Q & A with Allah-Las and Reverberation Radio Management Coordinator Daria Khovanova
Daria Khovanova probably has one of the coolest jobs ever. From going on tour with bands, such as Allah-Las, and attending some of the raddest music festivals around the world, to organizing the incredibly popular monthly Reverberation Radio night at Zebulon, one of the hippest music venues on the Los Angeles East Side, Daria is the girl you want working behind the scenes to make the show go off without a hitch.
As the management coordinator at Tiki Rocket, the umbrella company for the LA-based garage surf-rock revivalist band Allah-Las, and Reverberation Radio, a close-knit group of record collectors that the Allah-Las’ members are also a part of, Daria does everything from securing endorsements from major companies like Ortofon and Marshall so bands and DJs have the best music equipment to organizing events and collaborations such as the Billabong Gallery x Reverberation Radio Tiki Party, and stepping in regularly as a tour manager and production manager. She even curated the films for the first ever “Oh So Slow” festival in Bali earlier this year.
Needless to say, she is one busy woman, but somehow I got lucky enough to catch up with her for an interview on how she got to where she is today and to find out what being a management coordinator in the modern music industry is all about!
Hey Daria, thanks for joining me!
Can you start off by telling us where you are from?
DK: I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia.
Did you know early on that you would work in the music industry?
DK: I was hoping I would. The truth is, I was never inspired by the music industry back home in Russia. There were no bands I was excited about, most of them came from abroad. So I started travelling to Europe early on to go to shows and music festivals, while also seeking out any book I could find in the vein of “How To Make It In The Music Industry.” This was pre-Internet, mind you.
How did you come to discover that working as a management coordinator was the career for you?
DK: Working as a management coordinator happened to me organically. I was trying my hand in all aspects of the music business, trying to figure out what it was that I enjoyed doing the most. That’s where the internships I did came in handy. As did the Music Business course I took at UCLA, which allowed me to explore all areas of my chosen field.
The truth is I never found the music business in Russia that exciting. It’s very sparse, and not many artists I like play there and when they do it’s too much of a big deal, so I steered away from trying to make a career in it and instead chose other creative fields, like fashion and art, while still traveling and making sure I saw as much live music as I could by attending music festivals like SXSW, Primavera in Spain, Lollapalooza Berlin, Pukkelpop in Belgium etc.
Where did you intern and how did those jobs prepare you for what you do today? Was it tough being in an intern or do you feel like you were treated pretty well?
DK: Being an intern was exciting. I managed to secure an intern position at Monotone, a management company run by Ian Montone that has a pretty amazing artist roster, including Jack White, The Kills, LCD Soundsystem, The Shins, Vampire Weekend. I got to immerse myself in the progressive work environment and got to be part of an industry-leading team. Just by sitting
in at management meetings you expose yourself to a lot of facets of the industry, which, in a way, helps you ease your way in. It definitely prepares you for the diversity of tasks and challenges you’re likely to face as a manager or management coordinator. It made me eager to dive in and do it myself, the internship gave me the confidence in my abilities and confirmed my desire to stick to my chosen field.
When did you first begin working with the Allah-Las and how did the relationship come about?
We met at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas through mutual Angeleno friends, now based in Berlin. Stayed in touch, crossed paths many times in Europe and Russia. So working with them was an organic extension of an established relationship. It came about around October 2017.
What exactly do you do as an artist’s management coordinator?
DK: As an artist’s management coordinator you wear many hats, and that’s what I enjoy the most. There’s never a dull moment. I realized a long time ago that when it came to working in music I didn’t want to be stuck in the office. Maintaining personal contact with the artist is of great importance to me, and something I think the artist appreciates also, at least the ones I’m working with. It’s important to be in it together, to share adventures together and to grow a bond. It means that you’re always on the same page, you share the same, or at least a similar, sense of aesthetic, and can anticipate what they would and wouldn’t be into when making strategic decisions. But back to the many hats.
A lot of the job, of course, still has to do with communicating via email, whether it be reaching out to brands for endorsement opportunities like Ortofon and Marshall, negotiating the details of upcoming projects, deciding whether or not the band would like to pursue offers of playing festivals in remote and exotic locations, compiling playlists and making voice overs, like the Reverberation Radio show on Dublab, managing social media channels, curating events, like the film part of the Music, Art & Film festival “Oh So Slow” in Bali. And stepping in as a Tour Manager and Production Manager when needed, arranging interviews, photoshoots, working on collabs with clothing brands, like the Billabong x Reverberation Radio release, and developing merch ideas. The list is diverse.
What do you think are the most important skills for a management coordinator to have?
DK: Being able to juggle a lot of things at once, so being able to prioritize. Assertiveness and the ability to act as a mediator, when needed, and a good sense of humor doesn’t go amiss either. It’s all about working with people, and creative people often have big egos, so people skills are a big part of it.
What is it that sets you apart from others and makes you so good at what you do?
DK: My passion for music and the appreciation of the fact that I’m doing what I’d always dreamt that I would be doing, even if it came later in life, and where I get to be doing it. I think that gives me extra motivation and eagerness. I feel grateful to be working with the people I like.
What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
DK: The diverse nature of the job. Getting to travel, to see new places and meet new people, and getting a kick out of seeing everything run smoothly and audiences having a good time at the show. Plus the diversity of venues the band gets to play at — who would’ve thought you’d find yourself in a situation where you’re helping set up a show outdoors at the Getty Center with the most incredible views, surrounded by art? Or setting up a show at the beach, or a DJ set on a Tiki Boat… yes, that last one also happened.
Can you tell us about some of the more challenging aspects of your work? How do you handle those challenges?
DK: Not having enough hours in the day, often juggling and working on the go. You get used to it though and become better at multitasking. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you think you’ll stick to being a management coordinator in the music world, or do you plan to branch out to other fields at some point?
DK: Because it embraces so many aspects of the music world, I can definitely see myself sticking with it for a while. However, I’d like to explore the potential of providing music curation services to businesses, and music supervision is also something I’ve been intrigued by for a while.