By Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Geoff.
Greta Kline of New York’s indie supergroup Frankie Cosmos goes by different names. For awhile, she was going by Ingrid Superstar which, to this day, is the name of her Bandcamp page. But it appears that the name was already taken, so her boyfriend and bandmate Aaron Maine (of Porches) started calling her Frankie Cosmos, after their fascination with Frank O’Hara and “the cosmos.”
She doesn’t even mind being called Frankie Cosmos so for those who think birth-given names are for squares, there’s your chance. The band is based upon a few things: mutual appreciation of all the members’ musical works and a prolific work ethic. (For a few years, Greta Kline was releasing music just about every month though she makes it clear that this was no gimmick.) BTR was able to speak with Kline as the band was traveling up to Syracuse and she unpacked those tenets in more acute detail.
The modern incarnation of Frankie Cosmos is an advanced version of Greta Kline’s “time as a musician,” as she’s been making solo music since she was 15 (relatively recently, she’s 19 now.) With the name change to the band’s current moniker, Kline noticed that the project “changed” along with the name when Maine came into the picture in November of 2011.
However, she feels that while the band is a “full-band thing,” she’s still writing the songs the same way. The band became more solidified as Kline became more comfortable with the “Bandcamp model” of releasing music, where you can make a record in your bedroom and release it the same day to your friends.
“The idea of releasing [music] came from learning what Bandcamp was. Before that, I think the reason I started thinking I could make music on my computer was because I heard music that was like that. I heard Eskimeaux and Kate Ferencz–girls who were just making stuff that sounded like it was at their house. I was like, ‘Oh, you’re allowed to do that?’” says Kline.
Kline has been fortunate enough to have Gabrielle Smith (of aforementioned inspiration to Kline, Eskimeaux) join the band but she says that it created an “emotional crisis” where she’s having a hero of sorts making music with her. It even reached a point where Kline said to Smith, “You can’t sing in this band because you’re better than me,” as she doesn’t want “people to hear her voice next to mine and be like, ‘Oh, why isn’t Gabbie the lead singer?’”
As if having one musical muse in the band wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, Kline has two to worry about. Besides being “involved” with Maine, she had been listening to his music for “so many years” before he joined Cosmos.
“I don’t want the influence to be so clear that I stole from him. I definitely have stolen from him so it’s funny [because] having him in my band, first of all, brings that to light but second of all, justifies it. It’s good and bad,” says Kline on fears that surface at band practice.
The nature of Kline’s writing is highly personal, as for a long time before Frankie Cosmos was really just her recording songs in her bedroom. She sees her music as “a journal” of sorts.
Initially, Kline already had the strength to be personal in songs because “no one was listening to it,” so she figured that she could use people’s real names. Eventually, Aaron Maine posted the album Kline wrote about him on his Facebook and all of a sudden, Greta Kline had a throng of new fans who trusted anything Maine was hyping. It’s easier for her to write songs about a specific person when that person is in her own band, because the information’s as accessible as the music, but writing as a single lady about crushes flying about her life is “a lot scarier and more brave.” She’s not about to give it all away though, as she tries not to be “totally transparent, I like being vague about some stuff.”
“I like the idea of people putting together the puzzle on their own if they want to and also if it’s vague, people can still relate to it. I don’t like to just be talking about MY problems that no one can relate to. Often, I’m not writing about myself, a lot of the times it’s not a journal,” says Kline.
With her propensity for releasing a vast number of singles and records, she’s really not doing it to “stay relevant” or be “ahead of the game.” She doesn’t expect people to listen to everything she’s released, and she even says, “I hope that they don’t listen to a lot of the early stuff.” With the good and the bad all on her Bandcamp page, Kline is “always making music, always putting stuff out, because why not?”
Though she recognizes that such a laissez faire approach to releasing music is certainly an option, she doesn’t want to be tied down or pigeon holed by the novelty of making “an album a month.” This is where releasing so much music gets tricky.
“I really don’t want that to be a gimmick. It’s obviously an important part of my music but a lot of times people will talk about my music and be like, ‘It’s so crazy because she has so much music.’ I feel like, ‘Well, that’s cool but I don’t want that to be my thing. I don’t want that to be the one thing people are saying about it. I’d rather them be like, ‘Well, who cares about that but she’s got this one album that I love so much.’ You don’t have to like all of it, I think it’s just I’m going to keep making all of it and hopefully some people will like some of it,” Kline says.
Greta Kline is changing the narrative of the way people consume her music as we speak, as she took a break from Bandcamp to really work on Zentropy, which the band is deeming their debut release. She says about her new approach, “I’m trying to make people wait and then they want to buy my record. Hopefully that’s a really big thing when it comes out.”
Kline’s figured out an instrumental rule of business in the new school of the music industry: keep the people guessing. While navigating the anxieties and fears she still has in the beginning stages of figuring out a life for her band, she’s at least got a record the people had to wait for.
To wait just one more day until the release, click here.
Check out Frankie Cosmos’ music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.