Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos speaks with Atwood Magazine about her upcoming album ‘Close It Quietly,’ the new roles each bandmate has, and how her period helped her write one of 2019’s greatest love songs.
NY-based indie pop artist Frankie Cosmos is a tour-de-force of some of the industry’s most infectious melodies. Led by Greta Kline, Frankie Cosmos explores a litany of emotions, themes, and ideas throughout their music, often accompanied by sweet acoustic balladry, jaunty alternative rock playing, and stellar backing melodies to make tracks that are personable and catchy.
That style is as present as ever on their upcoming album Close It Quietly which guarantees listeners a fuller sound thanks to the help of the new band. Fans received a taste of what’s to come with the singles released earlier this year starting with “Windows,” a robust and alluring piece of indie pop-rock that sees Kline bounce back from a derailing relationship.
Fans recognized their next single, “Rings (On A Tree)” from the Haunted Items EP, but now the track has been given the full-band treatment, providing a new spin and experience. On the track, Kline explains how “it’s a great example of how big and impactful the band is on the album.” Their most recent single, “Wannago” exemplifies the ebbs and flows of emotions through the track’s dazzling guitar chords and illuminating percussion, giving fans a great tease for what to expect soon.
Atwood Magazine had the pleasure of sitting down with Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline to discuss how Close It Quietly was shaped, how the new full-band life is going, and where she expects to see herself in the future. Get all of this insight in and more in our exclusive interview!
Watch: “Wannago” – Frankie Cosmos
A CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE COSMOS
Atwood Magazine: Hey, Greta! I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today! To start things off, I think congratulations are in order for the upcoming release of Close It Quietly. How does it feel to have the release of your fourth album just around the corner?
Frankie Cosmos: It’s so exciting! We’re all really proud of the record so we’re, you know, excited to share it with everyone.
There’s typically a theme present with many albums, and I think there’s an overall endearing slash reflective one present throughout the new album, so what message are you looking to get across with Close It Quietly? What are you wishing to share?
Frankie Cosmos: Hmm to be totally honest, I don’t really think about what the album is going to do when I’m putting it together. I more so just have a bunch of songs and it sort just becomes an album, but I don’t really have a plan. The themes I usually figure out after I’m done writing and think “oh, there’s a theme on this.” But, I guess – I think, and maybe this is just something I’m feeling in my life, but something with this album, and also this tour, is that I don’t think there is an ending to it. [laughs]
I feel like I say this with every album, but I feel it asks a lot of questions and, like, it’s filled with all of these in-between feelings and allowing myself to have more complicated feelings rather than just “good and bad” or “hate and love.” So those are some of the stuff that comes up in the album and songs for me.
And how did the title, Close It Quietly come to be, and how does it play into the album and those ideas and feelings you had when making it?
Frankie Cosmos: So the name came after it was all done. This is the first album where I didn’t know what it was going to be called. Like, at all. We had such a hard time – we had so many different ideas for the title and we kept going back and forth and some people were really passionate about one thing and others not so much. And then, one day, I was like “I need to let go of putting so much pressure on the title,” so I thought I am just going to name it like I would name some old Bandcamp release that I wasn’t fixated on what the title was going to be.
So that’s what kept thinking throughout the day and I just tried to be calm about it. And then I just said “close it quietly” about something and then bam I was like “alright, there we go, that’s the name.” [Laughs] And it was just really random!
It also sounds like the record-making progress was also pretty different. Do you think it’s fair to say this album had a different process than your other releases?
Frankie Cosmos: I mean, I don’t know if it was much different, but every time we make an album it’s, like, you know, I just keep getting more open-minded about having my bandmates have more intense effects on what everyone else is doing. I kind of always would write and sing and say “okay everyone make your own parts” and then we’d just mess around with it from there. And everyone would always share ideas and such, but this album – this is my first album where I have someone else play guitar on a lot of the songs and parts and overall it was just a lot more sharing.
It always feels collaborative, but this one you can really feel it. I think it comes through a lot more and it’s not just my vision but a lot of people’s ideas and such. And there’s also just a lot more playing. We gave ourselves more time to just play with all the songs and arrangements. I think we put the most work into these arrangements than any other album in the past in terms of time.
Watch: “Windows” – Frankie Cosmos
It for sure is noticeable because there is definitely a bigger sound on this newest album I think. A fuller band sound, more experimentation, and it all sounds fantastic. It’s pretty evident there were a bunch of new ideas being presented here.
Frankie Cosmos: Thanks! I mean, even Lauren – our keyboard player – had a bunch of different keyboards on songs and is now even playing live with two different keyboards. I also feel I’ve gotten better at the guitar – as a person and performer – being able to do more complicated stuff. We also have a new bassist on the album who plays guitar on a bunch of tracks and Alex, who is amazing, all helped and now there is just a lot of bigger sounds on this album. Definitely fees like growth to me! [laughs]
So I want to pull the curtains back on a few songs and their lyrics and get a deeper understanding of them if that’s alright with you?
Frankie Cosmos: Sure, sure!
So I’ll start first with 'Marbles.' I love this track and it’s delicately sweet nature. The line ‘Sometimes I wanna extend, sometimes the pain is so immense it's churning me out. But then you turn around’ is endearing. What came to mind when writing the track and what does it mean to you?
Frankie Cosmos: Well thank you! I feel like that one is such a pure love song. If you want the real story behind it, I was writing it on a night where I was in a lot of pain from my period [laughs] and I was uncomfortable and I was feeling comforted by the person I love. I remember writing about this uncomfortable sleeping situation we were in and just reaching over and scribbling down some of those lines. I think it has this sort of sleep quality to it.
And one of the lines at the end is actually something my boyfriend said in his sleep which was “you’re a perfect planet I want to inhabit” and he doesn’t even remember making that up! But, yeah, it has a sleepy quality to it and it’s just a nice little love song I feel like. [laughs]
That story basically cemented this track as one of my favorites from the album. That is so incredibly sweet! Especially that he doesn’t even remember saying that.
Frankie Cosmos: Right?! I was like, “I’m stealing that lyric” it was just so great. [laughs]
Next, with 'Self-Destruct,' there is some introspection going on here it seems. The line ‘Not violent enough to self-destruct, but I wanna stop being in this life’ stands out. Where was your headspace at during the writing of this track, and what influenced these lyrics?
Frankie Cosmos: Yeah, that one was a dark moment, and it’s funny you pick up on the two solo songs on the album that are really different in energy. I think I wrote it in the back of the car during the tour and going through the middle of a breakup. I was just asking a lot of questions about life and just feeling really depressed honestly. I think that feeling – I’m a person that is very averse to pain [laughs] but I don’t think anyone would really describe themselves as being that, but I just hate suffering and would never hurt myself, so the song was about being suicidal but not violent enough to actually do it.
Those feeling are just stuck in your head, in your brain, and you don’t know where to put it, especially since I felt trapped in the back seat of a car at night so there was nowhere to put it. And I feel that is what music is to me; a place to put it.
Almost like it’s some cathartic experience to just write it down and perform it.
Frankie Cosmos: Exactly! Totally, totally. And just sharing it, too.
Oh, for sure.
Frankie Cosmos: This is something new to me. It’s now part of me, I like sharing it all now.
I also feel it’s important, too.
Frankie Cosmos: Definitely, definitely.
Last track I want to look at is 'With Great Purpose.' The line ‘I don’t know where to go with great purpose’ seems fairly straightforward. Was this a moment of you feeling lost, and is this a feeling that lingered around you?
Frankie Cosmos: Yes! It’s one of those can’t go around it you have to go through it type of feeling. Like, not necessarily knowing what you’re doing but trying to find purpose in everyday life. And it’s also me not knowing where I am, which is something I experience a lot because we’re on tour so much and I just don’t know where I am in a physical sense a lot of the times. [laughs]
Another reason why 'With Great Purpose' stands out to me is because of its mix of acoustic balladry and piano melodies. It felt like you took a small page from the Haunted Items EP to bring over. Was that the idea for the track?
Frankie Cosmos: Actually, that was my dad playing the piano on it! I just wanted him to make up whatever he wanted really. It might have been – I can’t remember when I had him writing it, I guess I had already made the Haunted Items but I don’t – he’s a classical pianist and he plays all kinds of stuff, but I don’t think he taking any influence from my playing. I told him “do whatever you want” and it was really fun and also it was one of the only moments where I felt like a producer by directing him through each take. My mom was also singing harmonies. I just wanted my family to be on the track, so that was the main driving force behind that. I thought it would be sweet! [Laughs]
Do you feel there is room for more piano-focused tracks on future albums? Or was Haunted Items a sort of one-off experiment?
Frankie Cosmos: I love doing that, I would definitely do it again. I play some piano deep in the mix as some texture in the album. I can’t remember which tracks, but it’s hardly perceptible [laughs]. But yeah, I love playing and I’m sure I would do it again. I have no immediate plans or ideas, but Lauren is now using piano sounds during live shows on a couple of hidden parts along with the synth sounds.
And speaking of the Haunted Items EP, what made ‘Rings (On A Tree)’ the one you wanted to carry over into Close It Quietly?
Frankie Cosmos: There were a couple we wanted to carry over but “Rings (On A Tree)” was the one that we had the most different idea for it. I always play the tracks to see if it’ll spark anything with the band, and when I played “Rings (On A Tree)” it got buried and they forgot the name. Later, our drummer said, “there was this one song that I don’t remember the name of it but I want to do a disco song with it.” We couldn’t remember what song it was until they saw me play it solo and they were like “that’s the ones, that’s the song!”
At that point, I had already recorded Haunted Items and had it as this piano track but then we took it to a totally different place with his direction. I dunno, I just feel it’s so fun to play now with the full band because it’s such a different song. Everyone has touched it in their own particular way and it’s just so funny that it felt like a piano song when first writing it but now it feels like a funky, interesting collage with that funk and the lyrics which are very… weird. [laughs]
When listening to it now I love the feeling of having two different experiences with it. It’s almost like they are two completely different songs.
Frankie Cosmos: Yeah! It really does feel like two different songs and two different things even though it’s the same lyrics and melody. Ultimately, it’s a great example of how big and impactful the band is on the album.
Listen: “Rings (On A Tree)” – Frankie Cosmos
From your first studio album Zentropy to now with Close It Quietly, how do you feel you have developed as a band and as a person in general?
Frankie Cosmos: Well, for the first studio album we were a two-piece and it was a different band, it just sounds so different. The drummer is also not the same drummer which I think is apparent. Lauren, Luke, and Alex who is our bassist did second guitar on two songs on Vessel but he wasn’t in the band yet. So, in that way, it’s changed. There are all these different formations of the band with the studio albums, so there was me, David, Erin, and Gabby who is the old keyboardist, so there is always a different version, but this is the band that has been touring together with the longest over the seven years.
But everyone is always doing such different stuff. People are writing harmonies and Alex’s bass playing shines on this album because he’s just such a different kind of bassist than David is. It feels like there are so many more melodies going on. With Lauren now having been in the band for so long, her and I are the least strained members of the band and have gotten a lot more confident with writing, playing, and just writing stuff. So I think that really shows in the newest album. I think you can hear the transitions – the little tweaks and changes – to this lineup in this album.
I’ve loved every bandmate that I’ve had – they’re all talented and have brought something unique. But this is the band now [laughs] so this is what we sound like! This is what Frankie Cosmos sounds like and we’re sort of rearranging some of those older songs to probably play on tour. They’re all going to sound super different because it’s all different players and different writers.
Any hints at what older tracks will be seeing that rearrangement treatment?
Frankie Cosmos: We’re trying to do a couple from everything, so we’re looking to do stuff from Zentropy something from Fit Me In – I mean, we always play something from Next Thing so we already kind of got those, but we now also have all this equipment from the new album so I think it’s all going to sound really different. The plan is – I don’t want to be lying – but the song “Owen” from Zentropy and probably “Korean Food” from Fit Me In for the live shows so that’ll be fun.
Oh that’s rad! I think that’ll be such a great change of pace with the full band experience with those tracks.
Frankie Cosmos: I hate to be such a gear head, but I’m pretty psyched about my new guitar, Lauren’s new keyboard, and everything just sounds great. It’s really fun! [laughs]
Last question for you, Greta. How do you see your artistry growing in the future, and what are you looking forward to the most?
Frankie Cosmos: Oohh, well, you never know until you’re doing it. I can always tell my artistry is changing a little bit. I go through phases and look at what chords I’m using the most and whatever, but yeah it’s always growing and I’m hoping to just learn all kinds of new abilities and just add to what I already know what to do. [Laughs] I’m working on a lot of weird stuff always, you know? But I don’t want to give anything away! But there’s some new stuff I’m working on and I’m excited to see where it goes. But yeah, I just hope that as a musician it always just feels like playing, I always want it to be fun. I think that’s something I’m trying to hold onto as I learn different kinds of skills and not too worried about making everyone else like it. Hopefully. And hopefully people do like it! [laughs]
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📸 © Jackie Lee Young