Lucas Sams is more than Pray for Triangle Zero.
It’s easy to miss this given the blitzkrieg of far-reaching, largely electronic-based music the Columbia artist has issued under the name since 2009. He pushed past the century mark with last fall’s massive and mercurial #100, and last month’s sprawling and corrosive single-track “mixtape” Odious is his third release of original material in 2018, to go along with a third Greatest Hits compendium culling his catalog into more manageable chunks.
But Sams pays his bills as a visual artist, affixing canvases with intriguing cascades of melting color in a way that matches his aggressively psychedelic musical aesthetic. His most recent show will hang in The Hallway gallery at 701 Whaley through June.
He also releases other people’s music. Inspired by the success of labels such as Illuminated Paths that leverage Bandcamp’s stream-for-free, pay-to-download platform to connect daring music with equally bold listeners, Sams’ Tri City Rec imprint has cultivated a robust selection of releases exploring indie music’s experimental fringes.
This weekend’s third annual edition of Tri City’s Future Fest pairs standouts from the local community — the gracefully glitching video game manipulations of Pluto Castle, the spare and ominous soundscapes of Expugnantis — with the first-ever touring showcase from Illuminated Paths.
Free Times sat down with Sams to talk about his varied pursuits. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Free Times: How did Tri City Rec start?
Lucas Sams: Essentially, it was sort of an ironic label, like a fake vanity imprint. Just like anything I would put out, or any friend at the time, just say Tri City Rec. Then it became kind of a real thing, I guess, in 2015 when I started developing the net label and reaching out to different artists to kind of build a little roster.
Illuminated Paths, labels like that really inspired me to have the Bandcamp presence and to build, curate that into what it is.
How did it become a more serious endeavor?
I guess that was just releasing things. I would just put up a Mediafire link or a Soundcloud link — “Here’s a new album, download it.” I had several blogs that I deleted and made new ones. Putting it all on Bandcamp started as just archiving my own old Triangle Zero stuff. It was around the same time that I got sober, and I was just like, “I’m going to get my s#!t together. I have all these old albums, I’m going to start putting them online.”
Bringing visibility and cohesion to Columbia’s niche, electronic-leaning musicians, is that part of your motivation?
Definitely. It’s cool working with artists that really haven’t been releasing a lot of stuff. It gives them, ‘I’m on a label.’ Even if it’s a label I run out of my house. I go to the copy shop down the street and print out cassette labels. Compared to bigger labels, it’s like, ‘Is this even a label?’ But even that level, it feels good. I never really had that as an artist. Especially in Columbia. It was hard getting taken seriously as a computer musician back in the day.
How much has Bandcamp changed the game when it comes to releasing this kind of music?
It’s completely changed it. It’s allowed me to support a lot of artists that I care about and enjoy what they’re doing. It helps artists discover new music and people who are looking for new stuff. And releasing stuff to relative obscurity, it’s decent. Somebody’s going to listen to it. And now, at this level, that’s keeping me going. Hopefully build that up a little bit.
How do you make time for the label while mustering your own releases?
I’m definitely not sitting on a couple right now. [laughs]
It’s sort of an obsession. So it’s kind of a problem, finding times to do normal things, and not be on the computer doing this stuff. Really, these days, it’s just been finding moderation and doing self-care. If I get bored with what I’m doing in one area, I switch it up and have a more holistic approach to art-making and life. I’m in a good flow with that now.
How does the process for your visual art and music differ?
Visual art, I was able to be classically trained in that. Music, I don’t know what notes are called. So I think it’s the same parts of my brain just applied to different things. I would encourage anybody that wants to try something new to just approach it like you do something you’re good at, it can translate very well to that. I see a lot of interplay. If I’m in a mood visually, the sounds I’m hearing will kind of be in that mode.
Has that made music more exciting for you, figuring it out as you go along?
It’s definitely been the way that I’ve done it. And I’m definitely drawn to people that also kind of have that same background that they just wanted to do it and found ways to do it that aren’t necessarily the ways you’re supposed to do things. I like that.
What:Future Fest III
Where: Space Hall (Tapp’s Arts Center), 1644 Main St.
When: Friday, June 15, 7 p.m.
With: Pluto Castle, Espugnantis, juguardini, Ships in the Night, Illuminated Paths Showcase (Byson, Ohtwo, TTN, Passage, Airborne.AVi)
Price: $10 ($7 advance)
More: 803-988-0013, tappsartscenter.com