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You Should Know: Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos

Coming to Wisconsin

When: Tuesday, April 26, 2015
Where: High Noon Saloon – Madison
Tickets: $10 adv/ $12 doors. Buy tickets.

The Basics

Where they're from: New York City
RIYL: Kimya Dawson, lo-fi, earnest lyrics

5 questions with Frankie Cosmos' Greta Kline

Frankie Cosmos is the stage name of indie singer-songwriter Greta Kline, a New York City native whose music is rooted in her home city's anti-folk scene. She has self-released 19 lo-fi albums that feature lyrically personal and offbeat songs.

Her sound is unrefined and childish in a way that establishes an intimacy with the listener, as if you’re just hanging out in her bedroom listening to her play some songs.

Radio Milwaukee had a conversation with Kline in anticipation of Frankie Cosmos' upcoming album, "Next Thing," to be released April 1.

Listen to the full, unedited interview and read excerpts below.

1.  How did you get started making music?

I’ve studied music and instruments since I was a kid. I started with violin, which didn’t go so well, and then I took classical piano for like 10 years. I guess when I was a teenager, I was into punk music and stuff people were making in their houses that I was hearing and I was like “Oh my gosh, I can do that.”

2. Frankie Cosmos has this honesty. It sounds like it’s completely you. How do you maintain your individuality and insert yourself into your music like that, without coming off like you’re trying to do something?

Honestly, it’s kind of hard at this point. I don’t think it was difficult when I was younger, but with this album, now that I know people are gonna hear it, it was difficult to maintain that. I keep making jokes that I’m becoming a caricature of myself. But for me, it’s this thing where I have to just not think about who’s gonna listen to it at all and I have to remind myself pretty constantly that I just want to do this for myself, and I do not care if it succeeds.

3. I think that one of the things that I love about the music that you make is that it is really kind of delicate. Did that change by having a band come in?

It’s not as “homemade sounding” but it definitely is still a super homemade effort. We recorded it in a really special place with our friend and we would do the vocal takes at like 4 in the morning and get really crazy. So in that way, it’s still delicate.

It still feels like it’s coming right from me and my bandmates. It’s definitely weird now, because in the past it was a very anonymous thing. I’d have an emotion, I’d write a song about it, and I’d put it online. And now it’s like I have an emotion, I make a song about it, I show the song to my band, we all discuss it for however many days, and we all write new parts for it.

Then by the time these songs come out, some of them are over two years old, which is great because I think that it’s kind of interesting to see the emotion that I had get new meaning and new context over time. I’ve been playing some of these songs in shows since our first tour.

It’s definitely changed the meaning for me, and so it’s gonna be fun to tour with this album in April and be able to be playing these songs with a totally different feeling. In a way, it’s almost more emotional because it’s had all these years to build up meaning for me.

4.  How is being on tour emotional for you?

You kind of just have to be yourself outside of any context of who you are. You’re not at home, you’re not with all the people that you love, you’re not with your family, and you can’t really communicate with anyone except the bandmates that you’re with. You end up getting really in your head.

But I love being on tour. I love lying down on a hardwood floor and going to sleep, because when you do it, it’s like the first time all day that you feel something. A lot of tour is like numbing your feelings, so by the end of the day, you just lie down and feel really weird. Your body is like, “This is the floor. This is your home tonight.” It’s a really weird, beautiful thing.

And it’s crazy, just meeting different people every night. You don’t have time to actually make friendships. You have like a million surface friends all over the country and you hang out with them for this brief moment, and then you’re like “Bye” and it’s actually kind of sad.

5.  It’s like summer camp every night.

Yeah! You just build a new home every night, and then you roll it up and put it back in the car. Also, I think it’s really beautiful to be with a band that you love and get really close to them. It’s really special.

Preorder Frankie Cosmos’ upcoming album "Next Thing."