A Conversation About Frankie Cosmos’ ‘Vessel’ that Contains Multitudes
Frankie Cosmos is the perfect name for Brooklyn-based musician Greta Kline’s band, as each album contains just that: a whole, gorgeous universe. Her upcoming release, Vessel, is a shining collection of near-story songs that dance on the tightrope between twee and dark, striking that perfect balance that lodges lines in one’s brain for weeks.
Vessel is Frankie Cosmos’ third studio album and 52nd release — their debut on Sub Pop Records — and it touches on everything from love to “stuff” to Kline’s dearly departed dog, Joejoe. TIDAL had the chance to send the singer-songwriter a few questions via email before the record drops this Friday (March 30). Check out our conversation below.
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I read that you have a lot of young, religious fans. Why do you suppose that is? I feel like in today’s society, religion is not as fully embraced by younger people as in the past – especially among those who are into “indie” music (whatever that means). Do you think music serves a similar purpose for people? Giving them direction/something to believe in? Where do you find that purpose yourself?
I don’t know if we have a lot of religious fans; what I really meant was that I’m surprised to have any! I feel like everyone probably reaches some point where they seek something like religion. I am still trying to figure out how to have something like that in my life, what to believe in.
‘Stuff’ is an interesting song. It seems to be about how nothing really lasts or sustains: ‘Can you tell anyone this stuff? Will it make a difference? Will they forget it within minutes?’ What do you think of the concept of stuff and our societal need to collect it? How about spiritual or non-tangible ‘stuff’? Like conversations about TV shows and your daily commute. I may be missing the point of this song, of course. If so, please educate me.
That’s an interesting reading of the song! For me it’s about how communication fails— feeling like you are sharing a secret with someone and how hard that is, and having them forget it or not be listening in the first place.
I hate unnecessary physical stuff for the most part. I think non-tangible stuff is more fun to collect.
I’m interested in the concept behind ‘Accommodate,’ that you’re not meant to exist in this world and your body often fails you. Can you expand on that a bit? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get really freaked out by thinking about how fragile our eyes are and how thin our skin is, and I marvel that we’re able to go about our days not fully expecting certain injury or death.
For me, this song isn’t so much about my body in that physical sense (although there are other songs on the album about what you are talking about!), but about what it means in the world, to other people. What do people assume about you because of what your body signifies to them? How does it affect the way they treat you? Is it possible to escape those assumptions?
‘Duet’ was originally written a while back. Can you describe your mind-state then versus in 2018?
At the time, I thought I was writing a duet between an ideal couple. What I realized later (and how I feel now) is that every duet is with yourself — you are always projecting your own feelings onto your partner, and you can never really understand them.
Can you tell me a little bit about when the characters Ricky and Julie from the ‘Ballad of R&J’ entered your head?
I actually stole the names of those characters from someone else, but I decided to accept their fate as part of my life in September 2016 when I wrote the song.
You talk about your dog, Joejoe, on ‘Bus Bus Train Train’ – in terms of appearing as a taxidermied creature that’s still around in some kind of mind museum. I understand that drive to keep a pet alive. My cat, Edie, just died, and I got a tattoo of her (and drumsticks!) on my arm. It weirdly makes me feel like she never left. How do you relate to animals and how do they fit into your life? Obviously, they are not people, but I think we do reflect something of our personalities onto them, and, when they die, we have to reevaluate that part of who we are.
Aw, I’m sorry to hear about your cat. I also have a lot of ways that I keep finding Joejoe in the world and feeling him alive in different ways. The one thing death maybe can’t take away is memories and impressions on your life, you get to try to hold onto those. I love animals and especially dogs, and I’m always trying to find ways to interact with dogs as often as possible.
Regarding ‘My Phone’ – and the idea of love and technology co-existing – how do you show you love people? Words? Actions? Music?
Actions or gtfo!
On that note, a lot of your music is about relationships, the blossoming or failure thereof. Do you write better when you’re single or attached? Or newly single or newly attached? I personally kind of hate earnest love songs – or songs about weirdly idealized love. I had an ex who only wrote songs about perfect girls who didn’t exist (never me), and that just bummed me out because I was like, ‘Is your music really that empty?’
Yeah, that sounds very twisted. To me it doesn’t matter if I’m single or attached, as long as I’m feeling something. But I don’t think I could ever really write about something that wasn’t a little bit rooted in my own reality.
Also, you have some cool sounds on this album. What’s an instrument/sound we might be surprised to find appears on this record? I remember something from Viv Albertine’s book about a Slits song containing percussion that was just basically a spoon dropping. Anything like that on this record?
Haha not really…probably the most time-consuming sound was the shaker — Luke and Lauren spent a long time figuring out the perfect container and contained combo to get the right shaker sound. I’m pretty sure they settled on a can filled with couscous.
Re: ‘Being Alive.’ When was the last time you felt just blown away that you’re here, alive and now?
The other day I was walking on the street and just noticing all the weird leaves and twigs on the ground and stuff. Shapes in nature often remind me to be excited that I exist.
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