Q&A: Frankie Cosmos talks fave cereal, plays Swedish American Hall April 16
Photo: Samantha Casolari
Frankie Cosmos is the brainchild of Greta Kline, but lately it’s been more of a love child of The Epoch. The Epoch is an art/music/film community based out of New York that has helped graced our ears with music from Eskimeaux, Florist, Told Slant, and also Frankie Cosmos.
For me, it all started it all started during my last year at art school, when I heard “Art School” by Frankie Cosmos for the first time. I went on to listen to that song on repeat for 34 hours or so; I can’t really remember. All I know is that because of that one song, I delved into every Greta Kline and The Epoch had touched. I had found a group of musicians that made me revisit that pre-teen dream of moving to New York City. I’ve never even been to New York City, but that dream was only revived because of them. Now when I finally some day visit, I will go to Silent Barn and stand alone in a corner smiling like a freaking cheeseball.
Frankie Cosmos is a kind of timeless music, doing everything that Mainstream Pop does but for those who sometimes have a harder time fitting into that world. The music is narrative, catchy, sweet, emotional, and usually short. Greta Kline started making music for herself — when she found out that it was easy as having a computer, then she couldn’t stop. Now she has over 30 releases on Bandcamp.
Now, the second studio album, Next Thing, is out to the world. I’ve been listening to it for three days now, and there’s something that would seem innocent about it…but the album tackles depression, neglect, crushes, not feeling like enough, and it’s all done in such a beautiful way. Greta has perfected her own little musical narrative, even diving back into older songs.
It makes sense that Frankie Cosmos is being called “the next big thing” and “the future of indie.” It’s also no shock that the show at Swedish American Hall on April 16 is already sold out. I got the opportunity to lay in my bed in velvet PJs and talk to Greta on the phone. We both were a little awkward, since we both come from the generation that would rather text than speak on the phone, but because we were on that same page, the conversation was easier than I’d ever hoped.
The Bay Bridged: I’ve noticed that a lot of people pigeonhole your and other female musicians’ music into bedroom pop or bubble-gum pop. If you could create your own genre for your music, what would it be called?
Greta Kline: Man, that’s hard. I just don’t really understand how genres work, so I feel like that would be really hard. But I always just tell people that it’s a rock and roll band, I think it makes the most sense. When I first started the band’s Facebook I called us a Doggy Style band.
TBB: You’re such a prolific musician, a lot of the time when people I know are getting into your music they to tend to ask me where they should start. Do you have a specific album or song you’d want people to get into first?
GK: Um, man, I don’t know. I guess I would say to start with Much Ado About Fucking because I think that’s where it really started to get good for me. That’s where I started to like the music I was making, so I am going to say that.
TBB: “On the Lips,” “Sleep Song,” are both previously released songs via Bandcamp and I even noticed “Too Dark,” “Embody,” are also tracks on Next Thing (which will be out by the time this interview is published). They are all a few of my favorites, but it’s really interesting to listen to them side by side. What made you want to revisit those songs?
GK: For me it was just, like, those songs we have been playing live for a really long time and we were really proud of the arrangements and just wanted to capture them in time as we’ve been playing them. Those were, like, the first few songs that we recorded; we were just like “gotta capture this lineup playing this song, this way.”
TBB: Your songs seem a lot more personal at times and then like a narrative fiction at other, is there is a usually a perspective you try to stick to or do you like blending it together?
GK: Yeah, I like to try all different stuff so yeah definitely blending it together. I like writing from the perspective of like…not even human sometimes, like an object or something. I think it’s a really fun exercise, so yeah, I just like to try a lot of different stuff.
TBB: Would you define yourself as a fiction writer?
GK: Yeah, totally.
TBB: Because you and your whole collective of what I like to call “Super Musicians” are all creating music that seems timeless, almost like a Belle and Sebastian album where everything is so connected to a certain narrative. I think this was supposed to make this a question but at some point it stopped.
GK: No, you got it, you’re completely right!
TBB: You started making music just to make music. Just for yourself and had no clue that anyone would ever listen to it, but lately there’s been a lot of conversation about how bands like Frankie Cosmos, Eskimeaux, Waxahatchee are the future of indie. Is it becoming harder to make music or art just for yourself or do you have your own secret projects that are still only for yourself?
GK: Um, I don’t think it’s become harder yet, but I am really trying to make sure it doesn’t. I’m making a very concentrated effort to keep it for myself and to not let the fact that people are listening affect the process at all. It’s definitely a weird thing to fight against but it’s also really great that people are listening because it means we get to keep doing it. But yeah I still have some stuff that is just for myself, def other kinds of art.
TBB: What’s your favorite cereal and if you could make one called “Frankie Cosmos” what kind would it be?
GK: THAT’S SUCH A GOOD QUESTION. I would say Count Chocula but somehow with Frankie Cosmos involved. Count Chocula, I miss it. I haven’t had it in many years and it was my favorite cereal, so I’d want to bring it back.