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As soon as we found out quirky apothecarists Kiehl’s were joining the line up at MECCA, we knew a heart-to-heart with Client Liaison — our personal favourite line-up additions and once-upon-a-time Kiehl’s collaborators — would be a must. Fun, bouncy, retro-inspired beats aside, Melbourne-based alt-pop duo Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller are the embodiment of self-expression, elevating their brand through a stark visual style that has become synonymous with their music, live performances and anything else they may touch (a limousine service, convention-style festival, and fashion line included). Lucky for us, Morgan and Miller agreed to sit down with the Memo to unpack their beauty routines, share the products they can’t live without, and to reveal what makes Morgan’s hair so big (we hear it’s full of secrets).
When asked to introduce themselves and the inspiration behind their style, the answer was instant, simultaneous and undeniably colourful; “international in flavour, cosmopolitan in style,” they nod. “Think of the idea of Istanbul on a busy morning,” Miller — the band’s keyboardist and producer — goes on, setting the scene; “lots of people moving everywhere, and we’re this kind of like, diplomat abroad — the cosmopolitan businessperson. Jet-setting through corners of the globe, in hotel lobby bars drinking martinis and paying for it by either cheque or Diners Club. Constantly in transit and travel, sealing deals, and adding a bit of a diplomatic edge to it.”
With a notably eclectic outlook on the Australian music, fashion and events industries — and now here, talking beauty at MECCA HQ — Morgan looks to his idol, Prince, as a source of inspiration; “he embodies his sound and he’s multifaceted — he designs his own clothes, videos and shows...he’s hitting people at multiple levels. It’s all just expression.” “And that’s what beauty is like to us,” Miller adds. “For example, sometimes I would dress a bit androgynous when I was younger, and I guess I still do with some Bowie references — a bit of mascara, colour — it’s interesting. There’s a whole world that we’re starting to get a bit more involved in.” Nodding his head (and subsequently bouncing the teased-out curls that complete his eighties afro-meets-mullet ‘do), vocalist Morgan agrees; “I think the word expression is good, because we’ve expressed ourselves through a limousine service, and a festival…so it’s endless; there’s creativity everywhere, including in your appearance for sure.”
When Client Liaison walk into a room, they walk in hair-first. Miller — previously platinum blonde — boasts a new MECCA-approved pastel pink hue, in that style that looks like it would make a ‘swoosh’ noise if he were to glide his fingers through it (he credits his Living Proof shampoo for that). Morgan’s hair, on the other hand, is a whole other beast, with a regime rollcall to match; “it’s stripped of the oils!” Morgan proclaims (as we discover that popstars suffer from post-haircut regret, just like the rest of us), “stripped of the oils because I unwittingly used the wrong shampoo"
In his words, Morgan “follow(s) something called shampoo is a conspiracy,” so while his routine is shampoo-free on a good day (see above), the vocalist makes up for it with ample hair product, calling out the extensive collection he likes to cycle through depending on the day, the event and the vibe. “I use a lot of waxes, dry products; salt and clay, and also mousse! Every brand under the sun. I don’t use shampoo but I’ve got a lot of conditioners. I find that with all products, you just need to cycle through them — you shouldn’t stay on one for too long.”
Embracing versatility in his mighty mop, Morgan likes to switch up his routine in order to achieve a multitude of stage, photoshoot or even runway-ready looks. “I usually wash at night with a conditioner, not shampoo, and put some product in — I like a very rich, oily, leave-in conditioner with shea butter. And then maybe some curl cream too, and I’ll sleep on that overnight so I’ve got curls in the morning. The next day I’ll put in some extra products and I might diffuse, if I wanted curls, but if I want volume I’ll use a clay and probably blow dry on the spot. I like mixing products — it’s always new…it’s like a cocktail.” Joking, Miller chimes in; “and then some child’s tears…”
Just like their music, Miller’s skincare ethos cuts through the noise; “I love the contrast. For me, it’s always about contrasting high end products with low end — like having a bottle of Chandon in one hand and a McDonald's cheeseburger in the other — it’s the rich with the poor, the good with the bad, the cheap with the expensive.” As for his product rotation, Miller reveals himself as a true MECCA-man boasting a newfound love for a MECCA favourite, the Mario Badescu Glycolic Toner; “I’ve really been enjoying and just starting to learn how to use a glycolic acid toner, seeing how that works and how it makes your skin feel. I found that when I’d come out of the shower, my skin either would just dry up or be really oily, so the glycolic toner seems to neutralise and balance my skin which is really cool.” Miller also counts on the Mario Badescu Facial Spray and This Works’ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray , filing them as go-tos for that extra pep in his step. When it comes to his body, the musician just can’t seem to go past a classic bar of soap.
Unlike his hair, Morgan keeps it simple, relying on the cult-classic Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser (the same iconic moisturiser the band redesigned in 2017, raising funds for The Australian Children’s Music Foundation), a natural deodorant, and a natural, liquid soap to keep him feeling fresh. Dipping into the realm of colour, “every now and then,” the front-man will apply a touch of foundation for shoots and shows, after a makeup artist suggested he find a favourite, and get it in the right shade. Always one to listen to the advice of makeup artists (a fantastic trait, in our opinion), Morgan refers to his shower technique as a key aspect of his regime, after being tipped-off by a makeup-artist friend; “at the end of my shower I have a cold shower because it’s good for your motivation and for your skin. But I learnt that you shouldn’t change the temperature too quickly because it can cause broken blood vessels. So now I’m gradually making it colder.”
We’re all accustomed to the stress of curating — and then packing — your makeup and toiletries before a holiday, but for a tour? That’s a whole new level, and Morgan agrees: “I’m very anal — I make sure I always have my products. I don’t want to change my routine or use the ‘in-house’ provided stuff. Every now and then we stay in a motel, and you get some really dry soap — I don’t want to be using that! So I spend a lot of time packing and unpacking: I fully unpack my bag, even if I’m there for one night. I might do that 100 shows a year.” Miller isn’t so bothered, with somewhat of a soft spot for “the full body scrub with the motel soap bar”.
As non-popstars ourselves (though our late-night karaoke performances say otherwise), we had to get the low-down on the beauty crimes and pleasures of tour life. The crime? “Harvey uses a KFC wipe on his face, that’s his classic move” Morgan joked. And the pleasure? “Oh, the mist,” starts Miller; “there’s nothing more opulent than reaching down to a mist, and just letting your face have it. We actually had it on our rider for a while.” As Morgan reminisces of “a cheeky facial spray mid-show, through a keyboard solo,” Miller mentions how he secretly loved a spritz of the stuff after a long flight, and frankly, we don’t blame them — we’re pretty obsessed with misting too. Naturally, we made sure to hook them up with our very own Hydrating Mist after the interview.
If you haven’t heard it already (emerge from under your rock and do so here), the duo’s latest release, ‘The Real Thing’, can only be described as total pop banger, and a sure-fire tease for the sweet, sweet tunes we might expect from an upcoming album or their national tour, kicking off in Melbourne next month. “The Real Thing is a way of thinking and feeling,” Morgan starts. “I think we all struggle with self-belief on multiple levels, and it’s about just trying to encompass positive thoughts. It’s also just fun for us to make a positive song and play it live, creating more positivity.” Not far from the message of the song are the duo’s outlook on grooming and self-care; “grooming is in our nature — sometimes you just want to do it and like, you should! It’s a very natural calling. It brings your mojo to life.” In an answer we couldn’t have aligned closer to the MECCA values ourselves, the Memo team are now rallying for The Real Thing to become MECCA’s official spring/summer anthem. In the meantime, you’ll find us curating our mousse collection, getting kitted out in Client Liaison Deluxe Line, and watching The Real Thing's music video on repeat. As for Morgan and Miller, you can find them misting on a stage near you.
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