When I meet Greta Kline, the lead singer of indie-pop band Frankie Cosmos, outside of the entrance to Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, she’s digging around in her backpack only to reveal a worn-in bucket hat. She sheepishly covers a shaved head–a look not many people can pull off as well as she–with a baby face, the style gives her that necessary cool-girl edge.
“I never would’ve been able to get into bars when I was younger. I still get stopped constantly,” Kline says of her youthful look. “Even when I’m performing at the bars, people give me a hard time because I look so young! I mean it’ll totally work in my favor when I’m older,” she concludes.
Kline grew up in New York City with her Academy Award-winning father, Kevin Kline and mother, actress Phoebe Cates. “Living in New York City as a teen was amazing,” Kline says of her early days in New York. “I was allowed to wander around and take the subway to Brooklyn and see an all-ages house show if I wanted. It really opened me up to the idea that young people can have bands and perform if they want,” Kline adds.
Kline was inspired by the prominent all-ages, DIY music scene that exists in New York City, and she started out by writing songs and publishing them on the Internet under the moniker Ingrid Superstar. “I always loved musicians who had names like that, like James Kochalka Superstar and Har Mar Superstar,” Kline says of the inspiration behind her stage name. “But then I realized that Ingrid Superstar was already a person! She was one of Andy Warhol’s famous friends,” she reveals.
At the time of this discovery, Kline had been nicknamed “Frankie” by her then-boyfriend after she introduced him to her favorite poet, Frank O’Hara.
“I liked the way Frankie Cosmos worked as a band name since Frankie isn’t my actual name,” she says of the creation of Frankie Cosmos. “Cosmos is this infinite thing. Like, why keep it to one person? You’re Frankie Cosmos, I’m Frankie Cosmos, we’re all Frankie Cosmos!”
This inclusive sentiment resonates beyond Kline’s infectious giggle and passionate personality. She explains to me how when she’s on stage, she wants the show’s environment to feel very intimate. “I feel very exposed when I’m on stage,” she admits. “I want to connect with the fans. I want to feel like I’m making a lot of friends. To connect to the music and to people is a special thing,” she says.
Kline’s fans are definitely connected to her personal, diary entry-esque lyrics, a fact that’s easily provable thanks to the massive sing-along that took place on the Blue Stage immediately after our interview.
As our conversation migrates into discussing her many “fans-turned-friends” and how she is very accessible on social media, this musical millennial makes a surprising confession. “I recently went through and un-friended anyone on social media who I didn’t [recognize]. If I’m going to forget about someone because they’re not my Facebook friend, I should just forget about them. I think real friendship is a form that is slowly disappearing.”
On the other hand, Kline admits that her generation grew up on online friendships. While she’s on the road she has limited in-person time with friends. “Texting, emailing and social media are the way to go to maintain a lot of my relationships,” she says. “I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of my relationships. I think the Internet is so weird. You’re never alone. You have to figure out how to get off of it and be alone,” she declares.
As a final thought, Kline delivers this philosophical yet quirky line, “I guess it’s just amazing that we have brains and can think and figure stuff out. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life, just follow your twister. That’s what I’m doing.”
A moment later I watch as Kline zigzags through the festival crowd to find the stage where she was set to perform, nonetheless following her twister.
Frankie Cosmos will be touring in France and the United Kingdom until September when you can find them performing at The Black Cat in Washington D.C., Lincoln Calling Festival in Lincoln, Nevada and the Murmrr Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.
Main image by: Matthew James Wilson