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The experiences that shape music

by Hussain Almahr March 13, 2018 0 comment
The experiences that shape music

Greta Kline talks about her new album, touring and dogs

Greta Kline is on her way to having a long career in music, but she keeps her songs short. She has been releasing music for almost 10 years now, and her upcoming third album, Vessel, released under the stage name Frankie Cosmos, will come out at the end of March. Kline combines illustrative lyrics with a crispy sound, and the drums and guitar sound fantastic and distinct.

Frankie Cosmos’s songs are usually concise and dynamic at the same time. They may seem minimalistic, but Kline does not intentionally truncate songs. “It depends on the song—some start short and others get cut down to become shorter,” Kline said. “I don’t try to make songs short, but I like them to be concise […] For me, the song is just done when I know it’s done, and that means it doesn’t always need a repeated chorus or extra parts that feel unnecessary.”

However, she does give collaborators creative freedom. “In general, I just like to keep [the visual aspect] really ‘me’ without too much stylization of anything. The album art always stems from images I have in my mind and then collaborate on with visual artists,” Kline said.

The visuals for Frankie Cosmos are evocative, like the new music video for the song “Jesse,” where a poodle stands on the rim of a bathtub—similar to the album cover of Vessel. “With videos, I generally just try to let people I trust make whatever they want,” Kline said.

The music of Frankie Cosmos (right) is delicate and meditative, but mired in anxiety.
Photo by: Loroto Productions

Dogs are a recurring fixture in her work; her music, videos and even the cover to her latest album feature dogs. “I love every kind of dog, and I think they’re all special in their own way,” Kline said. “One of my favourite breeds is a bedlington terrier because they just look so weird, like they are part-sheep part-dog. I have yet to meet a full bedlington in person, though, so they really just exist in pictures to me.” The dog seen on the album cover, Kline mentioned, is actually named Goose, and is part bedlington terrier.

“The main experiences that shaped this album [Vessel] were a lot of touring and playing in bands,” Kline said. Touring creates a space where Kline can write freely. “I think just being in a new place every day and meeting strangers and having a lot of external stimuli inspires me to write a lot,” she added, “I probably write more lyrics on tour than when I’m home, but I’m also just on tour more than I’m at home.”

Ironically, being on tour and in the mindset of making music means musicians often do not have the time or energy to listen to a lot music. “I go through phases of [listening to music], but I’m more often inclined to want silence,” Kline said. However, there are some influences that can be heard in her music. “I remember listening to Anna McClellan and Big Thief during [my down time while touring], and I think some of those influences can be heard in my melodies, maybe.”

Having released three albums, Kline has learned a few things about touring. “This time, the touring will feel really fresh because the new album will still feel new to us live,” she said. “I also am learning to hold onto my relationship to each song and not let the fact that they are out in the world affect that too much.”

Kline said she hopes these new lessons come across in Vessel. “I think every Frankie Cosmos song is just like a chapter for me. So in these chapters, I think I grow a lot and face some truths I hadn’t faced as much in the past, and maybe that will come across.” She feels that, sometimes, it is important to ask ourselves questions we do not know the answers to and see how our opinions change. “Sometimes, the in-between feeling is the answer […] The song is the only place that feeling exists for me sometimes, so for that moment, there is the answer,” Kline said.

Vessel will be released on March 30. Frankie Cosmos will be performing in Montreal on May 4 at the Fairmount Theatre.

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