Originally published on Verge Campus
It’s been five years since Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman ran into each other on the streets of New York and decided to make a song together. Their paths had crossed many times since Moellman lived with Sandler’s friend and old band’s pianist, but after countless instance of saying they’d someday collaborate, the time seemed finally right.
They finished “You’re The One For Me” in one night and sent it around to friends. “We got such a positive reaction, we knew we had to keep going,” shared Sandler. He had been sitting on the moniker “Great Good Fine Ok” for future use, and since Moellman “didn’t hate it” they had settled on their new persona. They released the track on SoundCloud and racked up over 500,000 streams in no time. The track offered something many hadn’t heard before. It was a marriage of pop and electronic that created a sound rarely found exclusively in either genre. Moellman’s stand-out production paired with Sandler’s unique falsetto voice made it clear to the two that GGFO was onto something.
They released their first EP in 2014, and have been creating together ever since. “We didn’t even think this would become a band when we first wrote [‘You’re The One For Me’], we were just messing around,” revealed Sandler. Their initial success, though, catapulted them into a very different mindset. “It was definitely really surprising, but we knew it meant we had to maintain that momentum and keep doing this together,” he asserted.
Since their debut they’ve released two EPs, one album, and numerous singles with an EP currently in the works. Together, Sandler and Moellman’s talents combine to create something musically ingenious. “Both of us had been making music for awhile before we got together so we were really able to develop our own talents individually,” Sandler explained. “Because of that, when you put us together you’re going to get something you’ve never heard before.”
Sandler considers GGFO as falling under the “alt-pop” genre, but was too humble to admit their strides as innovators or genre-benders. So much of pop today can be repetitive, but GGFO is working to change that tune. The alternative category itself is kind of a mixed bag, so bringing those two worlds together usually means you’re going to get something unique for a dynamic audience. In simpler terms, GGFO’s music has something for every type of music fan. It’s a little bit of pop, a little bit of techno, very lyrically focused, and just a good vibe with every track. “I do hope we are doing something different,” said Sandler on their impact.
Their interesting sound didn’t just come from nowhere. Sandler shared his musical inspirations today and it’s a broad spectrum. From classic artists like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to synth-backed vocal groups like Betty Who and The 1975. A dream collaboration of Sandler’s is jazz artist Quincy Jones. “He’s the man,” Sandler said, with a laugh. “He knows music.”
When I spoke with Sandler on the phone, he was elated to share news of their upcoming EP due in 2019 which is expected to take their sound to a new level. “We tried a lot of things we hadn’t ever done before in our music,” he said. “There’s some piano stuff, acoustic, it’s definitely showing the extent of our talents and musical capabilities.” In the last five years, Sandler has watched him and Moellman grow together as musicians and sees this EP as a chance to share that growth with fans.
Fans have a lot to work with already though. So far, the duo has released three singles from the EP, “Easy,” “Touch,” and “Change,” and music videos for “Touch” and “Change.” The singles are a mix of up-tempo dance tracks and mellow synth-pop ballads, each encapsulating meaningful lyrics written by Sandler himself. “’Change’ is definitely my favorite of the three,” The song is about commitment in a relationship and hoping someone doesn’t change their mind about you along the way, it is certainly one of the most emotional of the three singles. Sandler’s pre-chorus and chorus lyrics are: “Moving on but the scars ain’t healing / Things went wrong and now we’re dealing / You told me that you’re tired of feeling / Is having a change of heart a real thing?” followed by “Are you gonna change your mind? / Are you gonna leave this incomplete? / Will you leave it all behind? / Find a way, don’t change on me.” The melancholy lyrics communicate heartache but Moellman’s production is uplifting with its light, synth beats that solidify the track in the alt-pop genre. “the lyrics mean a lot to me and it’s a song I really hope people can listen and feel the same way I feel,” said Sandler. It’s a sad, but hopeful song and already a standout from the EP. To me, it’s the most relatable of the tracks because it touches on the miscommunication aspect of relationships today that we’ve all sadly been through. It’s this paradoxical amalgam of an upbeat measure and sorrowful libretto that makes this track so great. Less paradoxical is “Touch,” a more traditional dance-pop track that is borderline EDM with its electric beat drops. My favorite track of theirs so far, it still remains unique with Sandler’s romantic lyrics and unparalleled falsetto vocals. “It’s a really fun song,” Sandler admitted.
According to Sandler, the visuals for the aforementioned tracks are of equal importance to the EP. The videos for “Change” and “Touch” respectively combine as a short film about two lovers who dream of going to space, and eventually reunite there. The videos are expertly shot with crisp cinematography that features vibrant pastel colors and abstract details. In “Change” Director Colin Michael Quinn uses continuity editing by combining closing detailed shots of household objects like light bulbs, eggs, a sink head, etc. and pairing them with similar shaped shots of space, planets, and rocket ships. Quinn takes a similar approach in “Touch” with close ups and detailed shots of plants, eyes, and glitter to draw comparisons to outer space. These are both coupled with bright pinks, oranges, yellows, teals, and greens that create a visually stunning approach to visualizing the protagonists dreams of the cosmos. I’ve never considered going to space more in my life. Sandler explained that the video uses outer space as a medium for the couple to find each other and show that “you can’t escape your destiny. The theme of space has been apparent in their other projects by way of their album art, but this time around it’s a more concrete concept. “We’ve been using these pictures of little guys on a planet with outer space around him for a really long time because space was something we were always drawn to as a visual space for our music to live. Now, if you look at the cover art for the new singles, the guys on the planets are me and Luke, so it’s like this new EP is more us and a more developed version of who we are.”
In a sense, GGFO has taken a more personal approach to their music now, using their art to communicate their own stories and feelings rather than conform to a generic sound. Sandler admitted that their primary goal is to “make music that puts into words those feelings we can’t usually describe.” But they aren’t leaving out the fans in that equation. “If I can perform ‘Change’ at a live show and make someone cry because they can relate to it, then I’ve succeeded” added Sandler. In 2019, that goal might become a reality for Sandler, with hopes to go back on the road and tour. “We’ve been working really hard to make music but we constantly get messages from fans asking us to do another tour and we really really want to” said Sandler. Without seeing them live, according to Sandler, you’re only getting half of their musical experience. “Our live show is something else. We use so many visual elements with lights and costumes, its really a show. We aren’t just playing music on stage.” Sandler even revealed that if you go to a GGFO show, you’re most likely going to see him dance his “ass off,” which I would definitely hate to miss.
2019 is looking like a good year for these guys, with an EP on the way and a prospective tour, there’s no reason to not keep them on your radar.