INTERVIEW: Client Liaison

It’s a very well known fact that Client Liaison have STYLE. Their threads are always on point, their live shows are always a theatrical pop experience, and their music feels like a euphoric night out. With the release of their sophomore studio album ‘Divine Intervention’ (out now), the Melbourne based duo have honed a sound that feels like a touch of nostalgic 80’s meets futuristic pop. 

Touring the country with the radiating lead single ‘The Real Thing’ in 2019, they kicked off the lengthy promotional process for this record. Slowly feeding us the delicious singles ‘The Beat Supreme’, ‘Champagne Affection’, ‘Intervention’, ‘House Of Holy’ and ‘Elevator Up’, they injected a whole lot of serotonin in a time where we really needed it. Cohesively tying the cinematic vision together, the album is high energy from the moment you press play and transports you into its very own world of love and worship. This is a record that you will want (and need) to experience live ASAP, and while plans for touring are up in the air it is comforting to have a euphoric and positively reassuring album to lean on.

I recently chatted to Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller from Client Liaison about the lengthy creative process behind their new album ‘Devine Intervention’, explored tracks like ‘Club Called Heaven’, ‘Eulogy For The Living’ and ‘Witness’, and discussed how magic is getting incorporated into their next live show. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: ‘Divine Intervention’ is a very colourful, reflective and production strong record that did take a while to come together. Looking back on the creative process, was it something that naturally needed the time to conceptually evolve, or did you more-so find yourself constantly touching and working on tracks as they didn’t feel complete? 

HARVEY MILLER: Naturally we are not the fastest songwriters, but quality over quantity we like to think. We do so many extracurricular things with festivals, touring and fashion lines that we just found ourselves really busy and it was hard to tap ourselves on the shoulder and say “hey, we need to focus on this album”. So that was one of the main realisations, but as soon as we did then our heads were down. 

On top of that, the C-word happened. It was somewhat a blessing in disguise as it made the whole world stop and allowed us to have time to really focus on the creative process. Everything prior to the pandemic just feels like a distant memory now. 

TB: ‘Club Called Heaven’ is an absolute anthem in its own right, and it stands out immediately with its groovy melody. Can you explain how this track creatively came together?

MONTE MORGAN: We played Heaven Nightclub in London a few years ago while on tour. After the show I was at a publishing party with some songwriters, and I met some guys who had written the song for Sweden for Eurovision, and they were celebrating as Sweden just made it to the finals. They asked me what I was doing in London and I said “we just played in a club called heaven” and this guy said “that sounds like a song title” so I wrote it down and held onto that idea.

During COVID we were writing over Zoom and we did a session with Joel Quartermain from Eskimo Joe, and Edwin White. I brought up that title and we worked over one of Harvey’s beats and fleshed out the concept. By now we had a bit more direction. We had these more spiritually inclined songs like ‘House Of Holy’ and ‘Witness’, and this kinda felt like the perfect album opener. 

It was really fun using all of those double meaning spiritual/drug high references with using a club high with a church, and actually talking about a physical place as well as a transcendental place. We did that over Zoom and then came together and finessed it a bit. But we actually ended up using a different beat that we worked on with Xavier Dunn in Sydney. That song really took a while, and it was one of the last songs to come together for the record. 

TB: ‘Eulogy For The Living’ is another immediate stand out, but it’s also one of the smoother tracks on the record. I feel like there is a bit of an INXS inspired groove to it, so who or what were some of the references you actually had for the track? 

MM: It’s quite rare for us to write a song with just one instrument, but this one was written pretty much purely on the piano. This song had more writers, producers and went through more computers and versions than any other song we’ve worked on before. We were working with Edwin and Joel again, and I brought up a lyric I had worked on in a session with Mike Waters. It was important for us to have a slower and more emotionally centred song on the record with a deeper meaning, so we started to work on it on the piano. 

We made so many versions that it’s hard to remember what the references exactly were, but that intro really clicked on the piano. We tried so many times to produce it up, and it wasn’t until we worked with Dann Hume that we took hold of it. He inverted the chords and used a M1 patch on his end. And it does bring back ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ vibes, which is really awesome. 

TB: The album opens and closes with some spoken word samples. What was your influence behind this visual touch, and where did they specifically come from? 

HM: They come from YouTube which I think is the contemporary version of digging for samples in crates, which is a romantic notion of the way Hip-Hop and dance producers in the 90’s did. Hilltop Hoods famously captured the sample of ‘Nosebleed Section’ while one of the blokes was perusing a Sunday market with his girlfriend in regional Victoria extremely hungover as he was out the night before. So there is this idea of getting out there physically and finding these samples, but I feel like the modern and less romantic way of doing it is trawling YouTube. So I inputted some key words and was clicking through pages and listening to all of these different audio files, especially ones that had like 30 views to try find something special and unique. It took a while but we found some cool ones like a French film excerpt. 

TB: Closing track ‘Witness’ does feel like it perfectly bookends the record conceptually and sonically. Where in the process did you write this track?

MM: It was actually the oldest song on the record. It’s from 2017 when we were touring Europe and we took part in a APRA Songhub session in Berlin. We were playing some shows in Germany, so we had a few days of writing at this Songhub camp where basically you would write a different song a day with a different group of people. On our last day we were writing at Riverside studios. We were in the studio right on the river, and we were paired with a German producer called Matthias Dierkes and this string player called Jonathan Dreyfus. 

He whipped out his electric violin and bass, and then Harvey gave him a beat while he laid down some electric bass which we used as a live bass loop. It had this ‘Tinseltown In The Rain’ feel, this very British, European, introspective, walking down cobble streets feel. I preposterously brought up some lyrics and they just clicked, and it came together really quickly. It’s quite nice to write a song where the strings are a core part of the song as they were written on the first day. Usually you do strings later and they are all the embellishments. But doing it in reverse actually made us restrain ourselves. 

HM: A little fun fact for you is that the actual studio we wrote in at Riverside had a plaque on the door saying “DJ Sammy”. It was probably the weirdest song to write in his studio as it’s the complete opposite of what he does *laughs*. 

TB: For a little while I feel like there were persona’s within your artistry behind Client Liaison, but this album feels a bit more directly personal?

HM: I would probably put that down to a lot of our content and creative processes have been pretty “face to face” in the sense of zoom sessions, interviews and performances. People are seeing us pretty stripped back, and not “in character” as per-say. We still maintain the narrative, but I think there is more face to the camera instead of “dressed to the nines” like the visuals that are coming through our socials now. It does feel personal, so I’m really interested by your reaction to that, as I think it’s great. 

MM: We always try to reveal parts of ourselves especially in performance. The second song we ever released was called ‘Feeling’ which was all about showing your feelings, and I think ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ didn’t have that same vulnerability as our first EP. So this time around it was really important to have songs like ‘Eulogy For The Living’ and ‘Prisoners Of The High Life’ on the album. We were always treading the line between theatre and reality, as that is a key part of what we do. 

TB: Sonically this album takes influences from the 80’s which has been a huge reference point for you since the beginning, but it also reinterprets these foundations with a hint of what you think the future sounds like. So who do you think is one of the most underrated 80’s pop acts that you think we should make sure we’re acquainted with, as well as a rising artist that you think is a future innovator?

MM: I actually think George Michael is underrated as people don’t realise that he was actually a producer. He had an incredible ability to craft the sound of a record. And he’s often remembered for his slow ballads and his adult contemporary style that became more popular at the end of his career. But then I would say for up and coming, I really like Laura Mvula who Dann Hume works on. 

HM: I really like this song called ‘Stacking Chairs’ by Middle Kids. A friend of ours directed their video clip, and it’s not my kind of music but I really got into it which I love. Otherwise there is this band called Royel Otis who have this great song out called ‘Without You’, and I was really feeling some fresh energy coming from their new stuff. 

TB: When it comes to live shows, you are both very visually charged with ideas. And your Splendour XR set was an exciting glimpse into the visual world behind this album. So when you look at what else you want this record to visually represent in a live element, what do you see? 

MM: We are actually working with a magician, so we are really excited to weave magic into the new live show. There’s a cult and spiritual element to the album, as well as this idea of the “fraudster”, so the idea of us duping the audience with magic sounds really fun. We are really excited to break down all the new material too, as it’s rare to do that. 

HM: Live shows are always about doing things that people aren’t doing, and it really isn’t that hard to do. When we were starting off as support acts, if there were no lights we would get our friends to switch the house lights on and off in moments, and bring a smoke machine, and things like that to add something. It’s pretty easy to stand out, you just have to put effort in. So it’s exciting working on magic because there is no other band in the country doing this at the moment. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about the album. Are you ready?

MM: Yes!

TB: The emoji that best describes our new album ‘Divine Intervention’ is…

MM: The candle

TB: The song that nearly didn’t make the album was…

MM: ‘Club Called Heaven’ as it was the last to be finished

TB: A lyric on the album that makes me laugh is…

MM: I“Sell your soul for cheap emotions, but who will love you when you’re gone” from ‘Eulogy For The Living’. I think that’s funny as we ended up selling our soul as a NFT. 

TB: The song that took the longest to hone it’s sound and vision was…

HM: ‘Club Called Heaven’ as it went through 5 different visions.

MM: ‘Eulogy For The Living’ too!

TB: The song that we’re most excited to bring into the live stage is…

HM: Probably ‘Unloaded’!

‘Divine Introspection’ is out now!