Frankie Cosmos has a passion for songwriting
With actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates for parents, there’s some major talent in musician Greta Kline’s family. But Kline’s precocious older brother influenced her artistic pursuits far more than her famous mom and dad.
Kline somewhat ruefully recalls her brother, Owen, enlisting her as his “minion” for the amateur movies and other creative projects he made as a child. She struggled with shyness and with finding her own creative outlet as she was growing up, experimenting with journaling and drawing comics. But, around age 15, she found her passion in songwriting, putting nearly a decade of piano lessons to use.
“It was the first thing that I wasn’t really worried about whether or not I was good at it, I think because it was the one art form that my brother wasn’t doing,” she laughs.
From there, the floodgates opened. Kline has released nearly 50 albums through the online music streaming platform Bandcamp since 2009. The songs are short — most under two minutes — and the recordings are very lo-fi. But Kline’s simple pop hooks and talent for wry lyrical observation distinguished the project, which took several names before she adopted the moniker “Frankie Cosmos” in 2012. She and her band will perform Thursday at the Loving Touch.
Kline has refined her sound and songwriting a bit since 2014, when she released her studio debut, “Zentropy.” What had been a more private project became a critically well-received record, and Kline started touring for the first time. Although she didn’t expect to enjoy the experience, she says touring with her band has become “really grounding” and “a really big part of my life that I never expected.”
However, making a career of her music has also changed Kline’s creative process a bit. Kline has churned out her new studio, full-length album, “Next Thing,” a studio EP and a couple more Bandcamp-only releases since “Zentropy” arrived, but she misses the spontaneity of her earlier days. The studio recording process has forced her to be more deliberate in writing and selecting songs, and touring often leaves her little time to write.
After her fall tour, Kline will begin prepping another studio album — but she hopes to include some of the simpler, rougher recordings that characterized her earlier work this time. Speaking from her home in New York City during a brief break from touring earlier this month, Kline says she hopes to rekindle the creative spark after her next string of shows.
“My goal this winter when I’m home is to try and write like 30 songs or something in three months,” she says. “That’s my ideal goal, to keep writing stuff and working on stuff every day, if I can do it.”
Kline is a bubbly, somewhat whimsical personality, cheerily discussing how she recently wrote a new song by singing aloud while riding her bike around New York. Her only testy moment comes when she discusses journalists’ frequent assumptions about her parents. She says she found it “annoying” as a child when people recognized her father on the street, but she was otherwise mostly unaware of her parents’ celebrity.
“That’s the biggest thing that really confuses me,” she says. “People are like, ‘Why didn’t you become an actor?’ and I’m like, ‘Why didn’t you become whatever your parents do?’ ”
Creativity may run in the family, but Kline is set on blazing her own trail.
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
with Big Thief and Stef Chura
8 p.m. Thursday
The Loving Touch
22634 Woodward, Ferndale