It's the most wonderful time of the year


January is my favorite month of the year. It's the time of the year that I get to brainstorm my yearly goals for Bivouac Recording. For the past four years I have completed all my yearly goals and it is such a great feeling on the last day of the year to be able to look back and see how much I have done. It is very motivational for me and I highly recommend it.

For the entire month I open my notebook and draw, sketch, and plan as many crazy ideas as I can. Alot of it is related to the progression of existing projects but there are a few new project ideas there that may or may not be realized until much later.

I remember my first year of doing this I recorded and released the Hewangmiao Social Tapes album. Taking the initiative to get out there and organize my solo adventure was exhilarating, even when my car got stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere and I had to walk to a local farmhouse to ask for help. Nonetheless this release was the catalyst for all the subsequent releases of Matt Shepard Tapes and Poyang Lake, a huge amount of 60 Minute cities albums, successful crowdfunding for Growing Up With Shanghai, and more recently the release of the first Bivouac. Live. album.

Alot of these goals were realized out of sheer luck when I received an email or phone call or met someone that could start the engine. Sometimes things just happen when you least expect it. You just have to keep pushing on with what you believe and if it doesn't, then you just have to make it happen no matter what, or, you will just have to wait...

All of this got me thinking about when I first started Bivouac in 2003 in NYC. It was actually a similar kind of motivation that inspired me to begin this label. I had been several years out of college and working in architectural firms. I was learning alot but was also getting very tired of working towards something that had no personal reward- something I could call my own. I was working for someone else's reward. I remember in University, the first day of a new project was always the most exciting. How my brain seemed to flood with ideas and the anticipation of beginning a new journey. So I began to look for some architectural competitions to submit work to and I found one for an organization called 'Architecture for Humanity' where you had to design an autonomous mobile clinic that could be setup in the most remote locations in Africa to treat people with diseases and health problems. I remember working on it as much as I could. Even the day before the submission I pulled an all-nighter reminiscent of the college days. I worked with my graphic designer friend to make a single board with a multi-layer sandwich of vellum and printed clear film. As you turned each page, a layer of the mobile truck was peeled away revealing the key components of the structure and utilities. Though my design was not selected, this experience gave me huge gust of wind in my sails. It was the tornado in the Wizard of Oz that brought me to the beginning of that yellow brick road. I was already convinced that a career in architecture was not for me so I decided to make something that was- and so Bivouac was born.

This year I have come up with several ambitious goals and while I cannot disclose them just yet, you will begin to slowly see them as the year progresses. Basically, it is just more of everything. You are going to love it.

Keep listening.


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