"As a kid I was always drawn to art and music, so it developed naturally as a place to express myself."
Even without knowing, you've most likely experienced the product of Frankie Cosmos' musical impact. Based in New York, this indie pop group has almost reset the genre, as front woman Greta Kline fills the tracks with contagious melodies and lyrical innocence, enveloping each song with a childlike magic. After their debut, it was easy to hear influence from the group on up and coming indie artists' albums. What's most unconventionally special is the group's DIY attitude. Kline says that the musical process is almost always greatly collaborative between her and her bandmates, rarely tinted by the creative notion of others. It's important for them to be hands on and unapologetically so. We were fortunate enough to speak with Greta about staying creative in quarantine, visual inspiration, and doubt in the music industry as a woman fronting a successful indie group.
You started writing at a really young age. Was your choice to go into music almost instinctual or was it something that you had to come to terms with over time?
As a kid I was always drawn to art and music, so it developed naturally as a place to express myself. It still feels weird to call myself a professional musician, especially right now when… I’m kinda not haha. But I think just having music as something I can do (for my psyche) is an important thing for me.
What was the inspiration for your first song, “Hell in a Handbasket,” that you wrote when you were 10 years old?
Mostly I was just ripping off the Jeffrey Lewis song “Back When I Was 4." I liked the format of his song and wanted to try my own version of it where I made it about all the bad things I had done at the different ages.
What type of music was played around your house growing up?
Spice Girls and Britney Spears, (I’m a millennial, as vintage as that sounds) and my parents played me stuff like Indigo Girls, Carole King, James Taylor, and The Rolling Stones.
In what ways has your sound and your writing process evolved from your when you created your first album “Zentropy?”
I think I’ve gotten better at singing and playing guitar honestly haha. Most recently as a band we let loose a bit with “Close It Quietly.” It feels like the first album where we included sonic elements that we can’t fully recreate live as a four-piece.
Were you performing live before quarantine, and did you have to reschedule any shows?
We were touring up until mid-December, and in march we were about to go on a tour in Australia and New Zealand, and had to postpone those shows until who knows when.
How have you been staying creative in quarantine?
Most recently, collaging poems! It helps me when I’m not feeling super inspired internally.
As a female in the music industry, does it feel liberating that you’re the sole songwriter behind the majority of your music?
For a long time I was very intense about proving myself as the sole songwriter, because even up until a few years ago, there seemed to be an assumption that any woman in a music project was not the songwriter. Now I’m more willing to acknowledge that as a band we collaborate. For example, I do bring in finished compositions, but my bandmates might suggest a chord change or an instrumental break which can actually change the format of the song technically speaking. I always credit the whole band as producers now, because giving one person a “producer” credit has this image attached to it of like, a capital P “Producer” coming in and helping you “craft your sound” or even writing the songs with you...but whenever we record, we bring in fully arranged songs, we don’t have a music director or anything (i think that’s more of a “pop” thing). and we have a pretty full idea of what we want an album to sound like, we just don’t know exactly how to achieve everything in terms of gear (like what mics to use on the drums, or what guitar amps to use), which is mostly where the producer comes in for us. I think there’s just something really mystifying and old-fashioned about the roles and credits behind the scenes, and they get especially bothersome when you mix those assumptions with sexism, etc!
Have you ever faced doubt in the music industry as an empowered and self driven female creative? Do you have any particular experiences that stuck with you?
I think something most female/femme musicians experience is having male sound engineers talk in a condescending way to you. Even now, with eight years of show-playing experience under my belt, once in a while there will still be a disrespectful sound guy…I feel like as I’ve gotten older/gained experience I’ve gotten a lot better at sticking up for myself and feeling more confident in those scenarios.
In what ways have you been using your platform to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement?
I’m re-posting info/actions/resources every time I log on to social media (for me, Instagram is my platform), trying not to take up unnecessary space on the feed and just point people in the direction of information right now. I just put out a bunch of demos to raise money for Critical Resistance, which is an abolitionist organization, so hopefully my fans will check it out and learn more about that too.
Who are your greatest musical influences?
My bandmates! And Joanna Newsom.
How important are visuals for your music? Are they typically a more thought out and perfected element or do they come organically?
They come pretty organically…something usually just kind of pops into my mind’s eye. Then from there it’s often a collaboration with trusted close friends (and the occasional new friend/dog) to achieve the visual element (like album art or projections.) I can only think of one time (the “Apathy” music video) that we just let the director do their thing without any significant input from me or the band, because we just love Tom Scharpling’s videos and trusted him to make whatever he wanted.
How did you meet your bandmates?
I met Lauren (keyboard/second guitar/harmonies) when I was ten because she went to school with my older brother and they made music together. Within a few years I was convincing her to ditch my brother and hang out with me! I met Luke (drummer) because he was in a band called Krill, and we played a house show together and then I became obsessed with their band and tried to play with them as much as possible. We all met Alex (bassist) because he was in the band Warehouse, opening for us on tour in 2016.
Why do you think it’s greatly important to support drag queens, artists, and creatives, during this time of uncertainty?
I think this time is really scary for everyone, but there are people that it is significantly less scary for. Many artists and performers have fully lost their sources of income and have no idea when they will be able to work again, so if you are in a more stable position and can contribute/support, you should!