INTERVIEW: Great Good Fine Ok keep branching out

GGFO Take 5
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Change happens literally all the time. Every second of every day, something is changing. The weather changes as the sun moves across the sky. Opinions change based on new information. And most importantly, people change. The experiences we’ve gone through, even those happening day-to-day, shape who we are going forward. Over time, we can change quite a bit. When that happens with artists, it also changes their art. Whether through the subtleties of tiny changes or through concentrated effort, it’s rare for an artist and their art to stay completely the same. Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman of Great Good Fine Ok know a little bit about this. Over four EPs–including the freshly released GGFOUR EP out today–and numerous singles, the New York duo have constantly innovated with their music. With a tour supporting the EP ongoing and a clear vision of how they want to keep evolving, Great Good Fine Ok are not afraid of change.

When I talk to Sandler in early June, the primary thing changing for Great Good Fine Ok is the scenery as they travel past the mountains of Wyoming on the way to their Seattle tour date. While most of the EP was released as singles before this week, there’s still a thrilling sense of newness to the project dropping. “We’re excited to package it all up and finally look to start the next thing,” he says, already looking ahead.

For GGFO, this release pattern is not outside the norm. Since the first EP Body Diamond back in 2014, the duo have cranked out singles and EPs at a staggering rate. Sandler explains that this partially has to do with how the music industry is built around streaming in recent years, saying “singles are just better digestible for people, and with Spotify culture each song has a better chance to get some legs and really do something if you don’t release a bunch of songs all at once.” At the same time, he also says they enjoy the rapid release pace for their own enjoyment, never having to wait to gift fans with new music (although a future full-length album is not something they’ve ruled out pursuing).

When it comes to the new sounds on GGFOUR EP, which features more live instrumentation like guitars and horns, it came from a very natural space for GGFO. Sandler says himself and Moellman are fans of a variety of musical genres and styles, and wanted to incorporate more of those loves into the music. “It was just a matter of time before we brought that kinda stuff into our recordings,” he says, and adds that it’s a direction they’re looking to explore more of in the future. In all cases, the pair let the process of songwriting shape most of their music. “We don’t really ever go in with a clear idea of how we want the song to start,” he says. “Either Luke will come up with a piece of music that I’ll write on top of which oftentimes evolves and changes a lot before the end product, or I’ll come up with lyrics or a melody, and either way we’re never exactly sure how it’s going to turn out.”

The same care and dedication goes into everything around GGFO, from the music videos to the artwork on the singles and EPs. “We always kinda felt like space was a cool visual representation of the music we’re making,” Sandler says of the futuristic art style they employ on their music. Moellman himself makes the artwork, and Sandler says they see it as a cool way for fans to see how the band visualizes their own work. Because of this hands on nature, Sandler says “you know that it’s exactly what we are feeling” when you listen to the music.

Every single day we change a little bit. Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman are no different, and the result is that Great Good Fine Ok never stop evolving. With GGFOUR EP, they’ve moved towards more live instrumentation and demonstrated there’s no genre or sound they’re afraid to explore. Who knows what they’ll sound like tomorrow? No matter what they sound like, it’s a safe bet it’ll be exciting.