When Greta Kline was 15 she was Ingrid Superstar. Another teen uploading songs to Bandcamp just for the kick of it. At 25 she’s Frankie Cosmos, a cult hero. Kline has made her name not just upon strengths as a songwriter but also as the frontwoman and manager of a hard-touring band. Time may have changed her but there’s still a common thread of unselfconscious humour and emotional honesty defining her work. Check out the interview below!
Alongside the latest iteration of her group, she’s released a third studio album. Vessel dropped earlier this month, debuting the Frankie Cosmos on hallowed indie label Sub Pop. Hitting with a little more bombast than previous efforts it’s touched with subtle complexity.
The past three years have been an intense period for Kline. She’s parted ways with Porches, Aaron Maine and juggled a hectic touring schedule. Her music reflects it.
Vessel is every bit as heart-laid-bare as Cosmos past. It speaks earnestly, rendering poetic sketches of anger, anxiety, euphoria and love. A glimpse into the tangled mindset of someone still figuring it all out.
When questioned as to whether putting such soul-baring lyrics before an ever-growing audience could be daunting Kline remains unperturbed. Played to ten or a hundred it doesn’t matter. If it’s out there, it’s out there.
Currently Greta’s fresh from a four-month break. She energised and even during this time away it seems that wheels have remained turning. From her mind springs words offering not only clues to what’s feeding this artist currently but where she might be headed next.
Rabbit Radio: There’s an emotional honesty to your lyrics which draws people not only to your music but Frankie Cosmos as a whole. Was it difficult pairing with Sub Pop and putting yourself out there before a much broader audience?
Greta Kline:For me I kind of just shut out the fact that anybody’s listening to it. So it doesn’t really matter who it is. Does that make sense?
RR: Of course!
GK:It’s just as scary to show it to one person as it is to show it to a hundred. Because for me I’ve already made it. I have this attitude about it.
It’s purely me I’m happy with what I make so I don’t really care. [Upbeat] If people don’t want to like it or if people like it that’s great. But I have to maintain my own relationship to it separately from that.
RR: So, it’s like you’ve already taken the leap?
RR: I’d like to talk about the new album Vessel. Relative to what’s come before it’s a very hard-rockin’ album…
RR: Was it a deliberate effort to deliver something with a little more bombast or does it have more to do with recording with a different version of the band?
GK: I feel like a big part of it is that my bandmates bring their own style. Predictably I think the drummer makes the songs a little rockier. There’s something about that vibe that definitely comes from the bandmates. But also, I think the songs. When I was writing them, I was a little bit more angsty. I don’t know! [laughs] I think that might be part of it. A combination of both yeah?
RR: It’s a record coming off the back on an intense period of touring with the band, something approaching two years. Has that influenced the way you’ve been thinking about your music?
FC: The craziest part of touring is playing the same songs every night. I have to really like them or at least find ways to keep connecting to them. To not just be robotically saying the words and playing the parts.
Thinking in that way it makes me want to make songs that are more meaningful to me. More like a puzzle that I’m constantly still thinking about. I want to keep finding new things about them. Just knowing what the experience of touring is like has inspired me to want to make sure that the songs are things that I’m going to continue to get something from. It’s almost like they’re more spontaneous.
RR: ‘Being Alive’ is a great example of something that rocks pretty hard on the new album. It’s also a re-recording of an older song. You have such an extensive web of projects going back to when you were 15. Do you ever think about rerecording more of your older material with a studio budget?
FC: I’m usually more excited by a newer song. I’m most excited about the newest things that I’m writing because that’s just what’s at the tip of my brain! But for the old ones, we decided to re-record it was really because of the audience.
There was a night where somebody walked in and requested ‘Being Alive’ from the audience. And my band was like, “What is that?” So I played it solo and then my bandmates were like, “That was a really good song! We should make a band version of that.”
We made a version which we were just happy to play live. The live version felt new and special. So then we wanted to make a recording of it.
It just kind of happened naturally. I think if anything I would rerelease demos in a physical form or something. But I don’t really have any plans to rerecord demos in a super concentrated way.
RR: There’s a lot of humour in your older work, especially the earliest stuff. Do you think humour tends to get ironed out jumping from bedroom recording to more formal releases? Do you find your own work to be getting a little more serious?
GK: Not at all. I mean I feel like I’m super – super– inspired by humour. I’m always trying to make a joke! Maybe that’s harder to get when an album is recorded nicely because it sounds more serious? But I mean, there’s totally jokes on Vessel!
But maybe the jokes are more self-aware. They’re at my own expense. Maybe people who are first-time listeners think that I’m just like that. [Laughs] I don’t know, I wonder! But I’m always trying to make it funny.
I was trying to explain this to someone recently. I was saying that when you’re struggling or when you’re in pain and you’re in public - at a party let’s say, you’ve just been broken up with and you’re at a party - you have to kind of laugh and make jokes. That’s how you present that information!I’m always walking that line with my music. I’m saying something sad and I’m saying it as a joke because that’s how I feel comfortable saying it.
RR: Something that comes with a career in music is a fear of bottoming out. It seems like something you’ve had anxieties about in past. How are you feeling at present?
GK: I have no idea! I’m trying to live in the present. I have no plans. I have no goals. I already feel like Frankie Cosmos is way bigger than should be.
I don’t know. It’s super weird. I’m someone who really just wants to write songs. I want to make music. That’s what I enjoy right now.
In two years I might just want to make paintings and not make music. But right now, I’m doing this thing just kind of following it. I’m trying not to think too much about any of the other stuff because it’s a really scary kind of job to have. It scares me that this is my job, it’s spooky! Right??
RR: You were working with one of your bandmembers on a project called Lexie before you put of Vessel. What’s something you feel you would like to do next or that you haven’t yet done? Do you have any crazy ideas?
GK: I have somany crazy ideas! We’ve basically just started touring again but before this record came out we had about four months of no touring. We were just sort of working on stuff leading up to the album release and we played a couple of shows.
We were coming off of a year and a half of touring with the last album. I had four months to do, not whatever I wanted, but I could just write songs. Relax.
I found myself doing a lot more visual art. Stuff that was just not music. I’m curious to see whether I ever act on any of those impulses and do some kind of art project that’s not music.
RR: Just to point it out for the readers, four months is a long period for you and the group not to be on the road.
FC: It’s pretty much the longest time that I’ve had off since we started touring. My longest break in five years. It wasn’t even long enough. I felt could have maybe used another couple of months. But it was definitely a long break, it was pretty crazy!
RR: You were here in Australia last year. Are there plans for coming back Down Under anytime soon?
GK: We don’t have any concrete plans but we all really loved playing in Australia. We want to come back soon. Hopefully within a year for something surrounding this record. We want to come out there because we love it!