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Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline on touring, friends of friends and Wayne Gretzky

The indie pop phenomenon reflects on her time with Australian rock project Good Morning.
Courtesy Pooneh Ghana
Frankie Cosmos features guitarist, bassist and lead vocalist Greta Kline, drummer Luke Pyenson, bassist and keyboardist Alex Bailey, and harmonist and keyboardist Lauren Martin.

I spoke with Greta Kline the morning after our excruciatingly close victory over Episcopal. I had precious few hours between rolling out of bed and a six-hour theater rehearsal to get the interview and my homework done, and I was flipping out. Kline, the guitarist, bassist and lead singer of indie pop project Frankie Cosmos, quickly assuaged any first-impression jitters I had by crunching into her mic: “Sorry, I’m eating cereal.”

Kline had just returned home from a 25-show headlining tour along with Aussie rock group Good Morning as the opening act. From her spot on the living room floor, she told me members of Frankie Cosmos were so enamored that they joined Good Morning for a mini tour less than a month later, with Kline on guitar. We connected over our love of “Country” off 2021’s Barnyard, on which Kline plays the loopy, bouncing riff that she says contributes to the song’s appeal.

Members of Frankie Cosmos and Good Morning hang out on their recent tour. (Courtesy @frankiecombos)

“I have a little tab for it and then it just says ‘times infinity,’” Kline said. “It sounds so complicated, but it’s really just three or four guitars all playing, and the way that it works together is so cool.”

On “Country,” Good Morning’s lead singer Liam Parsons proclaims he is “incapable of changing,” but Kline couldn’t be more different—she’s had at least ten different monikers since the start of her career. Her first, “Wayne,” is the inspiration for the Inner World Peace (2022) track of the same name. Her mother, 1980s It Girl Phoebe Cates, used to call Kline “Gretzky.” Kline’s first grade teacher randomly called her Wayne to pay homage to the legendary hockey player.

“I was like, that’s a really cool name for me. I’m going to be Wayne. And I really tried to make Wayne happen—and it didn’t stick,” Kline said. “But I feel like that’s sort of my first time dabbling in making up a new identity.”

She has settled on Frankie Cosmos, which was originally just the name of her solo project. Kline’s high school boyfriend was the one who came up with it. After Kline introduced him to poet Frank O’Hara, he and his friends started calling her Frankie. One day during a performance together, he called her to the stage as Frankie Cosmos—and that stuck.

“It felt like a cool, kind of weirdly glitzy-sounding stage name for me. I don’t hold it against the name that it’s related to that person. It’s weird to say that he made it up, but it is true,” Kline said. “I think being named by someone can be really complicated, historically. But I feel fine about it, so that’s what matters.”

Kline feels protective of the name, so much so that she wouldn’t feel right calling anything not completely Frankie Cosmos a Frankie Cosmos song; one-off collaborations with current and past band members have been released under the sobriquets Seamripper and Lexie. She credits the struggle to maintain her desired profile to the industry’s obsession with metadata—tiny pieces of production information embedded in a musician’s career.

Kline, right, feels protective of Frankie Cosmos. (Courtesy Loroto Productions)

“I’m very stubborn about what looks like it’s mine and keeping Frankie Cosmos something that feels like an expression of me,” Kline said. “I think everybody experiences some level of proprietariness. You can’t just put things on my Spotify—I’m very particular.”

Kline holds collaborators close. She met my recent interviewee Katie Von Schleicher, who put me in touch with Kline, while recording Inner World Peace. Engineer and producer Nate Mendelsohn was assigned by Brooklyn’s Figure 8 Recording to help the band adjust to recording during the pandemic and brought Von Schleicher along. Kline agreed to hire her for the album, though hesitantly, she admits.

“We were like, “Oh, another person, I don’t know,”” Kline said. “And then we just became obsessed with her and she did an amazing job.”

And to think they met on Zoom.

Kline recalls a show in the woods of Big Sur on May 5, where she shared the stage with Portland pop collective Dear Nora—“who we love!”—as the coolest show she has ever played, with just over 60 people in the audience. The performance was intimate, and fans joined the band in reminiscence and reflection.

“At these shows, it was people only going because they really wanted to be there. A lot of people were singing every word, not talking. I met a lot of kids who said it was their first concert, which was really new for me,” Kline, 29, said. “I’ve never had so many people say that to me on a tour. Meeting a lot of really sweet and kind, enthusiastic audience members was really a highlight.”

Kline: “The first time I was ever asked for a press photo, this is what I sent in. It’s a cell phone photo taken by my mom I think.” (Courtesy Greta Kline)

Kline’s most frequent collaborator is Eliza Lu Doyle, her best friend since they were 12. But many of Kline’s pieces are products of a chance encounter. The artist who created the music video for “F.O.O.F.,” Cole Montminy, went on a date with Kline’s friend. When they didn’t hit it off, she introduced their work to Kline. Likewise, Sophia Bennet Holmes, who directed the “Art School” video, is the little sister of Kline’s friend from high school and collaborated with Kline in art school at NYU, which touts their curriculum’s flexibility. Before she left NYU’s Gallatin School to pursue her music career at 20, she intended to craft her own major combining elements of art and psychology. 

“I would’ve loved to keep going and finish eventually, but I had this career taking off that I had to follow, and I’m really glad I did. I know a lot of people that go back to undergrad in their thirties, so I’m not opposed,” Kline said. “I do really love school.”

When I told her I was preparing for the SAT, she laughed: “That sounds like hell. Good luck.”

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About the Contributor
Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Walker ('25) joined The Review in 2021 as a freshman. She likes Big Salads and her second favorite animal is a shark.

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