Interviews

Frankie Cosmos on Dating Your Band Mate, Having Celebrity Parents, and Writing Hundreds of Songs

Catch Frankie Cosmos on tour next month.

by Reed Dunlea
26 April 2015, 4:00pm

Photo by Julia Lelby

Frankie Cosmos is the band and semi-persona of Greta Kline. The band was originally a highly prolific bedroom project; Kline describes her early forays into making music as “mostly just me messing around, having computer time when I was a kid.” Listening to the extremely crowded Frankie Cosmos Bandcamp page—full of hit online releases like “Collaborative Farting,” “Shit About Fuck” and “Why Am I Underwater?"—can show us a lot about modern methods of creating and releasing music. While in times past. the reclusive singer-songwriter may have holed themselves away for years making music, experiencing that process in a very solitary setting, there can now be an immediate audience and interaction for someone’s private moments with a guitar and a voice. Indeed, as she sings on “Learning (Round 2),” “being surrounded is like being alone.”

Frankie Cosmos has evolved into a four-piece, with Kline bringing her soft but cutting guitar pop gems to the world. They are following up their immediately catchy Zentropy on Double Double Whammy, with a forthcoming album on Bayonet Records, the new label from Katie Garcia of Secretly Group/Captured Tracks and Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils. You can see them on their upcoming tour (details below).

Noisey: Who is Frankie Cosmos?
Greta Kline:
Yeah, that’s me, and it’s also the name of the band. My stage name is Frankie Cosmos. If you see a show billed as Frankie Cosmos it could be me or a configuration of my band. It’s both.

Is Frankie Cosmos a persona?
It’s honestly not really a persona, it’s just a name. I think at some point it was. I have stage fright, so being a “different person” is easier to present, and duck in and out of the character. After getting off stage you can go back to being you, and escape from that. I can detach from my human experience while I’m on stage, which is fun. So that’s what Frankie Cosmos is, just to not be Greta Klein for a minute and having my personality weighing me down.

Do you feel like your personality weighs you down a lot?
I think that being a human can hinder the performance [laughs].

How many songs do you think you’ve recorded?
I thought it was funny when I was younger to pretend I had a band even though I didn’t, so I’d just make up band names and put them on Bandcamp. So I made a lot of songs that way but they weren’t really songs. I probably started actually writing songs in 2011, and since then probably a couple hundred real songs.

What has your writing process been like behind all of that, and has it changed?
Yeah, most of the time I was doing that was high school so it was a really nice hobby to have, like to procrastinate from homework. High school is a good time to make a band because there’s no time for anything other than school. So that was mostly just me messing around, having computer time when I was a kid. After that, I dunno, even in college that was my way of not doing homework. My process has just been that, writing a bunch of songs when I have time.

So this band is more or less the product of procrastination?
Kind of. My songwriting process is like that. But the band is hard work (laughs). After a certain point it was like “oh there’s four people involved, we have to practice, and now we have a booking agent so we need to tour.” Which is fun and unexpected and different. We’re just going with it. I’m writing fewer songs and touring more.

How did you get into going to shows?
I got into it because my brother is a freaky encyclopedic music brain. He took me to a rock show at the end of 8th grade. We just got into a couple bands, one of them being No One and the Somebodies. They played at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan when it was all ages. We’d just go on their Myspace, like “where are they playing?” I was 13 and I remember my parents starting to be okay with me taking the train by myself and I could be out later with my brother. There were some really cool bands my brother was friends with. Then there were so many cool bands from Westchester and Purchase.

Your lyrics touch on some dark ideas. What’s it like singing things in an upbeat and cute way but talking about dark shit?
I think the emotional part was writing them. Performing is more muscle memory at this point. There’s definitely times where I’d play and then I’d cry or try hard not to, because if you’re preforming something emotional and still living it, it’s still emotional. Writing about that stuff is important for me emotionally. It’s definitely weird having things that happened to you be heard by a stranger and then interpreted. Like someone was like “are you gonna play that song which is about Aaron?” And I was like “uh it’s not about that, and no!”

What’s it like having famous parents [Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline]? Does that affect your music?
It’s weird, I don’t know how to grasp their fame. My dad is still working at age 67. It’s funny, I think everyone just wants a fun fact about them because they just love famous people. Like people my age who know my dad, they’re like “oh my god your dad’s in Bob’s Burgers.” Like that to them is the cool thing, even though he’s been in a billion movies. My mom’s had a different career for the last ten years, she owns a store in the Upper East Side that’s really great, and she loves it. So she’s like a retired celeb who’s definitely not in the spotlight, and neither is my dad. He just likes working, which makes them relatable to me. They both worked as artists when they were younger. It’s funny to look at my mom because she was so hot when she was my age and was this icon. I mean she’s still hot, but it’s interesting. They don’t butt into my business and are never like “hey do this thing with our famous musician friend.” Like that’d be shitty if that’s how I tried to make it as a musician, using their connections. But they definitely show my music to their friends. Like I’m definitely more star-struck by my parents’ friends than them. I don’t think you ever stop getting star-struck by people.

Yeah, even with small musician people it’s kind of amazing how star-struck you can get.
Yeah, I’m star-struck by Aaron a lot of the time, I was a huge fan of his band Space Ghost Cowboys when I was in high school. It’s crazy to think, like, I’m dating that guy now.

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

What’s it like playing in two bands with someone you’re dating [they both play in Frankie Cosmos and Porches]?
It’s crazy. Hanging out with my boyfriend also counts as having time for band relations. Being in two bands is insane, it’s really hard. It quickly takes over your life. It means we have a lot of time to spend together. But it’s not the most fun dating time always, like, “oh we’re running on a train carrying equipment.” And it sucks. It’s also nice because we live together so either way we get to hang out. But because we’re in two bands, most of our time is just watching TV. I feel like that’s a very tired adult thing, like when you’re young with a boyfriend you normally do all these crazy things. But I love it. It makes touring so much easier. You miss home so much and you don’t get to be around your loved ones, but we do. Every night we get in the same sleeping bag and are a little more comfortable than everyone. And I just love collaborating with him.

He’s kind of like a DIY sex icon.
Ugh, I hate that. I hate that everyone wants to fuck my boyfriend. It’s so creepy. But then I was that way before I dated him. The screaming is hilarious. I’m still getting used to that.

Catch Frankie Cosmos on tour:

Fri-Apr-24 WALTHAM, MA @ Brandeis, University - Chums Coffeehouse

Wed-May-27 PHILADELPHIA, PA @ PhilaMoCA (WITH PORCHES!)

Thu-May-28 CLEVELAND, OH @ Mahall's (WITH PORCHES!)

Sat-May-30 CHICAGO, IL @ Beat Kitchen

Sun-May-31 MADISON, WI @ The Frequency (WITH PORCHES!)

Mon-Jun-01 FORT WAYNE, IN @ The Tiger Room at CS3 (WITH PORCHES!)

Tue-Jun-02 DETROIT, MI @ PJ's Lager House (WITH PORCHES!)

Wed-Jun-03 TORONTO, ON @ Smiling Buddha (WITH PORCHES!)

Thu-Jun-04 MONTREAL, QC @ La Vitrola (WITH PORCHES!)

Fri-Jun-05 WINOOSKI, VT @ Monkey House (WITH PORCHES!)

Sat-Jun-06 BOSTON, MA @ Cambridge Elks Lodge (WITH PORCHES!)