We listen to a lot of music at the bakery. And I’m not exaggerating at all when I say a lot. Think about it, all day every day – music keeps us going. It would be weird and a little creepy if you walked into a bakery and there was no music playing, just imagine that. So it plays all day long, no matter what. Music can pump you up, empathize with your sadness, or just make you feel good. But it can also get old fast when you listen to the same music for hours a day, every single day. Plus, when I’m baking and working at home I’m also listening to music during that time as well. Sometimes, I’m listening to music for like twelve hours straight in a day!
A lot of the time I’m listening to old music, as I feel a lot of new music doesn’t have the soul that the old stuff does. Yeah, I was that weird kid growing up who didn’t listen to new pop music. I didn’t know any ’N Sync songs, Backstreet Boys, or even TLC. My friends asked me to be TLC for Halloween one year, and I said sure because they apparently desperately needed a third girl, and I’ve never cared for dressing up a whole lot. So I let them dress me, with a high ponytail, mid drift top, and black paint under my eye. I literally had no idea that three little white girls looked nothing like them! No wonder we got weird looks when people asked us who we were. So I finally was curious to listen to them after Halloween…and I did. They didn’t convert me to new music then, but I mean c’mon how can you not love Waterfalls, I saw why they were popular!
I grew up listening to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty to name a few – the classics and Motown when I was little. And then in high school I found classic rock and metal – The Misfits, Iron Maiden, Survivor, Def Leopard, AC/DC, Motley Crue… I remember the first time I heard Back in Black. We had stolen my friend’s older brothers AC/DC CD and we turned up the volume as loud as her boom box (yes, boom box, not stereo) would go, and we just rocked out for hours. Man if I had grown up in that era I would have probably been a groupie and done so many drugs. Kinda glad I didn’t have that temptation.
So, I am versed in older music, and I love it. And there’s lots to choose from to switch it up. But I’ve also heard it all. So, when I find new music that I really like, I get super excited about it! Especially because I’ve always been luke warm about pop music, but it has grown on me more and more as I’ve gotten older. And Mia and I are always sharing new songs and music because we listen to music all day! And it’s so fun having something new to jam out to.
Great Good Fine OK… it sounds like the progression of a bad day in the making. But, this band’s music is far from that! The name is kinda sarcastic I think. And Mia and I are both this way, so I think it resonated with us, as we both laughed while grinning like we had a secret when we first heard it. The first time we heard them come on the radio at the bakery, Mia and I were like replay…replay… replay. The first song we heard was Take It Or Leave It. And then I decided to make a station off the first song we heard. And what did Mia say? She said, That never works out, maybe they have like one good song! You know whenever you make a station, it doesn’t play the band it just plays crap. Yet, I did it anyways. And guess what, Mia was totally wrong! The station was good, and it played the band! Not only were they not a one hit wonder but their upbeat and catchy music kept us going all day long. Plus they have a cover of Phil Collins Easy Lover, once I heard that I knew they were good as gold!
Great Good Fine OK is one of my go to’s for new music and also to create stations off to find more new music that is good. If you haven’t listened to them yet, what are you waiting for? Put them on now! I am obsessed with So Far So Good right now. I tagged them on Instagram one day in a story post, as I was baking at home and jamming out. Their share led to me to talking to Jon Sandler on DM and it escalated from there. I got an interview, and we’re even hosting a giveaway on Instagram today! So here’s my interview with Jon Sandler, lead vocalist and songwriter.
Mimi: Great Good Fine Ok, how did your name come about? I absolutely love it.
Jon: Thank you! Great Good Fine Ok was a name I’d thought of years earlier. I have no clue what inspired it. I kept it in my mental bank of cool band names and when it was time to put a name to our project, I unveiled it to Luke. His response was “I don’t hate it.” So it stuck.
M: Haha, that’s amazing. How long have you been writing and performing music with Luke Moellman? How did you guys meet? And how’d you round out the band?
J: Luke and I met and became friends about 9 years ago when he was living around the corner from me in Brooklyn with my close friend and piano player. One night after not seeing each other for months we ran into each other on the street in Manhattan and decided to write a song together. He sent me a track that night and I was instantly inspired to write the lyrics and melody. GGFO and “You’re the One for Me” were born! We knew we wanted to put together an amazing band that could pull off these complicated songs live, so Luke invited friends he met at the University of Miami music school.
M: What song gave you your first big hit?
J: There are a few that come to mind. “You’re the One for Me” got a lot of attention. It was written about by hundreds of blogs and got us our first record deal. “Take It or Leave It” was our first song that really felt like a “hit,” streaming extremely well and noticeably a fan favorite at shows. “Find Yourself” was our most exciting release, with about 50 million streams to date on Spotify. Among other things, it was the #1 song on Philippine radio for a bit and the brilliant Hailey Williams (Paramore) talked about it on Instagram!
M: What’s your typical day (or week) like as a musician?
J: What I love about being a musician is that days are always different. Many are spent writing and recording, some are spent touring/performing, some making content like videos, and some just responding to emails and planning.
M: How often do you eat dessert (be real)?
J: To be honest, I have some sort of dessert every day, even if it’s just a little ice cream at night. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. I also LOVE dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.
M: What’s your favorite cake?
J: There’s this place in Manhattan that makes the most insane banana cake with this raspberry drizzle. I think that’s my favorite.
M: I’m sure making music is a lot like making cakes. Hear me out… you think about it, you write it all down, then you try it out, sometimes you need to tweak it, sometimes it’s perfect first try – and then you do it again, and again, and again, and again! Do you ever get sick of a song you wrote, like enough is enough?
J: I love that analogy. Some songs are quick and easy to write (those are usually the best) and some take literally years of chipping away at until we are 100% happy. We are extremely picky about what songs see the light of day, so if we’re getting sick of the song we’ll usually scrap it. I have yet to get tired of a song that we’ve released. Even a song like “Too Much To Handle” that we play every single show, feels a little different every time, and the audience’s excitement makes it feel fresh.
M: As an artist, I’m sure your creativity is constantly flowing. How do you keep track of it all? What’s your process?
J: For me, as the lyric / melody writer (Luke produces, mixes, engineers and does all the art for our songs), I am constantly making voice memos of ideas, and writing lyrics down everywhere. I’ll share them with Luke and we’ll move forward with the ones he connects with.
M: As a writer as well, my notes in my phone are my go to! If someone got hold of my phone and read my notes, they would be extremely confused! I have numbers in there for weights of recipes, things I’m thinking of for flavor combos, and small paragraphs I’m writing for a bigger picture project…
M: What is the weirdest venue you’ve performed at?
J: Oh man – tough question, because there have been a lot of weird ones! One time we played a show at an aquarium in Utah. I could see a huge shark tank from the stage. Colleges are usually a hoot, performing in huge echoey gymnasiums or excessively large fields. One time we performed in bathrobes on the roof of a boutique hotel in Cabo, Mexico.
M: Do you have any sustainability practices as a musician who travels often?
J: It can be difficult on tour, but we travel together in one tour van, limit the amount of plastic water bottles, and eat locally / organically etc. Being environmentally conscious is definitely important to us.
M: What song of yours should everyone be listening to right now?
J: Over the past 6 months we’ve released some of my absolutely favorite GGFO songs, from “Could Be Us” ft. Emily Burns, to “You Don’t Look at Me the Same” ft. Yoke Lore. But if I had to pick a jam for everyone to listen to immediately it would be “So Far So Good.” That one gets me going.
M: Yes, So Far So Good is my new fave! Guys, listen to it now. Do you have any upcoming shows?
J: It feels so good to finally say YES. Pencil in 2022!
Well, since Jon said his favorite cake is banana cake with raspberry drizzle… I had to try my hand at that. And that’s what I’ve made today to share. I also just really wanted to write Great Good Fine OK on a cake. Get the recipe below for this insanely delicious banana cake with raspberry filling and covered in vanilla buttercream frosting. It is raspberry season right now, so make sure to bake this baby soon!
Tips for Making the Best Banana Raspberry Cake
• Make sure your butter is soft. I really like to leave butter out overnight and let it soften at room temperature, as I feel it softens best naturally this way. You can microwave it, but no more than 10 seconds at a time per 1 stick, otherwise it will melt in little spots and we don’t want that.
• Use overly ripe bananas for this cake, just like you would for banana bread. It’s perfect to make when you have bananas that are past their prime for eating.
• Having room temperature eggs and cream is so helpful when making cakes. The reason for this is, the butter is already soft and at room temperature so when you add those cold ingredients into the warm butter, it can seize up. We worked hard to let the butter soften naturally and then also cream it with the sugar so there’s no chunks. If you add cold eggs and cream into it at this stage, it can undo all the work you just did and your cake batter can have butter chunks in it. Why are butter chunks bad in cake batter? They don’t allow the butter to distribute evenly, this can make for spots in the cake that are just pure butter, which actually can get hard once baked. It can also make for a drier cake as you don’t have the butter distributed properly so there is more flour in certain parts of the cake. So, leave your dairy out for a little bit until it comes to room temperature, and you’ll have smooth cake batter, and it will be so easy! Patience is a virtue here.
• If you don’t have decorating tips, just be sure to cut the piping bag small for the boarder that holds in the filling. It’s truly necessary to make this small frosting boarder when filling cakes with a fruit filling, as it holds the filling inside the cake. Otherwise, it will just squish out the sides of the layer cake. And your cake layers will start to fall apart, as the cake layers stick to that frosting boarder and that makes them stay upright. Otherwise, the cake would slide around on the fruit filling and it would be very difficult to frost it without the layers sliding around.
• You can make the raspberry compote the day before if you want to have it ready and not have to wait for it to cool. Just be sure to store it in the fridge.
• This cake also has to be stored in the fridge because of the raspberry filling. You can take it out an hour before serving, as cake always tastes better at room temperature! Just don’t leave it out.
Banana Raspberry Cake
Makes 3 layer 6-inch cake
1/2 cup (113 grams) organic salted butter, softened
170 grams (3/4 cup) organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
170 grams (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon
2 organic large eggs
2 organic very ripe bananas
1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream
6 ounces organic raspberries
57 grams (1/4 cup) organic cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup (226 grams) organic salted butter, softened
454 grams (3 cups plus 3 tablespoons) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
2 to 4 teaspoons organic raw activated charcoal
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
To make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, cane sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined and there are no butter chunks.
In a separate bowl, add the cake flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon and whisk together. Set aside.
Add the eggs, bananas, and cream to the butter mixture and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. It will look like cottage cheese. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the cake flour mixture and combine until you have a smooth batter with visible small banana chunks.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, they’ll weigh about 226 grams each.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the cake pans.
To make the filling: In a small saucepan, add the raspberries, cane sugar, and water. Put over medium/high heat and allow the sugar to melt. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer until the mixture has reduced by about half and is thick in consistency. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before assembling the cake.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined, then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. Add a quarter of the frosting into a piping bag with Ateco tip #803, or no tip if you cut the hole fairly small.
To assemble the cake: On a cake stand or cake spinner, place the first cake layer. Place a very small amount of vanilla frosting onto the layer and spread evenly, this should be a thin layer, not as much as a traditional layer cake.
Next, pipe a boarder around the edge of the cake layer. Fill the middle with half of the raspberry filling. Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat this process again, and then crumb coat the cake.
Frost the cake smooth or give it some texture, leaving a small amount of frosting for the writing. Add the activated charcoal to the remaining frosting to get a black color, more as needed to get a true black. Transfer to a piping bag with Ateco tip #4. Write whatever you want on the cake!
Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Gluten Free — Replace the cake flour with 170 grams (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) organic gluten free flour blend.
High Altitude — Bake at 350°F for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.