Local folk/rock/pop duo Marten’s Platform mingles feisty lyrics with mindful melodies
The female harmony duo has little celebrity on the stage of rock ‘n’ roll drama. It usually stands just offstage, with its clear soft voices drowned out by the four-part male rock band, the three-part male punk band or the charismatic female vocalist who casts herself as a fervid, sexy folk rebel (like Ani DiFranco), an angelic pop star (Sarah McLachlan) or a barely post-pubescent sexpot (Britney Spears). Like female costars who both get Oscar nominations for their starring roles in a film, it’s almost as if two female musicians cancel each other out.
Sad that it should be so, since female duos often have a sweet, compelling musical dynamic unheard elsewhere. Take folk/rock/pop band Marten’s Platform, one of the few, if not the only, female duos in the area. Guitarist/vocalist Tara Connolly and vocalist Kat DeGeiso started Marten’s Platform—named after platform-style shoes and Doc Marten footwear—in the fall of 1997. They played one show together before setting Marten’s Platform aside to join the band Three Foot Hand.
But Three Foot Hand disbanded, and Connolly and DeGeiso have been filling local coffeehouses with their harmonizing vocals for the past year and a half.
“I wouldn’t be able to go solo,” Connolly says. “I can’t even go up and do an open mic. … I think I’d rather pour lemon juice on an open wound.”
Yet away from the microphone, Connolly is an open and vivacious person, fond of wearing playful fashions that cast a sly rebellious wink at clothing conventions of the day. DeGeiso, on the other hand, is reticent and soft-spoken, elaborating on Connolly’s animated quips with a few well-chosen words.
When in song, these voices ring out equally pure and clear—soft at first, then rising into a powerful alto harmony.
“I’m a harmonist and so is Tara, and I naturally hear the harmony and tend to stay that way,” DeGeiso says.
“Harmony gets our message across better,” Connolly adds. “Harmony helps to emphasize certain emotions.”
A case in point is their song “Wonder Woman.”
“It was actually written for [last summer’s all-girl music festival] Ladies in the Park,” Connolly says. “It wasn’t an anti-boy thing; it was a very pro-girl thing. It admits things about me that don’t necessarily fit into mainstream society. … It’s about being comfortable in your own skin.”
“It’s a very positive song,” DeGeiso adds.
Not all of their lyrics are quite so positive. Connolly says that they’re fond of “ripping on Britney Spears.”
“One song goes, ‘the fashion sense of Britney Spears is something I do not want.’ “
Alone, perhaps, neither Connolly nor DeGeiso would feel at ease mocking Spears or singing boldly about the body image issues addressed in “Wonder Woman.” Harmonizing, however, allows them to sing their minds.
“There are admittedly quite a few break up songs [that we sing],” Connolly says. “One kind is, ‘It just wasn’t meant to be.’ [Another is],'You screwed me over.’ “
She pauses, laughing. "And you never screw over a girl with a guitar, because she’s gonna share it with the world."