Photo of Great Good Fine Ok, courtesy artist
Great Good Fine Ok are here to put the soul back into synthpop. Multi-instrumentalist/producer Luke Moellman and singer-songwriter Jon Sandler, both originally in other bands, instantly bonded and hit upon such an irresistible pop formula that they quickly realized, “OK, this is forever,” and decided to concentrate on Great Good Fine OK full-time.
They chose their idiosyncratic name just as instinctively. “It’s just such a perfect range of emotions that people deal with every day, and I can see them in each of our songs,” says Sandler, speaking with Variance about their music. “The universe gave us this music, that name, and vice versa, and it just kind of works.”
Moellman, who studied jazz at university, is keen to stress that he isn’t a producer chasing current chart trends. GGFO’s anthemic blends of dreamy electro flutters, R&B beats and lush, expansive pop prove just that. “Pop music from the ‘70s to modern day is a pretty common thread for us,” he says. “But what sets us apart is that we’re real musicians first.”
Read our Q&A with the duo below.
Describe your latest single, “Take it or Leave It,” in three words.
GGFO: Bold, Glide, Bubbles.
You’ve done a remix of X Ambassadors’ “Renegades” — how did that come about and why that particular song?
GGFO: Following the initial huge success of 'Renegades' they reached out to us to see if we might want to do a remix. We are huge fans of X Ambassadors, so we were honored and excited to do it!
You’ve also collaborated with St. Lucia and The Chainsmokers. What was the collaboration process like? Do you go into sessions with a specific idea in mind, or do you wing it as you go?
GGFO: Each collaboration is a little different. With St. Lucia, we were almost finished with the song "Something To Believe In" and it was going to be the first track that featured me singing in full voice (not falsetto). At some point, late one night, we both had the idea that it would be amazing if Jean from St. Lucia sang the part instead, so we emailed him and the rest is history!
He was incredibly gracious and amazing to work with. He actually recorded the part while he was on vacation in Germany and sent it remotely!
The Chainsmokers reached out to us over a year ago to potentially co-write a song. I love them and was really feeling the track they sent, so the lyrics and melody came pretty organically. I was thrilled to hear that they liked it and were going to release it as a single. Performing it live with them is crazy fun!
You’ve been touring with Vacationer (by the way, loving their track “The Wild Life”). Have you learned any valuable advice or ideas just from watching them perform?
GGFO: Kenny [Vasoli] is such an amazing guy who has been touring and playing music for so long. Watching someone like that every night is definitely a treat. They are also extremely kind and generous people. Honestly, on a big tour, everyone is a great musician, but the bands who are kind are the most memorable to me.
You are also set to tour with Panama Wedding. Is there anything you personally admire about the band?
GGFO: We are big fans and good friends with Panama Wedding so we know them all pretty well.
You chose Chris Chawi to choreograph “Take it or Leave It,” turning the Santa Monica pier into a dance floor. You initially connected with him on Instagram. Why did you feel like he was the right choice for the song/video?
GGFO: We saw a dance Chris choreographed for our song "By My Side" and fell in love. We immediately knew that his style encompassed the feeling of "Take It or Leave It!" He organized that whole shoot and did such a great job!
Do you have a favorite venue to play so far?
GGFO: We've played so many amazing venues, so that's a hard question. We just played to a sold out Bowery Ballroom in NYC, which was pretty special. The Fillmore in San Fran, KOKO in London… both up there on the list.
Looking back, are there any regrets you have in your career? Anything you would have done differently?
GGFO: Since the very beginning, our focus is to write songs and other content that we're proud of, and to put on amazing shows. Being a musician is such a roller coaster that you just need to be true to yourself and strive for excellence and not look back.
In hindsight, there are always things that you might do differently, but we let our hearts lead and do the best we can at every step. We feel lucky and humbled to be where we are. So definitely no regrets!
What are you most excited for this coming year?
GGFO: We are excited to keep releasing new music! We are grateful to have the best fans in the world, who are constantly lifting us up and showing us love.
If you could have a conversation with anyone in the world (past or present) who would it be and why?
GGFO: I would love to chat with Jerry Garcia.
Anything else you’d like to add?
GGFO: Thank you so much! We love Variance Magazine! <3
Watch Great Good Fine Ok and Panama Wedding's video for their "Easy Lover" cover below and see their upcoming tour dates here.