Great Time: interview with the genre-defying band

"I think people in the industry want artists to niche down or pick a lane because they think that’s the only way to monetary success."
21 October 2022
great time band photo

Great Time is a band that says that their aim is just that – to have a great time, experimenting with what they enjoy and what feels authentic to them. The concept is something that perhaps should be a given but isn’t necessarily always the case. Because of this strong driving philosophy behind what they do, the band has so far resisted pressure to conform and “pick a lane”, instead serving up a refreshing blend of sounds from a range of musical spheres as they prefer to do.

We caught up with the Philadelphia-based outfit recently for an interview where they discuss what drives their music and some of the challenges they’ve encountered in the music industry so far. They’ve just released the first single off of a new full-length album coming later this year. The album is recorded live and features all their latest material, so listeners will be able to get a taste of what it’s like to see the artist live and enjoy the transformation that their songs undergo on stage, versus the studio version.

The first single from this exciting project, 80z Slo Jam, is a memorable, hypnotic acoustic experiment in sound featuring electronic elements, echoing vocals, and plenty of IDGAF attitude.

“The original studio recording of this song uses a lot of industrial sounds and has a bit of a robotic feel which I love, but playing it live allows us to explore different timbres and soundscapes which bring out more of a raw and natural yet intense feeling. I want listeners to blast this new live version of ‘80z Slo Jam’ as a form of cathartic release from everyday vexations like your shitty day job or an annoying roommate. Time to let it all out!”

– Jill Ryan (Vocals, Sax & Flute)

Listen to 80z Slo Jam and read our Quickfire Questions interview with band member Jill below.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?

Jill: Great Time is a mix of electronic, RnB, rock, and indie (and probably a few other genres haha). If you like Little Dragon, Hiatus Kaiyote, Caroline Polachek, Moonchild, Caroline Rose, or Louis Cole, you might like us! We love a groove, an earworm guitar riff, lots of synths, and a catchy melody.

You’ve embraced a multi-genre-straddling musical direction despite advice from some industry peers to “pick a lane”. Why do you think this advice to niche down is so widespread in the industry and what effect do you think it has on creative output?

Jill: I think people in the industry want artists to niche down or pick a lane because they think that’s the only way to monetary success. But we believe in art that is authentic. If someone makes a song and it’s good and then they make another song in a completely different style and it’s also good… then I don’t see why that’s a bad thing. I personally enjoy when artists I love to experiment with sound and songwriting. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment either. We are ever-changing and the sounds and songs we create are too.

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?

Jill: Oof. This is a loaded question. We could talk about so many things and go in a few different directions but I guess something that comes to mind now is that I wish art and music were appreciated and supported more by our society as a whole. I wish more artists could make a living from their art. I remember watching an interview of Little Dragon (a Swedish band) and someone asked their drummer Erik if they’d ever relocate to somewhere in the US like NYC. He replied saying absolutely not because of how little support the government gives artists here in the states. He went on to talk about how Gothenburg has healthcare and more opportunities for affordable housing. Those two things alone would make things better for not only musicians but all Americans.

What is your process of coming up with a song like?

Jill: It varies! Sometimes Donnie or Zack will start a beat on the computer and we’ll all collaborate and fill in the gaps with synths, guitars, bass, vocals, percussion. Sometimes we jam on our instruments and a song will reveal itself that way. Other times one of us will have a strong melodic or rhythmic idea and we’ll all work on it together to flesh it out. A very collaborative process for sure.

What are some of your biggest musical influences? What about non-musical?

Jill: Some of our biggest collective musical influences are D’Angelo, Bilal, Little Dragon, Incubus, Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Jeff Buckley, Cannonball Adderly, Patrice Rushen, The Gap Band… The list truly goes on and on! As far as some non-musical influences… I love reading. Especially non-fiction, memoirs and essays. I’ve read some fantastic books this year and those authors have really inspired me; Michelle Zauner, Da’Shaun L. Harrison, Samantha Irby, Sasha La Pointe, Cathy Park Hong.

What are your favorite memories of live performances you’ve done so far?

Jill: So many good memories!! This live album that we’re releasing definitely is up there as a favorite. We had Corey Berhard (keys) and Mike Haldeman (guitar) joining us for every song which was such a treat. We also got to play a few songs with our pals Snacktime. Playing our music with a full horn section is SO FUN!

What can you tell us about your upcoming live shows?

Jill: We’ve got just two shows left this year. November 4th at the Ukie Club in Philadelphia with Sweet Pill and Gulfer. And November 5th at Brooklyn Bowl Philly opening up for the Spin Doctors!