With more than 40 albums to her name, Frankie Cosmos — the recording alias of Greta Kline — hardly lacks ambition. Nor does she want for imagination: Her music chronicles the universe of Frankie Cosmos, her love for Ronald Mystery (a pseudonym for drummer Aaron Maine), and the trials and tribulations of being a girl. The universe Cosmos has created, like most good art, teeters between fact and fiction. There are even a few meta-moments, with songs that reference Cosmos’ other songs, as well as Maine’s other band, Porches.
Kline — whose parents are the actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates — spikes her pop with mild dash of self-deprecation, and her voice is quiet but strong. Above all else, her songs are almost painfully relatable, recounting first loves, the loss of a best friend, or feeling awkward at parties.
On alter egos:
“Vitti C” is this alter ego that I created when I was like 15. She was my crazy, wild, free alter ego. I created an email address under that name so I could send my music to people — Vitti was my fake manager/producer character. Vitti also has a boyfriend named Jom. They’re a perfect couple. I definitely like having a cast of characters, and the other art that I do — video, comics, poetry — it’s all part of the Frankie character and supports that universe.
On having a musical diary:
I think it’s interesting that no matter how many characters I throw [into a song], if people know anything about my personal life, they’re going to make assumptions. “Ronnie” was a nickname [I had for] my boyfriend, and now everyone calls him that. The love that was in that name is kind of not personal anymore. I don’t regret [the song], but I definitely think it’s changed the meaning. “Frank” was a pet name too — Aaron was calling me Frankie as a fun dating thing, so now when I have total strangers being like “Frankie! Hey! Have a good show tonight!” it changes the meaning of that name. I think [ultimately] by choosing to make it public, it feels less revealing. It’s not like someone has hacked into my journal, I’m putting it there because it’s meaningful for me to do that. It’s nice to have people think that they don’t know Greta, but they do know Frankie.
On the fact that she occasionally cries while watching other female-fronted bands play:
That happens when I’m listening to my friends who happen to be female musicians — Whatever Dad, Baby Mollusk, Cave Cricket, Palehound, Eskimeaux — I love and look up to them, because they are writing about experiences that are often really relatable. Watching them perform — it’s not just what the songs are about, but feeling all of the overwhelming bravery it takes to be performing as a girl. You have to work five times as hard if you’re a girl who is a musician, because if you don’t prove yourself — or even if you do prove yourself, even if you think you’ve played an amazing show — someone will come up to you and be like, “Wow! You’re so cute!” It’s totally degrading.
I feel so conflicted about being labeled as a “female musician.” I’m totally honored to be lumped with other female musicians that I look up to, but I don’t think that’s a “kind of musician.” I don’t think that where you’re from, or how old you are, what gender you are or how you look should be the way that your music is described. It’s just not relevant. Because what it comes down to is: You’re a person who is making art, and while that art is totally subject to criticism, the other stuff surrounding it shouldn’t be how you describe the music.
On why she refers to her style of music as “doggy-style.”
Dogs are pure love and happiness. They are all really special and different. I’m pretty anti-social [laughs], and I can understand humans more easily through the “dog lens.” I also just really love dogs. The stuff that we do to interact with animals seems really simple on the surface, but there are so many different psychological things that go into it. The position that you’re in will trigger whether or not a dog is afraid of you, or if they feel aggressive toward you. Similarly, my songs seem really simple, but there’s a lot of complex work that goes into making them. Maybe that’s why we’re a doggy-style band?