Interview: Frankie Cosmos

By Anjali DasSarma

“Does anyone wanna hear the 40 songs I wrote this year?” Frankie Cosmos asks. And yes, after hearing 21, we absolutely do. Frankie Cosmos has done it again. Close it Quietly, released on Sub Pop, captures Greta Kline’s genius into a cohesive album. 

Though the recent “Haunted Items” series was a bit more barebones in their construction, much of Close it Quietly appears to be produced in a grander, meat-on-the-bones type of way, perhaps partly down to Gabe Wax’s production. Greta calls the album “bigger” than anything that’s come before.

“A Hit” sees Greta’s off-the-cuff lyrical charm in full form, singing “Every song is a hit / If you pretend to understand it,” she sings. In UFO, a heartbreaking breakup song, Greta’s lyrical genius strikes again. “I wish I could forgive myself for letting it happen / As fast as you forgave yourself for your actions,” she muses. The lyrics, layered over cheerful and direct guitar hooks almost make you forget how deep cut the story is. 

Every lyric is quotable. As is her interview with us below, where she talks collaboration, performing and her continuing search for mystery.  

What were some of your inspirations for your newest album?

Awe, chaotic emotion, love, learning about myself in relation to the world, in-between feelings.

What track are you most excited about? Why?

I’m excited about all of them, but Moonsea and A Joke are ones that feels especially new to me that I am looking forward to sharing!

You’ve mentioned before that many of your songs in the past have been off-the-cuff. How do you decide what’s a demo, and what you’ll perform with your band?

Just by feeling it out, sometimes it just has to do with what we’re excited about in the moment.

I know you’ve said touring and performing aren’t the easiest for you. All-in-all, would you say you enjoy touring? Why/why not?

All in all, I think I do. It depends on the day. I’m still learning how to feel good performing, when it works it feels really worth it.

You’ve been in the spotlight for a while now. How does that affect (or not affect) your growth? How do you take time for yourself?

I don’t feel particularly in a spotlight, so it doesn’t really affect me on a day-to-day basis. When I’m performing, I have to learn to reach a balance between doing a good job for the audience, and also trying to have the transcendent emotional experience that I want from playing music. When I’m home from tour, I love to spend time alone and draw or sculpt or make demos. I appreciate that time so much.

Some of your love songs hit close to home in terms of heartache and pain. What are some of the topics you find easiest and hardest to write about?

I don’t know if any topics are easier to write about, I guess everything is hard to write about. The thing that can be overwhelming about writing is knowing you will never fully capture or be able to explain your feeling. But I just keep trying!

How long have you been working on Close it Quietly? And what’s the meaning of the title?

Overall, the songs were written over a span of 5 years or so… Actin’ Weird came out originally in 2014, and I started writing Wannago in 2015 I think. But then the majority of them were written in the last year or two, and arranged last winter before we recorded. They all feel new, and even the old ones feel fresh because we gave them a new life. The title means a lot of stuff, and also nothing haha.

What about your music videos? They’re incredibly creative. Where do you find ideas for them?

Usually one person has an idea and then we collaborate from there (usually a discussion between me/the band and whoever is making the video). Sometimes we just choose a director we trust and let them do whatever they want (like with the Tom Scharpling video for Apathy, which we didn’t really collaborate on, we just let him do his thing)!

What’s something you wish you knew when you started releasing your music?

I wish I knew how to be mysterious (I still wish this).

With all of the strife happening in the world, is there an issue that stands out to you of importance?

This is a tough question, I can’t really pick one issue… but the issues I care about all pretty much stem from hatred.

If it’s not too personal, could you talk a little about UFO? What kind of significance does that hold for you?

It’s a breakup song. It’s about balancing feelings, or letting yourself feel half-feelings. And also just about dealing with a big change.

What artists are on your playlist right now?

Locate S1, Lizzo, Shy Boys

Is there a catalyst for your music? A specific environment that inspires you?

It depends on the time in my life! Sometimes I do really well sitting at home alone, and sometimes I have to leave the house to get inspired.

How did you like working with Gabe Wax? The album has a woozier feel to it than your previous records. I wondered if that was a result of his input?

We loved working with Gabe! He’s a really good collaborator and we all really trusted his input.

The collaborative element of the record has been emphasized. How did that play out? Why are you now ready to let more people in to your creative process?

The band has always been collaborative, I just think we’ve gotten to a point where we are really good at it, good at communicating, and I’ve gotten less stubborn and more open to making changes to my original parts.

Do you think this album is more about looking outwards, rather than inwards at yourself?

I think it looks both directions! But the inner is often just a tiny reflection of the outer.

How do you think Close it Quietly deviates from Vessel? Is the songwriting process different?

The songwriting process is always different! I think it is just a different feeling album, lyrically and musically.

What’s one thing you’d like for people to know about Close it Quietly?

The sound is bigger, and it has had an effect on the way we sound live, so I think these tours will be particularly special.

Close it Quietly is out now on Sub Pop

Words / Anjali DasSarma

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