By Elizabeth Kim

Despite the cool, dark maturity of the album’s look and sound, GIMMICK by James Supercave is an album named after a joke.

“I think it’s a helpful reminder to not take anything too seriously. That’s not what life is about. If you’re not laughing at the universe, it’s gonna laugh at you.”

Even the band’s name is non-referential and was just an avatar name used by the bands chief singer-songwriter and producer, Joaquin Pastor.

“I really like a name that is an empty piece of real estate on the language landscape,” he said. ”It gives artists an opportunity to sort of fill in the space with what they see fit.”

So who is James Supercave? And what’s their GIMMICK

The band – made up of Pastor, Patrick Logothetti, and Andreas Villalobos – hails from Los Angeles and released their sophomore album, GIMMICK, last October. Like many other bands, the pandemic forced James Supercave into a short hiatus where they were all still writing music, but Pastor described this album as “fresh,” saying that everything on the album was taken strictly from material that the band wrote together, not from material they wrote separately in quarantine. 

“We kind of threw down the gauntlet and said, ‘Okay, from today forward, anything that is going to come out, it’s going to be written after today, and we’re going to make this as present a record for our own lives as possible.’”

The band took multiple trips to Joshua Tree National Park for writing retreats, where they rented a studio and just wrote music for twelve hours a day without the distractions of the city. 

“When you live in Los Angeles, everyone has their own lives – it’s like, they’ve got a dinner date that they’re supposed to get to or they’ve got a thing later – all of that stuff disappears when you lock yourself up in a space in the desert,” Pastor said. “I think it’s really, really nice to create space where time can collapse for yourself and you can let what’s gonna happen happen.”

Even though these writing retreats sound intense, the band only set one restriction for themselves: everything on the album must be made together. This led to all kinds of influences leaking into the album, from modern psychedelia to synth pop to 70’s glam rock and funk. The band also focused on prioritizing the process of writing the album instead of just looking towards the end result, which led to multiple renditions of every song on the album, with some songs going through four different final mixes. 

“We’re not running a democracy – it’s this very loose space where we all want to be satisfied with the work, so we’re pushing it as far as we can stand it.”

GIMMICK isn’t a concept album, but this kind of search for satisfaction is reflected in many of the songs on the album, such as in the lyrics to the song “THE SITUATION.”

Take my life, it don’t belong to me

They give ’em away for free

What’s it cost to fall asleep

Take my time, never waste a beat

The good life is killing me

It’s everywhere you wanna be

While some lyrics might read bleak, there is definitely a sense of hopefulness and searching throughout the album. Looking at the past with some pessimism, but at the same time, looking towards the future with optimism. Every track of GIMMICK explores a different aspect of life, but all with the notion of moving forward, whether we want to or not.