Brooklyn-based dance-orientated duo craft the type of uplifting electronic-tinged ‘80s-style pop that is set to take over the airwaves this autumn. On the scene since 2013, the duo gained recognition following the release of the debut EP Body Diamond and have gone from strength to strength ever since. Now with over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, this band is one to watch.
We spoke to Jon Sandler, one half of Great Good Fine Ok, about what made them decide to form the band, where they get inspiration from and their short film…
So, you formed in 2013, what made you decide to form ‘Great Good Fine Ok’?
Luke and I met and became friends about 6 years ago when he was living around the corner from me in Brooklyn with my close friend and piano player. About 4 years ago we ran into each other on the street after not seeing each other for months and decided to write a song together. That night ‘You’re the One for Me’ was created. We put a band together and started writing more songs, Great Good Fine Ok (GGFO) was born. There wasn’t really one moment when we decided to start a group – it all happened organically over the course of a few months.
And I’m interested in how you arrived at the name, can you tell me a bit about how it came about?
I came up with the name years before GGFO started and kept it in my mind as a “good band name”. No idea how I thought of it. When it came time for Luke and me to name this project, I suggested Great Good Fine Ok, and it stuck
You produce electronic-tinged, 80s-style pop tracks, where do you take inspiration from for your music?
Luke is the producer of the music and the sound architect of GGFO so you’d have to ask him how and why the music sounds the way it does.
For me as the lyric and melody writer, inspiration comes from everything in life. Love, time, death, friendship, change, joy/sorrow, my cat, a chair… to name a few. I just try to be as honest and genuine in the song writing as I can while still keeping it relatable.
And, when you’re not working on your own music, do you tend to listen to similar pop tracks or do you prefer to listen to stuff that is completely different?
I listen to everything – I really love listening to current pop, and music in GGFO’s world, but I prefer listening to classic songs of the past that have stood the test of time. Music by MJ, Elton John and Prince to name a few.
Your debut ‘You’re the One for Me’ went viral on SoundCloud! How was that?!
It was insanely exciting! Luke and I had both been pursuing music for our whole lives, writing and producing for many different projects of varying success levels, so when GGFO was really noticed, it wasn’t lost on us how crazy that was.
There were many years when I would have given anything for just 1 blog to say something nice about my song writing. Now, every blog I had ever heard of were praising GGFO. It was surreal and fantastic. We were (and still are) so grateful.
You’ve just released ‘Easy’, can you tell me a bit about the track?
‘Easy’ started off as a song about a failing relationship. The long late-night talks, the misunderstandings – you both feel the impending doom, but neither want to give up. However, in the time between starting and finishing the song, it evolved into something deeper.
There are a lot of factors in the world right now that seem to be making life harder than usual for everyone. We all know what those are. On top of that, I’ve recently experienced a lot of personal pain, sickness and death. “Nobody said life was easy” has become a comforting expression. But, we’re all in this together, and as the song’s bridge declares “we’ll be just fine!”
And how does the music making process happen for you guys, is it a collaborative effort or does it vary per song?
Luke creates the music, sends it to me and I write the lyrics and the melodies. After that initial step, we go back and forth and polish up everything together, but it works for us to separately do the things that we are best at, and that we love the most.
You’ll be dropping your latest EP soon; can you give us an exclusive into what it’s about?
The new EP is an extremely wide spectrum of what GGFO is capable of musically, and the subject matter lyrically is eclectic as well. ‘Change’, ‘Touch’ and ‘Easy’ will be on it, and we’re super excited to share the rest!
You released two videos accompanying ‘Change’ and ‘Touch’, which fit together as a short film. Can you tell me a bit about these visuals and the decision behind making two videos that fit together?
It’s pretty crazy. We got together with creative director/animator Sam Mason and came up with this super ambitious concept involving space travel and aliens. Simultaneously, an amazing production company in Atlanta called RiTE Media Group, who are fans of the band, expressed interest in working with us on something. We decided to join forces, and everything fell into place.
It was a 5-day shoot with a huge crew and several different locations. A huge undertaking and complete labour of love for everyone involved. ‘Change’ is about falling in love with the way someone is, at a specific moment in time, hoping that they won’t ever change. In the video you see two people who have been in love since they were kids, but it was the boy’s destiny to travel to space. To me it’s the ultimate change for your partner to literally travel to outer space and through wormholes with no guarantee of a safe return. But how do we deal with this kind of change and how does it resolve?
‘Touch’ is about that phase in a relationship when all you want to do is touch the other person. You can’t get enough. But at the same time, when you are apart, you find yourself obsessing and thinking way too much. You are both enamoured and tortured. We quickly realised that these two stories fit perfectly together visually.
And finally, what can we expect from you guys over the next year?
More music and more touring!