We caught up with Greta Kline, the mind behind Frankie Cosmos—a simple yet strikingly honest project steeped in NYC’s underground. The songwriter shines some light on her process, discusses NYC counter-culture, and shares why her Gigawatts Fest set is going to be particularly weird.
Frankie Cosmos Interview
Frankie Cosmos is (as per the title) a musical universe, chronicled in the digital vacuum of a Bandcamp page. The page—lo-fi Microsoft Paint images and all—could pass for any other in the vast expanse of personal blogs and web portals, yet behind this familiar veil lies the innermost thoughts and feelings of an artist coming of age.
Kline is joined on her project by band members Aaron Maine, David Maine, and Gabrielle Smith. Behind the Frankie Cosmos persona lies a 20 year old NYU student, raised by the grid of New York; now, she weaves through the tangled city blocks, gigging and transforming her muse into two minute snippets of life.
Rukkus: How would you describe Frankie Cosmos to someone who’s never heard the project?
Greta Kline: Most of the recordings are acoustic guitar and singing. The studio album and the live show is a rock band, with guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and vocals. The songs don’t usually follow a “normal” structure.
The underground DIY scene in Brooklyn and NYC is obviously something you’ve been enveloped in for a while; for many, it’s a welcome escape from overproduced pop culture. In your mind, is this movement a rising counter-culture or something more ephemeral?
I don’t really know if this band is part of a “scene”… we don’t play with the same bands all the time or anything like that… But we definitely frequent certain DIY venues in New York, which I think is definitely a rising counter-culture more than a fleeting thing. I’ve been going to all-ages NYC shows since I was 14, and I think that’s a really strong amazing part of living here.
Describe your songwriting process: how long is the journey from words on a page to recording, and eventually, releasing?
It really depends… Sometimes the melody and lyrics come at the same time, sometimes there is a process in putting them together from different saved up ideas. I used to release stuff constantly, like every time I had 10 songs I would just put them online. But a real release (like our record Zentropy) takes a while..it took over a year from the time the songs were written to the release.
Most of your songs are particularly short—sketches, even. How does that transfer to a live setting? Is it challenging to capture the same immediacy?
I love playing the songs live. It’s fun and weird to catch people off guard with the length of the songs or the difference between the recordings and the performance. Anything that’s a “sketch” (like earlier bandcamp stuff) was either scratched or eventually turned into a song (even if its a short one)… we don’t play any “sketches” live really. But I like to play with plowing through a set or taking time to start the next song. It depends on the show!
Frankie Cosmos Plays the Gigawatts Festival in Brooklyn on 7/18
You’re playing Gigawatts Festival next week, what can we expect from your set?
It’s going to be a particularly weird one… we are missing a member this month (Gabby, who sings harmonies and plays keyboard, is on tour playing in Told Slant), so we are going to switch the set up and play more songs that don’t focus as much on her parts. It’s going to be a pretty different bunch of songs than usual!
Are there any particular bands you are stoked to see at Gigawatts?
Lots of them… Really excited for Fiasco, I haven’t seem them play in a few years! There’s a ton of amazing bands playing though.
Rapid Fire Round:
Favorite NYC venue?: A tie between Baby’s All Right and Shea Stadium!
Best late night food spot?: The Famous Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger
Best live performance you’ve seen?: Joanna Newsom
Favorite thing about NYC?: My family
Least favorite thing about NYC?: The MTA
Article by Nicolas White
Feature photo by Erin Fonseca