Synth pop duo Great Good Fine OK popped into Wonderland to let us know if everything was as fine and dandy as their name suggests
Great Good Fine Ok are actually pretty fantastic. Over the last year the band, made up of pals Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman have been widely celebrated for their dancey and dreamlike brand of music. When the band made their debut at SXSW, people went crazy for them and it’s clear to see why, the Brooklyn duo have managed to create a sound which has struck a chord with listeners, getting them on their feet with lighter-than-air tunes.
Bubbly synth sounds play lovingly beside Sandler’s feelgood falsetto vocals, creating the kind of giddy noise you can escape into. Their first song ‘You’re The One For Me’ immediately grabbed people’s attention; it’s euphoric summer vibe went down a treat and got the number spot on Hype Machine twice in one month.
This was followed by their equally superb ‘Not Going Home’ and is joined by ‘Say It All’ and ‘By My side’, two other nuggets of wonderpop, on their EP Body Diamond.
Body Diamond (named after a dance move the guys do on stage) has been shining bright since its release last month. So far so good, great, fine, ok and all those other positive things.
Since forming the band a year ago, has a strong bromance formed between the two of you?
We had worked together and become friends a couple years before GGFO, but certainly since forming the band we have become closer. We are at the point now where we can read each other’s minds.
How would you describe your sound?
Synth Pop, Electro Pop… It’s Pop anyway you slice it!
You wrote your first song in a night, what is your usual music making process?
Jon: Luke creates the music, sends it to me, and I write the lyrics and the melody. Then usually we work together to shape both parts. It’s not always speedy, sometimes an idea takes a little longer to flesh out, but we love it when everything clicks quickly.
80s style synths play a prominent role within your music, is that an era you are inspired by and if so, why?
Luke: For me it’s more about being inspired by the synths themselves and the sounds they can make. It’s just a coincidence that the 80s were when synths really started to become prominent in pop music, so we always associate those sounds with that decade.
Jon: I am inspired by 80s synth and 80s music in general. Much of the production style and musicianship in that time lent itself perfectly to dancing and feeling life, which is something we take very seriously. It’s technically complicated music, but also so accessible to so many people. I love music that makes you feel something – which is something that MJ, Prince, Whitney etc. did very well.
Where did the idea for the name come from?
Jon: Great Good Fine Ok is a name that popped into my head years ago. I had been holding it and saving it for the right project. I don’t recall where it came from, but I knew immediately that it was meant to be paired with our music.
What is great good fine ok for you generally in your day to day life?
Jon: Well, that is a large spectrum. For me, a good dark chocolate bar and some sex would be in the “great” category, while getting a speeding ticket would just be “ok.”
You’re both Brooklyn based, has that had an influence on your music?
Brooklyn is a beautiful place that is conducive for making art. There is truly something about it. Also, the amazing community of musicians living there constantly inspire us to work hard.
What were you guys doing before Great Good Fine Ok?
Jon: We were both pursuing music. I had a solo project called Jon Sandler and The Fancy Band, and Luke was producing, mixing and playing with various bands.
Your videos are great, I particularly love the video for ‘You’re The One For Me’, do you guys like dressing up? What makes a good music video in your opinion?
Jon: Thank you! I like getting dressed up…I don’t think Luke loves it. I think a good music video is one that makes you say “wow, you don’t see that everyday” or “how did they do that?!” or “that’s the most beautiful/touching thing I’ve ever seen.” It’s all about being creative and original.
How would you describe your look and who or what influences your style?
Jon: Early on I realized that extravagant kimonos, blouses, and other fierce pieces were the perfect fit for the music. It feels right. Flowy silks and bright colors are to me the way our music looks. GGFO is a full sensory band. I want us to look, feel, smell, and move in perfect pairing with the music.
What can people expect when they come to see you play live?
Kimonos, keytar solos, dancing, lights and passion. Lots of passion.
A great song on the EP is ‘By My Side’ what is the song about?
It’s about one’s own personality and issues getting in the way of really getting to know someone else. It’s about choosing companionship over an impossible view of perfection, and realizing that you are happier when a special someone is by your side. It’s about getting over yourself and asking someone else to be your everything.
Your EP has been getting a lot of love since its release, was it a labour of love?
The songs on the EP all came very naturally and mean a lot to us. Those first four were born from inspiration and excitement and didn’t feel like a labour at all. They are pure love.
Photographer: Lauren Kellan
Words: Josh Willacy