[CCP Interview]: Great Good Fine OK on the Group’s Genesis Story & their Stylistic Influences

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It’s been a busy past year for Great Good Fine OK, who since their relatively recent inception have put out two EP’s — Body Diamond and 2M2H under major label Sony. The Brooklyn duo is comprised of vocalist Jon Sandler and musician Luke Moellman, who have a flair for falsetto and shiny ’80s-imbibed production, respectively. We caught up with the guys of GGFO before their explosive set at DC9 to discuss the genesis of their name, their live musical influences, Justin Bieber, collaborating with artists such as St. Lucia, and the ‘fanciest’ deli in Brooklyn.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with CCP! First things first, how did GGFO come together?

Jon: Luke was living around the corner from me in Brooklyn with a friend of mine and a former bandmate, so we had become friends. Then one day about two years ago we said ‘let’s collaborate on something’ and decided to write a song together. Luke sent me the music to our first track (“You’re The One For Me”) and I wrote the lyrics and melody that night. We were both pumped about it, sent it to some friends who were also pumped about it and that’s kinda how it started. We formed a team around that one song, continued writing more songs until eventually we put a band together.

Luke: Yeah I remember we were walking back home from where we recorded the vocals and were like, ‘This is cool, we should start a real band.’ And Jon relayed he’d been saving the perfect band name his whole life. He was like, ‘It’s so good you ready to hear it?’ And I was bracing myself for it to not be that good. He said “Great Good Fine OK” and I was like okay.

Jon: We marinated on it for two months and asked everyone we knew what we thought – I feel like it was a 50/50 split of people that loved it or hated it. So we were on the fence but we had been talking about it and calling the project that for so long that when it came time to actually start making a Facebook page and such we were just like, that’s it.

We dig it [so much so that we bought a t-shirt!]. Has the creative / songwriting process stayed the same since that initial song?

Luke: More or less. Sometimes it’s a really developed and thought out structure, other times it’s a couple of ideas strung together. I’ll send it to Jon, he’ll add some stuff and we’ll go back and forth.

Did either of you study music growing up?

Luke: I did, I went to music school at University of Miami.

Jon: I did not, but I’ve just been singing my whole life. I was in choir since as long as I can remember, performed in musicals in high school and was in a couple of bands in college.

Speaking of performing, you guys have talked about how you were inspired by iconic ‘80s pop stars like Prince and Michael Jackson. In what ways have those artists influenced you?

Luke: It’s a combination of things – the musical style, the charisma of the performers, the catchy melodies, the rhythmic delivery of Michael Jackson, the falsetto stuff that Prince does, and the production of Quincy Jones.

Jon: Yeah, the songwriting but also the performance element of those artists informs what I want the live show to be like.

And who are you listening to currently?

Luke: Russian artist Tesla Boy, our friends Joywave who just came out with their debut album, Alina Baraz, and Shura.

Jon: I’m also personally obsessed with Jack Ü – especially that Justin Bieber song [“Where Are Ü Now”]. I think I listened to that about 100 times this past week, I don’t know why it’s speaking to me. I’ve been writing a lot for EDM artists so my brain has been tapped into that world and I’ve been exploring and appreciating really good EDM tracks, so that’s where I stumbled upon Jack Ü. I also co-wrote and performed on a Chainsmokers song and they’re awesome — travelling all over the world and killing it right now. We love them.

We love The Chainsmokers collab (“Let You Go”). You guys also worked with with St. Lucia recently. How did those collaborations come about?

Luke: Yeah the guys from The Chainsmokers had reached out to us. For the St. Lucia track, we had this song (“Something To Believe In”) with Jon singing those parts that St. Lucia sings (the lower stuff), and as we were sitting around one day trying to finish up the EP we realized it sounded like Jon was trying to sing like Jean-Philip from St. Lucia. We had just run into him at a Christmas party and thought it’d be cool to try to get him, so we wrote him an email and he was so nice — he was right in the middle of working on their new album so we were like we’ll understand if you won’t be able to do it. He happened to be on vacation with his wife in Germany, but he had a mic with him so he did it in his spare time and sent it back to us. It was perfect.

What inspired the title track of the EP, “Too Much To Handle”?

Luke: That song started with the music I sent to Jon; I had just moved out of an apartment that I had been living in with an ex-girlfriend I’d just broken up with. So I was living in a new place and whatever energy was going on at that time just kinda came out through that song.

Jon: Weirdly, whatever Luke sends me, even if he doesn’t tell me what it’s about I seem to write something that goes along with it. To me that song is just about how tough life can be and how you always seem to get through it.

What’s next for Great Good Fine OK?

Jon: We’re writing and recording a lot, accumulating songs, trying to figure out how we want to release more stuff, and then touring in the fall. We just got off the tour with Magic Man and we’re chomping at the bit to get back at it.

Naturally. What’s your favorite spot to grab a bite or beverage in Brooklyn?

Jon: There’s this deli / bodega around the corner from me that I call “Fancy deli” that I get sandwiches from four or five times a week.

Luke: There’s a cool speakeasy bar on Vanderbilt. No signage of course.

Listen to Great Good Fine Ok’s single with The Chainsmokers “Let You Go” below and be sure to like them on Facebook to keep up with their latest happenings. Their live show (and Jon’s dance moves) are not to be missed.

As a bonus, check out this fantastic, synth-laden remix by house producer Vasta and grab a free download on his Soundcloud page.

RMX ROUNDUP: Years & Years + Gryffin / Major Lazer + Paige / Great Good Fine Ok + Shook

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Welcome to another Remix Roundup! Kicking off this edition is Gryffin‘s brand new edit of one of our favorite Years & Years‘ tracks, “King.” Speaking about the mix, the NY producer said “I’ve been a huge fan of Years & Years for quite some time so it was a huge honor when I was asked to remix their track. On this one I wanted to preserve the emotion and fun atmosphere of the original but give it a lively, euphoric vibe.” He nailed the euphoric vibes all right — stream this stunning rendition below.

Next, Major Lazer‘s “Get Free” gets a major facelift from Paige, another NY-based producer. While the original from Major Lazer (Diplo‘s side project) starring the Dirty Projectors‘ Amber Coffman on vocals has a more laidback vibe — Paige injects the mix with a deep house groove and big bass sound, making it a dance floor pleaser for sure. Pick this one up for free over on Paige’s Soundcloud page.

Finally, Shook shakes things up with an official new edit of Great Good Fine Ok‘s “Too Much To Handle.” The original from Brooklyn duo GGFO has already been mixed a number of times, but this sparkling and summery retake by the Dutch producer is by far our favorite with its refined production and playful synth lines. As an aside, GGFO will be playing at DC’s DC9 Nightclub this week on June 4, so be sure to check them out if you’re nearby!

Great Good Fine Ok – Too Much To Handle

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Gearing up to release their second EP next week, Great Good Fine Ok follows up their 2014 debut EP Body Diamond with 2M2H, due out March 16 via Sony Music. Avowedly influenced by heavy pop hitters like Prince and Michael Jackson, the Brooklyn duo Luke Moellman and Jon Sandler have certainly honed their pop sensibilities on the album with their shimmering, fizzling synths and lushly layered vocals. Listen to the EP’s lead track, “Too Much To Handle” below — okay? Great, good, fine, OK.