This story is over 5 years old.


Submit to the Submissives and Their Bent Lovesick Pop

Ever wondered what Betty and Veronica would sound like if they fronted a vampy pop band from Montreal?

Image: Linx Selby

In a live setting, Montreal’s The Submissives are a six-piece pop band, often dressed alike in lavish white dress, with their dual vocalists stringing roses along their mic stands. On tape however, the band is the solo work of Deb Edison, who writes, plays and records each part on her own. At first listen, The Submissives seem simple enough; they play bent pop songs about the lovesick with a 50s tinge that a friend described as Archie comics-esque. But it doesn’t take long for a subtler message to reveal itself. On “Forces”, a track from The Submissives’ upcoming tape on Montreal’s Fixture Records, Edison starts to show her hand: “People call me crazy / but women are crazy,” she sings: “My old lover told me that last year.”


We spoke to Deb in downtown Montreal to find out more about the subtlety and subversiveness of The Submissives. Noisey: Is that true that no one in the band other than yourself had played music before?
Deb Edison: One of the guitarists has played for a while, but the others were just starting. And it was amazing to teach them and ask them to join, where they’d say, “Really? But I don’t have a bass!” I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to getting the songs down, I feel we can always work it out, and that it’s more important to know each other and connect as people around what the band is about, what it means to us, and why we want to do it. I used to play in bands that were complete random noise, and for that, it’s about having the idea really solid in your mind, and knowing what you want to tell people sub-consciously. In The Submissives, I’m just trying to have as many different senses involved and try to get people feeling what you want them to feel without saying it. I don’t want to directly tell them what it’s supposed to be. For this, I really – even now, I don’t want to say what I was going to say, because if I did, it’d be giving away too much.

Considering you’ve been recording collaboratively with your other bands, what made you pursue this as a solo project?
I’ve been recording solo things since I was 18 or 19 in a different project where I taught everyone the parts, but the songs that I was writing for that…they kind of exhausted those feelings.


What sort of feelings?
I used to feel really angry and had a lot of turmoil. I used to need to fuel myself before I could record, but I don’t feel that way anymore – so The Submissives is basically just submitting. I feel like it’s finally time to play directly to men and boys, because I feel like that’s what’s always been expected of me, or why people think I’m doing what I’m doing. So I think it’s important to speak directly to all the boys. It’s for them and no one else. It’s time to just let them have it. Also, I wanted to write pop songs because I’ve never tried it before and it’s really addictive. Because I’ve been recording for forever, and this is the first time people I know have been like, “Wow, this is music I can listen to!”

So it’s been submitting to pop music as well?
Yeah, exactly. I came up with the band name before I did any of this stuff. And I knew that was the main idea: to submit to the boys. To play for them and dress up pretty for them just to see what happens. Maybe that’s easier; maybe that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.

Is that to avoid the uphill battle of what you were doing before?
Well it will never not be a battle. For the rest of my life I’m going to be living in this world where men are…it’s hard to describe, but there’s no end in sight. You kind of have to accept that it’s always going to be that way. I just want to drain myself of all these love songs about every single boy and all those experiences. But I don’t think I’ll ever be drained – it’s endless.


Well how many records can you write?

I guess we’ll see.

The Submissives’ second tape will be out in August on Montreal’s Fixture Records, and is available for pre-order now.

Max Easton in a writer living in Montreal. Follow him @max___e