re doing a video clip for that, so we’ve invested in a limousine. We’re going to have a limousine business and all that. So it’s like we’re in band, but we’re also trying other avenues to widen the experience.
I loved the little album booklet with all of the liner notes. You’ve got all these different collaborators listed, and it’s just like ‘spot the name!’ I saw Hugo from Flight Facilities in there, Cleopold…
Harvey. Even Touch Sensitive who did a couple of bass slides, like 4 years ago when we had a jam. We were like, “are any other credits? Yeah, Mikey! His bass slides.” We’ve got to mention him, we can’t not.
Monte: A year or two ago we set out to collaborate with as many people as possible, which was cool. So there was songwriting with Geordie from Cleopold and we also went to this Songhubs workshop through APRA, which is how ‘Off White Limousine’ was created. It was cool to work with outside producers and writers. To see their workflow and how they write.
Harvey: We wrote ‘Off White Limousine’ with Dan Hume, a Melbourne producer and Mr Hudson – which was kind of weird. He’s on the new DJ Snake album, on the last song and he did one of my favourite songs with Kanye of 808’s and Heartbreaks, ‘Paranoid’. He’s had an esteemed career himself so it was kind of weird to have worked with him. You know, if you look at the notes – like you said, there’s all kind of names and faces that appear.
Yeah! One in particular I wanted to ask about was a sample of Sydney producer, JOY. How did that come about?
Harvey: That was quite odd. And quite embarrassing too. She sent us one of her tracks to remix, and the way that my audio production software works is, I can browse the folders of other projects. So I’ll be like ‘well this song is in the same key as that, so I’ll browse the audio.’ So I’m constantly browsing different media, and in this case there was a stem of a guitar track that worked really well with ‘A Foreign Affair’. So I dropped it in, then was like ‘hang on a second – that’s JOY’s ambient guitar.’ It was a stem from this remix that we never finished.
It’s long winded, how that came about. But she was cool with it, and her management were too.
Monte: Yeah, it’s the guitar in the intro and breakdown. That ambient sound that follows the chords.
Tina Arena WAS ON that track TOO. That’s cool! How did that HAPPEN?
Harvey: We just hit her up! It was kind of a long shot. The lyrics in that song actually pay tribute to her. In the verse she sings ‘as we kiss on the beach in Sorrento’ which was an ode to Sorrento Moon (I Remember). So we were like, let’s see if Tina Arena can sing it? So she came in and went to lay it down, and we were like ‘oh this is a bit awkward – are you sure you don’t want to change that?’ and she was fine with it. So Tina Arena singing those words, again, is pretty special.
You also sampled politicians in ‘Canberra Won’t Be Calling Tonight.’
Monte: It’s from Question Time. A few poignant moments.
Harvey: The senate enquiry, with Kim Carr in the breakdown grilling Scott Morrison. That was fun.
Obviously it’s a pretty deliberate choice to include these ‘throwbacks’ and references to Australian culture in the tracks?
Harvey: Yeah, another point we always like to remind people of is the Australian identity is a common theme, but it’s not really one we push because we live in Australia. It’s just kind of by proxy. For instance, ‘Canberra’ isn’t a song about Australian politics but rather just about politics. So it’s not as if we set out to talk about Australia, it’s more like setting out to talk about the country we live in – which happens to be Australia. It’s always healthy to remind people that we’re not pushing this social, Australian agenda. It’s more like, we live here. We’re just talking about our surroundings. It’s more unaffected that way.
We try to remain a-political. There’s nothing on the album which is really like – ‘this is what we think about Australia.’
I got that vibe. That’s it’s political to some degree, but there’s not necessary an agenda?
Harvey: Everything is so in your face these days, with the echo chambers of social media, that we could think of nothing worse than trying to take a line on something.
The Wild Life video dropped today! You worked with director Tim White. How did that come about?
Monte: Ruth Morris, our producer suggested him. He was amazing, he storyboarded the clip and there was only one shot that didn’t end up being used. He had a vision of what it was going to look like, and it pretty much entirely looked like that. Which meant the efficiency of the shooting was incredible. It was all done in a studio, and was crazy seeing the amount of people he could bring together.
Harvey: It’s good working with someone who could share our vision with us. The Client Liaison narrative is so instilled that when we go to do a clip – it’s kind of like, well it’s already written. It’s all there already, so for him to develop that with us was great.
Monte: He’s very consultative. He’d come in here every week and we’d run through the script. Sometimes it’s hard to even get a script off a director, it’s just a few ideas. You never actually get a storyboard.
Harvey: That little vignette we did at the start, we remember work-shopping that. We’re really proud of how that one turned out, because we’re in character there. We’re playing Client Liaison and though we’d like we don’t leave character – just look at this place. But, I’m quite proud of how we actually executed those lines. We want to do a film in the next couple of years – maybe before the second album or after the second album.
You know, when you get in front of a camera – the camera doesn’t lie. And to see ourselves smashing out some lines, that was pretty cool.
Obviously you’ve got the album coming out soon which is very exciting, but what else is on the card? Are you planning a tour or something like that?
Monte: yeah next year, because we’re doing a bunch of festival shows over Summer. In March or April I’d say we’ll tour around Australia. We’re putting it all together now.
So we’ve got the album, the festivals, tour and limousine (laughs).
Monte: Can’t forget the designer line as well. We’ll have a pop up store that’s coming. I’m sure there’s some other bag of tricks though.
Harvey: Yeah, just try to do a bunch of different things and get everyone involved.