A place for ideas

The news came as a bit of shock a couple of weeks back when event venue and art space Apothecary announced it was losing its lease. But there’s that saying about doors closing and windows opening. In the case of Apothecary, the opening comes in the form of label ASYSTEMS.

“Marrying actual visual space and virtual space is something we’re all very interested in,” says Dow One who, with Soshie Lan, is curating the content of ASYSTEMS. “Unfortunately, we lost the physical space. We’re working on that, still, but for the time being we’re going to focus heavily on facilitating the release of products and archiving and documenting the work of people in town who are just doing amazing stuff.”

Apothecary was the collective effort of a number of volunteers. Its core group of four met as students at UNC Asheville. Frank Meadows and Nick Scavo were hands-on in the running of the venue while One and Lan were involved with concepts around the space. With the launch of ASYSTEMS, it’s One and Lan who move into more active roles. Already, ASYSTEMS has eight products available: CDs by Shenzen, Aldi and Paciens Trine; mix tapes (on cassette) by Echo Rush and Wachovia, two pamphlets and a floppy disk “which is an experimental release about exposing format. Like, how people listen to music,” says One.

As the pamphlets and floppy disk suggest, ASYSTEMS will represent much more than music projects. Writers will be commissioned to create pamphlets on a variety of subjects. “We’re commissioning a manifest. We’re releasing a book, we’re releasing videos that people are doing,” says One. “The idea for ASYSTEMS is to actually build a system where everything that could exist offline, in the real world, can exist online. You can have a good experience with the product online.” It’s a place for ideas, he adds.

Not that music isn’t important. The Apothecary founders are all musicians. One and Lan are producers who will monitor submissions to ASYSTEMS. “Music is definitely where we are,” says One. “But if we release an album, there should be some kind of multimedia presence whether that be video or literature.”

He continues, “If we bring artists into the system, they can expand themselves and do larger works than they thought they were capable of.” So, big ideas but not much overhead.  ASYSTEMS is currently self-funded. Projects are released in small batches (a maximum run of 25, at this point) and depends on word-of-mouth for both submissions and consumers. Then again, Apothecary had a much wider reach than its tiny corner of Eagle and Market Streets. The hard-to-describe but easy-to-appreciate arts space had an “If you build it, they will come” effect, attracting not just experimental and cutting-edge local artists and musicians, but nationally-touring acts as well.

“Our philosophy is that if we believe in it enough, and if we work hard enough and have brilliants products, it will happen,” says One.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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