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The Dwarf in Conversation With: Client Liaison




Their film clips feature a montage of John Howard power-walking, kangaroos, vegemite and Bob Hawke sculling a beer. However, there’s more to Client Liaison than a penchant for Australiana, and a desire to reject the cultural cringe. “We’re not, and we’re not going to be, the official band of Ansett Airlines”, says Harvey Miller, one half of the turn-of-the-nineties corporate synth pop duo.

“A lot of these themes are not constant, they’re just sort of underlying. Not every song is about Australia, nor does every song have Ansett iconography in it”, he says.

The Australiana idea many have come to associate the duo with isn’t a mere joke. “We’re patriotic”, Millar says. But he’s keen to explain that the duo are not defined by patriotic iconography. “It’s served us well and helped to communicate the emotions and sentiments we were going for, but we’re not going to be flogging a dead horse. There are many other things, visual aids, we can use."

Both Millar and front man Monte Morgan are no strangers to the visual side of things. Morgan studied creative arts, and Millar is currently completing a fine arts degree, so it’s no surprise that the pair have had heavy input into the visual elements of their production. “We’ve always been in creative mindsets, so it seemed very natural for us to art direct our own photo shoots and do our own clips for some of the songs, that kind of stuff”, says Millar.

The duo have accomplished a lot since their appearance at Golden Plains in 2013, a gig that Miller describes as a “breakthrough” moment. “When we got back to Melbourne we were encouraged to do our first headline show. We didn’t think we’d sell any tickets, but it sold out with two weeks to go until the show date. If I could ever pinpoint one poignant moment in our brief lifespan, that was it”, he says.

They’ve since gone on to play at boutique festivals including Let Them Eat Cake, Laneway Festival, Mona Foma and Paradise Music Festival. The smaller festival format is just how Miller likes things. “One, or at most, two stages – that’s how I like to experience music”, he says.

Their impressive slew of shows is no mean feat for a duo with just three singles and a b-side. I asked Millar whether we could expect an album any time soon. “That’s always on the agenda, but the goal posts are always moving. But we’re both full time musicians now, so we’re working on making music every day. By that logic, hopefully an album accumulates”.

In the mean time, Client Liaison aren’t showing any sign of slowing down. Their first national tour just kicked off on Sunday at the Portsea Beach Club. Two Melbourne shows have already sold out, and a third has just been added.

The Dwarf: Where did the name Client Liaison come from?
Harvey Millar: I was working at Murray White Room, a commercial gallery in Melbourne, and my boss, Murray, was on the phone to a loan approver. A past employee, and friend of mine, was getting a loan approved for a fancy sports car, and the loan guy was cross checking the past employees role and if he was reliable enough for a loan. Murray was sort of doing a favour and talking him up, and when asked what kind of role my friend had been involved in, said “a bit of client liaison”. I overheard him say that, and it stuck out. I hadn’t heard that in years.

The Australiana references in your lyrics aren’t anywhere near as obvious until you see the clips. Was that your intention?
That’s planned. There’s a duality. These things function separately, and together. I’m sure that you could say that there’s a degree of humour in the videos, and I wouldn’t deny that, but unlike a joke we don’t really rely on a punch line. It’s a more sophisticated form of humour. And as you said, they’re only contained within the visuals. So when someone is listening to our songs on their iPod, or in a nightclub, they’re not chuckling, they’re dancing. We tend to be quite theatrical so I think the absurdity is probably the main source of why people may chuckle. It’s just the sheer absurdity of some of the situations we get into in the video clips.

Is there a bit more of serious patriotic message behind that?
Definitely. You know, a lot of people fail to make the distinction between nationalism and patriotism, so that’s something we try to make quite clear – we’re patriotic.

You’ve got a pretty distinctive, niche sound/image/set of influences, how did you come together? Were those mutual? Or did one of you have to convince the other that it was a good idea?
Yeah, it was a fairly equal collaboration. Monte was singing songs about Australia, and I was quite obsessed with Australian plutocrats and that kind of imagery and sentiment of the 80s. So then we kind of fused our two mindsets and that point, and came up with Client Liaison. But a lot of these themes are not constant. They’re just sort of underlying themes. Not every song is about Australia, nor does every song have Ansett iconography in it.

Is that something you think you’ll move away from more in the future?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve made a concerned decision. Like, the video clips with the Ansett stuff in them, it’s already occurred twice. We’re not going to be flogging a dead horse. It’s served us well and it’s helped communicate the emotions and sentiments we were going for. And, now, there are many other things, visual aids, we can use. We’re not, and we’re not going to be, the official band of Ansett Airlines.

Are you sick of talking about Australia?
Definitely.

Festival or smaller gig, which do you prefer?
Festival. Boutique festival, like Golden Plains or Falls. Festivals that have a non-hierarchical line up, and which are a bit more curated. Those with one, or at most, two stages. That’s kind of how I like to experience music. It’s funny you ask because some of my friends are at Coachella at the moment, and as happy as I am for them to be there, especially as a few of them are playing, it must be torture because you’ve got, like, Blood Orange and some equally amazing artist playing at the same time… it’s tormenting. Who are you going to pick?

What‘s been your favourite gig to play, and why?
I guess Golden Plains, because, as I mentioned before, it’s got a non-hierarchical line up, which meant that a smaller band, an unknown band like Client Liaison at the time, could be offered a high energy, pumping slot, at midnight on the Saturday night. That usually wouldn’t happen at another festival. So I guess it’s more curated in that sense. That was also a breakthrough gig. We got back to Melbourne were encouraged to do our first headline show at the Toff, and we just dismissed it thinking we weren’t going to sell any tickets. But we were nagged into doing it, and it sold out, like… extremely fast, with two weeks til the show date. We we’re just blown away, we never thought we’d be able to do something like that. So that was quite a poignant moment, if I could ever pinpoint one poignant moment in our brief lifespan of two or two and a half years.

What can we expect from you in the future? Obviously you’ve got the tour coming up, but are there any plans for an album in the near future? Where are you at with that?
Yeah, I mean, we’re always walking towards an album, trying to accumulate tracks. That’s always on the agenda, but the goal posts are always moving. It sometimes could be an EP. What I should say, I guess, is that we’re working every day. We’re both full time musicians now. So, we’re working on making music every day. By that logic, hopefully an album accumulates. Otherwise, what else we’re doing is the visual narrative, and the theatricality, and the collectivism. So, every song, we’d love to have a video clip for. We’re not to try and tout it to be like, a visual album, or any of that kind of jargon. It’s just that we like video clips for every song. It’s just something we want to do. It’s not meant to be interpreted as some kind of pop rock opera. It’s just that that’s another thing on our agenda that we want to tick off.

Have you come from artistic backgrounds?
Monte did creative arts at Melbourne Uni and I’m at the VCA at the moment, doing fine arts. We’ve always been in creative mindsets. We were at the same school as well; we were both involved with music there. In terms of education and institutions, we’ve always been involved with those institutions with a creative slant. So it seemed very natural for us to art direct our photo shoots and do our own clips for some of the songs, and all that kind of stuff.


Client Liaison are touring the country throughout April, and have just added an extra date for Melbourne.

Tour Dates

Sunday April 20th - Portsea Beach Club, Portsea, VIC

Friday April 25th - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (sold out)

Saturday April 26th - Amplifire, Perth

Sunday April 27th - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (sold out)

Thursday May 1st - Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane

Friday May 2nd - Elsewhere, Gold Coast

Saturday May 3rd - GoodGod Small Club, Sydney

Friday May 9th - Cats at Rocket Bar, Adelaide

Saturday may 10th - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
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