Starting off as the bedroom pop outlet for Greta Kline, Frankie Cosmos has grown into a four-piece and become one of New York’s latest buzz bands. CHRIS HAVERCROFT spoke to Kline about her prolific output and her famous roots. Frankie Cosmos will perform alongside Margaret Glaspy at the Chevron Festival Gardens on Thursday March 2.
Taking on the stage name Frankie Cosmos is inspired by Frank O’Hara’s poetry, the DIY ethics of K Records and the early-2000s New York City’s anti-folk scene. As the daughter of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, it is a wonder that she turned her hand to music instead of the finding herself on the cinema screen.
“I’ve never really been into acting and I’m certainly not talented at it,” says a matter of fact Kline. “My whole family was in our friend’s movie (The Anniversary Party) when I was about three, but I wouldn’t really count it as something that I’ll be pursuing in the future. I view that time in the film in the same way I view when I would go and visit my mum after school and work at her store. The only two movies I was ever on the set of were indie movies, so I never got to experience the decadence of the film industry from close up.”
Kline took to recording music and putting it on Bandcamp with the same sort of feverish fanaticism that teenagers take to their diaries. She didn’t have any recording equipment so she started off playing with an electric guitar without an amp straight into her computer microphone. Having listened to a lot of lo-fi records, Kline wasn’t perturbed by the lack of studio quality and quickly realised you don’t need an expensive set up to make a song.
“I am always writing stuff and messing around,” she says. “At the time that I was using Bandcamp, I would put everything that I made on there. Now there is more of a narrowing down process. I am more discerning now. Since putting out albums, I have never felt the pressure from labels that I worked with. I do feel that if I am going to sell a physical product that people are going to invest their money and time into putting it out, then it should be the best thing that I can make. It is more about myself putting pressure on myself.”
As well as being the driving force behind Frankie Cosmos, Kline also used to play bass in Porches. With Frankie Cosmos having toured for eight months of the last year, it has not been possible for Kline to play in both bands any more. There just isn’t enough time. Kline does not miss the prospect of playing in two bands on the same evening, but appreciates that having a back up role in somebody else’s band is a good exercise for an artist and has ultimately helped Kline as a performer.
“It is harder work having more people in the band, but it is always more interesting when there are more opinions and more inclinations and more musicians in the mix,” she says. “I think it is more fun to have more musicians with you on stage. I like playing solo shows and I still do it once in a while, but I much prefer having the dynamic of having other people to bounce ideas off.”
The songs that Kline writes are direct and personal, with the singer exposing a great deal of herself through her art. The idea of playing as Frankie Cosmos instead of Great Kline provides her with a safety shield on stage to try and create a barrier so performing these songs does not feel not so personal (even though it is).
“When I am performing it certainly helps to get into a character on stage instead of feeling like I am trapped as Greta,” she says. “Performing for me has a lot of social pressures and I feel almost like more purely myself when I am on stage. It is not really a character, because to me I think of the band as Frankie Cosmos and I always try to introduce myself as Greta from Frankie Cosmos.”