Remember that one song "You're The One For Me" everyone couldn’t stop raving about last fall? A song that was like pure magic exploding from the synth pop clouds and that dominated the Hype charts - but no one could find out anything about the band? It is a narrative not uncommon in music lore today, with acts like the Neighbourhood, Basecamp, and LVLF all seeming to revel in being these great big bandits of mystery in their early days. Eventually though, the truth will come out. It always does.
Ones To Watch had the very special honor of being one of the first to interview Great Good Fine OK, perpetrators of the afore-mentioned hit, after their big reveal. Our excitement for the opportunity stemmed greatly from the fact that we'd been calling for months ever since "You're The One For Me" came out trying to figure out what the deal with this band was. Because you can't just make a track like that and stay in hiding forever. (We are all, after all, a society of curious cats prowling on social media).
We met up with the band at SXSW before the week began and this is what we found: they are two very nice guys, Luke and John (no relation, biblical or biological), with excellent table manners and who are pretty great with strangers to boot. After our interview, the guys obliged to a fun little shoot, in which they were really good-natured about doing things like "take off your jacket" and "lean to the side" for various takes. Then, we went outside where a curious young woman asked who they were and they very kindly explained they were a band from Brooklyn and handed her a sticker and told her to come see them. Pretty much sums it up.
Luke (left) and John of Great Good Fine Ok.
Read on for our interview below.
To be honest, I thought Great Good Fine Ok was a 38 year old man when I first caught wind of the project. What a pleasant surprise.
John: Yeah we got blogs saying the most far-off things about us. Our first photo came out last week.
How did this all begin?
John: Luke and I had worked together on a couple other projects in the past. He was living with a friend of mine. And we'd always said we should work together, we wanted to work on something. Then we ran into each other on the street after not seeing each other for a while, and kind of said, "Let's write a song together!" Luke had been working on a track and that night he sent it to me. I put the lyrics to it and the melody, and it all kind of happened organically and naturally. And that's how "You're The One For Me" started.
Do you remember where you ran into each other?
Luke: Yeah actually, it was the corner of Austin and Allen on the lower east side.
John: The craziest thing about that is that I had worked that night somewhere mid-town, and there was no reason for me to even be there. But I was just like I'll go walk around, see what I can get myself into. I was just walking down the street actually thinking to myself "I'll just walk to the subway and go home," and that's when I ran into Luke.
Well, the response to the single was certainly huge.
John: The cool thing about that is how we didn't have any expectations. We both just love music and were doing it for fun. We were inspired by the fact that people connected with it… and the fact that it got us here, talking to you, is crazy. We're just as proud of those song we haven’t released yet.
What are the big influences for Great Good Fine Ok?
John: For me at least, writing the melodies and kind of the sensibility that I look to for this stuff is Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston. But then bands we really respect who are doing the same kind of genre are bands like Chvrches, St. Lucia. We're just big fans of a lot of things out there.
Luke: It's crazy because with music now, I feel like you can kind of just do whatever you want if it's convincing. Cause I think that all our generation growing up… people didn't just listen to rap or country, we all kind of just listened to everything. I think that comes out in our music.
Sure, it's a melting pot of influences. Do you subscribe to a genre or not willing to classify?
John: Electro pop, R&B.
I could see you guys doing a Sam Cooke remix, or Otis.
John: We're game.
Do you have a tour in store, are you bottling up a new EP as we speak?
Luke: Yeah, we have a good 7 or 8 songs. So at some point we're gonna release those as an EP or album whatever makes sense.
John: As far as touring goes, we're kind of waiting to see what happens after we play SXSW, and what opportunities we have. We're certainly hoping to get on tour the next couple of months.
What's your biggest dream for GGFO?
Luke: I don't know, I really like the idea of going to Iceland.
They have a ton of those electronic festivals who'd love to have you I'm sure.
Luke: We'd love to go be holed up in a studio kind of in the middle of nowhere in Iceland, I think that'd be sweet.
John: As far as a bigger picture thing, I just want to get to a point where we can keep writing songs and not have to focus on anything else. And make our own decisions about what direction we want to go in, and be in a position where we have a lot of different options. Write, perform and tour with who we want. And do it because it makes us happy. Never feel pressured.
Who's your dream band to tour with?
John: In my mind there's two ways to go. It would be awesome to go on tour with someone like Lady Gaga. Playing arenas and poppin’ it up. I would love us to eventually, if we did that, have a really theatrical show. But I'm also really excited about the idea of going on tour with a band like Churches who we have a lot of respect for. MS MR, or Passion Pit. Bands we look up to in our genre.
As a new band starting out, do you have any fears?
We've surrounded ourselves with such great people, such a great band, such great management already that people really believe in our vision. And I know that's not the case a lot with bands who are having success. A lot of people are trying to mold them. I feel like we're very lucky that people aren't trying to mold us.
John: People kind of trust what we're doing. So that eliminates a lot of fear for me. Cause my fear would be that people try to mold us and then all of a sudden it's not what we're trying to do. But I really don't think that's going to happen. And so… I think we might be fearless. Would you say fearless?
John: I guess the reason why I'm not afraid of that is because the way I write is so personal and based on things that are happening in my life and experiences I'm going through. I'm always going to be going through new experiences; there's always going to be hardships, there's always going to be extreme joy. As long as those things keep happening to me, I'm going to keep writing - and they're not going to be the same forever. In five years, my life will be different than it is now, and I think that'll come across not only in my lyrics and melodies but also in Luke's music.
Luke: What if I just get really weird?
John: That'll be awesome.
Luke: What if you had to write lyrics to like, weird free jazz?
John: Then that's the direction we're gonna go.
You'll also have to learn how to scat.
John [performs a scat]: You know it's so early in our career and things are just so great that I think we're just excited to see what's next. Ready to take any obstacles that come by the…
what are they called…
John: Everybody's just been so nice and so supportive. We didn't even release our identities until last week, so for us, people were judging it 100% on the merit of the music.
Photos: Joy Shi
Great Good Fine Ok can be found this month playing with Tove Lo in Brooklyn. Learn more about the band here.