Frankie Cosmos Tells Us about Her Poetry Obsession and Upcoming Tour
Some kids keep diaries. But 22-year-old Greta Kline grew up sharing her feelings in a different way: in hundreds of original songs she recorded in her bedroom and posted on the internet. The New York native released Bandcamp tracks under the alias Ingrid Superstar as a teen before adopting her current musical alter ego Frankie Cosmos. Throughout these name changes—and, you know, the whole growing up thing—Greta’s solidified her place as an unapologetically unique indie pop voice to be reckoned with. Now she’s got a record deal, a brand-new album (aptly titled Next Thing), and an international tour this fall. Before she sets off, Greta called in to talk about her poetry obsession and what it’s like reliving your teen years through song.
You've mentioned that you're a huge poetry fan, which isn't something most people associate with teens. How'd you first become interested in it?
Where I went to school, every English class had a poetry unit throughout childhood, so I was introduced to poetry early. I learned Shakespeare and the classics as a kid, and then a little bit later I started to become interested in more modern poets. My dad is really into Shakespeare, and he would always make me read that stuff, which probably had an effect on my getting into poetry later on.
Who are some of your favorites?
I remember being in fifth grade and my mom showing me Billy Collins’s poetry, and I instantly liked him. As a young person getting into poetry, it was easiest to do with poets that seemed fun or funny—that was most interesting to me. That kind of poetry does exist, too. It’s not all Shakespeare sonnets or necessarily stuffy things you have to read in school. There are so many awesome female poets out there. Two of my favorite poets are Elizabeth Bishop and Margaret Atwood—those are both fabulous writers. And Stevie Smith is a female, too. It’s just about exposing yourself to all different kinds of poets and then seeing who clicks the most with you.
How long have you been working on your new album, Next Thing?
I wrote the oldest song on my album in 2013. They’re not super old, but they’re songs we’ve been playing live for a really long time. When it was time to make the record, we had this live set that I liked and wanted to document. So we combined these really well-rehearsed tracks with a bunch of new, fresh-feeling ones we made.
You have tons of old work posted on the internet. Do you ever go back and listen to your past songs, or does that feel too cringey?
For awhile, I wouldn’t listen to some of my old songs after they were out. I recently played a secret show as Ingrid Superstar, which was my old childhood songwriting persona. I went back and listened to a bunch of songs to figure out what I was going to play, and I was so freaked out. I was like, “I can’t believe these songs are online!” It’s like a totally different person made them, which makes it a really weird experience to listen to them. So much has changed since then. I like how you can listen to the huge length of time that I’ve been putting out music, and you can literally hear me learning how to play guitar and write through the songs [Laughs]. For me, I can see how the emotional responses to situations change. I can be writing about the same thing from 2010 to 2016, and the emotion that I have about it will be totally different.
What do you and your bandmates do during downtime on the road?
The thing that I miss the most on tour is probably Netflix, because I don’t bring my computer on the road. I don’t really do internet in the car—I just read. But to be honest, it’s really hard to do anything on your own when you’re in a band in the car, because you're always around a bunch of other people. I tour manage too, so I’m always doing tons of other things. I never have time to be bored on the road.