Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Frankie Cosmos is still writing in her teenage diary

A look into how Greta Kline, the voice of Frankie Cosmos, expresses herself through her poetry-based music
Photo courtesy of Frankie Cosmos’ website

In an interview with the New York Times in 2018, Greta Kline, known by her stage name Frankie Cosmos, said, “There’s something about music you listen to in high school. When you hear it, it takes you right back.” That sentiment stuck with me as I prepared my own questions for Kline, as her music had been such a huge part of my own high school soundtrack.

I remember sitting on the bus in the ninth grade, staring out the window and hearing Kline sing, “Can you feel me in the air?” At that time, all I felt in the air was a sense of boredom that I couldn’t find the words for at the time. Kline’s music perfectly encapsulated my longing for something bigger than the suburban neighborhoods I passed on dreary bus rides.

Kline has always had a passion, for music which started during her childhood when she took piano lessons. While many kids may find classical music boring, Kline described one of her earliest memories as “having [classical pieces] give me a strong feeling, almost like a story that is wordless, and just having this emotional reaction to pieces of melodies and written music.”

Today, Kline sees music not only as a story, but its own language. In a way, it’s her native language. “[Music] is the language that I most often think and dream in, and just the way that my thoughts come out is often in the form of music,” she said.

And that’s how Kline has been making music for over a decade. She released her first song on Bandcamp in 2009 under the name “ingrid superstar,” trying on a few different pseudonyms in her career’s early days. She landed on the name Frankie Cosmos when she decided to use it as a stage name for a performance with a friend, and it stuck. Today, many people think her real name is Frankie Cosmos and often greet her as Frankie, which Kline says feels like the “right character.”

In January 2021, Kline was surprised to kind that her song “Fool,” which she called a “sleeper song” had blown up on TikTok. Kline attributed the resurrection to the song’s feature in the Netflix series Hilda. Regardless of how and why the song became a hit, Kline was excited to see that adding “Fool” to her live performances got almost everyone in the crowd singing along.

The song’s success also introduced an entirely new generation of listeners to Frankie Cosmos. “It’s been interesting to me to see that young people still are listening to my music,” Kline said.

She reflects on her audience evolution, noting the shift from peers her age to a younger generation. She shares anecdotes of playing for college crowds, where she’s encountered fans introduced to her music by their parents.

Since she started releasing music, Kline has found herself better able to communicate with collaborators and overall feels more confident in her abilities as a writer and producer. Something that hasn’t changed, however, is the authenticity of her music. “It’s still very purely an expression of myself that maybe sometimes feels like it’s not even up to me,” Kline said. And even though Kline has not been a teenager in many years, she still describes her perspective as “youthful,” one of the reasons she appeals to such a large range of audiences.

One of the most striking things about Kline’s musical career is its longevity, which begs the question of how she has avoided burnout and overcome desires to quit.

“In like 2018 or 2019, I was really ready to throw in the towel and be done, and I was having a lot of bad days on tour,” Kline said. “I came very close to the first time in my life canceling a tour in the middle of it, just due to how I was feeling.”

In a strange way, Kline was grateful when she was given a break in 2020. Until this point, Kline describes her sense of time as completely governed by touring. Even during her breaks from tour, her mind wandered to everything she had to get done before she hit the road again, saying to herself “oh, well, the next tour is starting in two months or two weeks, so I have to do this stuff before then.”

In addition to restoring her love for touring, the pandemic also gave Kline the opportunity to work on her most recent album “Inner World Peace.” She also released a deluxe version of this album titled “Clean Weird Prone,” a clever anagram for the original album. “Clean Weird Prone” was Kline’s first-time adding demos on major streaming platforms like Spotify, and she was excited to share her writing process through these unfinished tracks.

“Inner World Peace” differs from Frankie Cosmo’s earlier bedroom pop music, drawing on “ambient psych influences” and even some progressive rock which is often shortened to prog, although Kline admitted she wasn’t entirely sure what prog even meant.

The album is more instrumentally complex than previous releases, thanks to “a lot of musical moments that [her] band really filled out with different ideas,” she said.

But the album maintains the Frankie Cosmos brand of poetry-turned-song. “The main thesis of Frankie Cosmos is like, I wrote a poem and I wanted to sing it,” Kline said.

Frankie Cosmos performed at the Drake on Friday, May 10 as part of a college town-based tour which kicked off in March.

Naomi Zwelling can be reached at [email protected]

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