28 Apr Marsha and the Positrons Usher in Spring with Surf-Pop Vibes and Fun, Brainy Kindie Rock
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Marsha Goodman-Wood, lead singer of Washington, D.C., kindie rock band Marsha and the Positrons, is possibly the only person I’ve met who feels deep sympathy for Pluto. And now I do, too, after hearing her band’s song about Pluto being downgraded to ‘dwarf-planet’ status not too long ago.
I learned a ton about the solar system, too. The video for ‘Hey Pluto’ features some pretty cool real NASA footage and Danielle DeKoker’s animated art, as dreamy surf-pop guitars and laser sounds play in the background. And that’s exactly what makes Marsha’s fun, brainy kindie-rock band stand out.
“I’m a former cognitive neuroscientist, so I think showing kids you can be a scientist, a musician, a mom, and a songwriter is powerful,” Marsha tells Rockmommy. “Connecting science to humanity and to being a kind and thoughtful human is an important message that I incorporate into my songwriting.”
But the Positrons’ songs aren’t just brainy — they’re also mood boosters. The band’s latest single, ’Ghost Forest Investigators’ (out on Arbor Day, 4/28) is loaded with feel-good, surf-rock, Scooby Doo vibes, while covering multiple themes of climate change, science, and facing fears (and it’s also perfect for your forthcoming Halloween mix). We recently caught up with Marsha to learn more about her band, making music, and balancing creative life with motherhood.
Rockmommy: Hi Marsha! For those who don’t know you or your group, the Positrons, how would you describe your sound/style?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: We’re a kindie rock band — indie rock inspired/influenced, with a jazzy, poppy edge. We play fun songs about science and how the world works with positive social messages!
Rockmommy: Did you grow up in a musical family? Who were your inspirations?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: My family is NOT musical, but I have very early memories of listening to music and have been singing my whole life. They Might Be Giants was the first band I was into. One of my top vocalist inspirations is Ella Fitzgerald. Others include Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin — and back in the day I loved Whitney Houston. Favorite songwriters include Dar Williams, Billy Bragg, and Elvis Costello. I used to take in a lot of indie rock shows and was a radio DJ, so my influences are a mashup of all that.
Rockmommy: I’m from DC!! What’s the kindie/family music scene like there?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: There are wonderful places for families to enjoy music here, especially in the spring and summer. Families here love music — our audiences are enthusiastic and excellent! DC hosts major national events, festivals, and has Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, which draws artists from across the country. We were honored to play at their storied Children’s Theater in the Woods last summer! Lots of parks and towns have outdoor series, especially in VA and MD, and there are small neighborhood festivals and series at places like coffee shops and bars. Unfortunately, many indoor venues/series still haven’t come back since the pandemic shutdown.
Rockmommy: What are you hoping to accomplish with your music? How do you hope your songs will inspire young listeners?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: I love getting people singing, dancing, and having fun with science! I think a female-fronted group with two moms who play instruments and sing is great modeling.
I’m also a former cognitive neuroscientist, so I think showing kids you can be a scientist, a musician, a mom, and a songwriter is powerful. Connecting science to humanity and to being a kind and thoughtful human is an important message that I incorporate into my songwriting. I try to wrap those messages in fun, catchy, clever lyrics. I enjoy putting new twists on a theme and sharing topics my listeners may not have thought about before that to inspire them to explore new ideas.
Rockmommy: How do you and your band make creative life and parenthood work well?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: Ayanna Gallant and I are both moms — she has one young son, and I have three kids. My oldest two are now in college and my youngest is finishing elementary school. Our keyboard player, David Durst, is a dad of two, as is our producer, TJ Lipple. There’s always much juggling to make it all work.
Flexibility is key. We work around kids’ sports, school schedules, and various family needs. Some things do take more time because of our family responsibilities. However, it’s a joy to be able to make music for families AND our own kids, so the difficulties that come with being artist/parents are worth it.
Rockmommy: Tell us about your latest record! How did it come together? Any particular theme driving it?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: Our new record covers a variety of science and nature topics, and has songs about positively coping with life. I wrote many of the songs during the pandemic, and because of my mashup of influences, there’s a mix of musical styles. We have 16 collaborators, including kindie friends, hip-hop artists, beatboxing, jazz guitar, saxophone, and more!
Rockmommy: What’s the collaborative songwriting process like? Do you come to each other with ideas?
Marsha Goodman-Wood: So far, I’ve done all the songwriting, but my bandmates added their awesome creative input at the studio and during the recording process. I love it when my producer or bandmates hear something in a song I wrote and take it in a new direction.
For example, our new single, “Ghost Forest Investigators,” started off jazzy, but at the studio our bass player Jon Guo started doing the driving bass that you hear. Our producer TJ drummed on the record, and he responded with the upbeat, intense drums on the track. I remember him asking me how fast I could sing it, we hit “record,” and the rest is history!
Rockmommy: Are you playing a lot of live shows this spring and summer? Tell us about that!
Marsha Goodman-Wood: Yes! Many of our summer shows are free outdoor series in VA, MD and DC. We’ll post all our public shows on our website, but the best way to know what’s coming is to follow us on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook! We have music videos and live performances on our YouTube channel @MarshaandthePositrons. We’d love to build our subscribers and have some cool music videos coming with our new record!
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.