“Can I record this, too?” asks Greta Kline, breaking into laughter as she places her iPhone on the table. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter behind the band Frankie Cosmos wants to hear how she answers questions during interviews.
“I’m really babbling, strange and don’t know what I’m saying,” says the native New Yorker, who is arguably the biggest little voice among a cohort of young musicians running the do-it-yourself scene, forgoing traditional avenues of production.
Kline has been prolific since she started writing music when she was 15. She now boasts a catalogue overflowing with more than 200 tracks. More recently, Kline has added two Frankie Cosmos studio albums that have picked up some serious recognition.
“Our first album (“Zentropy”) which I made for fun, was named best pop album of 2014 in Vulture,” says Kline, still amazed. “I was like, ‘Is this a pop album?’”
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The band’s accolades don’t end there. Aside from the New York magazine nod, Pitchfork crowned their latest offering, “Next Thing” from 2016, Best New Music.
“I don’t know what that even means. My stupid album?” says a self-conscious Kline. “I go through phases sometimes: ‘I’m a genius, they get me,’ and sometimes I’m like; ‘Why does anyone want to hear me?’ ”
Frankie Cosmos headlined a sold-out hometown show at The Bowery Ballroom Saturday night that attracted a crowd filled with close friends and family. The endearing singer peppered the 26-track setlist with bashful banter and silly smiles.
Kline's accesibility is evident in her transparent lyrics, a quality that comes through in her interactions with fans — she even worked the merch table ahead of her set, chatting with concertgoers.
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At times, the singer’s vocals on songs like “Fool” border on so light they risk evaporating completely, but they’re bolstered by the crowd hanging onto each airy lyric. Her ethereal voice finds friendly reinforcements in bassist David Maine, synth player Lauren Martin and drummer Luke Pyenson.
Kline's quick songs cut to the core of her experiences, like journal entries set to melody: Friendships. Love. A dead dog.
The subjects may be cliched, but the minimalist delivery is captivating. She spills her feelings with abstract brushstrokes all ages can relate to if given enough time to absorb her words.
Kline's father, actor Kevin Kline, and mother, actress Phoebe Cates, were also in attendance at the Bowery Ballroom show. Her famous parents are a nearly unavoidable point of interest in her life.
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“People often assume they have some hand in my fame, as if Pitchfork cares, or my parents know what that is,” Kline muses.
But the young Kline says they have always given her unwavering support while letting her remain independent.
“It’s nice that they can understand, especially my mom because she was also in the spotlight as a really young person,” she says. “Being a woman, traveling on her own. I feel like that is something she can totally relate to what I’m going through.”
Kline admits it is a weird lifestyle being on tour six to eight months out of the year. The constant movement upsets normal friendships, relationships and home life. And as a woman putting herself out there in the music industry, it can be a source of other pangs.
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“The way my body is viewed in the world is different than a male body,” Kline says. “People are going to write about the performance but they’re probably also going to be writing about what I was wearing or my hair, which just doesn’t happen to men.”
As she matures, she tries not to feel slighted while navigating life and work in the music world.
“I don’t experience (sexism) in the same way I used to, which was having people trying to pay my bassist because he’s a guy,” says Kline, who is also acting band manager. “I try to not assume things are sexism, I’m trying to be good natured about why things are happening.”
The hard-working band is already back to practicing with barely a chance to catch their breath. There are just a couple short weeks before Frankie Cosmos takes off again, this time to Europe for their biggest tour yet.
“The only reason to do this job is because I love playing my music,” says Kline. “And I love my bandmates.”Send a Letter to the Editor