We asked Stephen Dima, Talent Buyer and Head of Production for 4Knots, about his work preparing for NYC’s upcoming 4Knots Music Festival, happening on July 12, 2014 at the South Street Seaport.
The lineup includes bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Those Darlins, Speedy Ortiz, and Dead Stars.
After The Show: I love that 4Knots showcases emerging/indie bands and helps them increase their fan base. How involved are you in marketing the event and bringing in audiences?
Stephen Dima: I’m not in charge of marketing specifically, but I love bands and set out to program 4Knots in a way that would appeal to The Village Voice’s audience. If there is a great band on the lineup, the marketing is inherently there, and The Village Voice is amazing with marketing the festival, the bands and the programming.
Why choose Webster Hall as opposed to a venue like Bowery Ballroom as the host of the Official After-Party?
Everyone involved loves both venues, The Village Voice wanted to go bigger this year in terms of capacity.
Can you describe a typical day or week in your job? How much of your time running Dima Productions is spent on music-centric events, as opposed to producing events like the New York Comedy Festival or Children’s Day?
Every production/event requires something slightly different and unique, so there is not really a typical day at Dima Productions (unless you count drinking lots of coffee and listening to great music to stay sane). The majority of the events are music centric, though, so I guess that’s where we spend most of our time.
I came to 4Knots in July 2012 to see Hospitality play, and their set was interrupted when a big fire erupted on the pier behind them! As the promoter and producer, how do you deal with emergencies? What kinds of contingency plans do you have in place?
First and foremost work with a really good security service, one that you trust and have great communication with. Also having a good relationship with the NYPD and FDNY works. They were amazing that day honestly. We basically evacuated 10,000 people from a mall and then continued on with the festival. You don’t see that a lot.
It’s interesting how you said that you can take a lot more chances if you’re putting on free shows. Why did you initially choose to make 4Knots free, and given the large audiences that show up, why keep it free?
With my history of free summer shows in NY and The Village Voice’s own history with Siren, etc. making 4Knots free just made sense. It was a perfect marriage of people who love to bring great bands to the masses, and I hope we keep it that way. And yes, of course you can take a lot more chances with free shows but you still have to be smart about it, hopefully!
How much of your job is dealing with permits and city ordinances? Is working out the bureaucracy/logistics less enjoyable than picking and booking bands?
I try to spend way more time thinking about bands but to be perfectly honest, working with the city and the community to develop a strong and solid relationship has definitely had it’s rewards. I’ve learned a lot over the years and have met some very good people. NY loves to put on a show.
What was your favorite concert that you put on at the World Trade Center, pre-September 11th?
There were some really great ones (The Box Tops with the late Alex Chilton, NRBQ, the Latin shows that we did on Friday nights were really exciting) but hands down my favorite was Dave Davies of the Kinks playing a lunchtime show to 10,000 people on the plaza. I still meet people who say they were at that show. I remember he did “Father Christmas” as an encore, it was August. That was just a few short weeks before September 11.
As a curator of live shows, what do you think about other methods of curation, such as Spotify playlists or blogs? Why are you drawn to the live/outdoors/real life aspect of music?
I’m not too keen on the whole Spotify, Pandora thing honestly. I mean if you own a restaurant I’m sure it comes in handy but if I’m sitting at my computer it wouldn’t be my preferred way of finding new music. Blogs on the other hand have been the lifeblood of what I’ve done over the years.
I started outside with live music at the Trade Center and then the Seaport. It seems to be where I am most comfortable. There’s something a bit more magical outside – summer, tall buildings, ships, water, nighttime sky, great bands. Makes me want to be there now.
Thanks Stephen! Click here for more info on the 4Knots Music Festival.