02/09/2011 05:08 BST | Updated 28/10/2011 06:12 BST

A Conversation With Simon Hammerstein - The Brains Behind The Box

The most talked about venue in London for 2011 has, without a doubt, been The Box. The opening of the venue was rumoured back in January on KARLISMYUNKLE and it finally launched in February with unparalleled levels of buzz, despite the fact that traditional media were denied entry to the venue.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with the brains behind the bespoke, concept venue - Simon Hammerstein - when BELVEDERE(RED) collaborated with The Box for a pop up launch in LA this week.


[Photo James D. Kelly]

So tonight marked a pop-up collaboration in LA between your esteemed club brand, The Box and (BELVEDERE)RED for the launch of their Special Edition Bottle. Is this the first time The Box has come to LA? What did tonight's guest have in store?

Belvedere Vodka approached us to do a show before the MTV Video Music Awards to celebrate the launch of (BELVEDERE)RED and we thought it was a brilliant idea for a wonderful cause. This is the first time we have done a show in LA. We are excited to be here. I definitely cannot say what the guests are going to see, they will all have to see when they get there!

Who are your pop cultural inspirations, living or dead? If you could have them come to The Box for one night only, what would you want them to do?

Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra are my cultural inspirations. If I could have any guest come to The Box, it would be Houdini, Will Rogers and WC Fields and all the great vaudevillians if they could come back. I would certainly make room in our show.

Did you have to fly talent in from NY and London specifically for tonight? Are there any new acts that are LA-based on the roster?

We flew acts in from all over the world, a couple from Europe, Japan and two or three are actually from California originally.

Have you been talent scouting whilst you are out here?

Not yet but maybe at Burning Man.

Do you scour the world for trends and progressive/breakthrough performance artists on an ongoing basis?

It's not so much about trends for us but we are always looking for new acts, not produced before and seeing how we could work them into the show.

As you pioneered The Box in NYC and London (both hugely open-minded cities), have you had to tailor the performance artists for different audiences? What are the biggest cultural differences that you've had to adhere to?

You have to work on acts for a long time, whether they come from a modern dance, theatre or circus background hey are very disciplined and they can be apprehensive about tweaking to fit into our show. However, if we are stubborn enough to break them for one show then they are usually converted for life! LA has a huge culture in arts and performing arts but we do not change or tailor the show for a local audience, we have taken the show all over the world to Shanghai, Russia, Ibiza and Cannes and rather than pandering to local audiences we like to make sure we do the best show we can do.

As a brand The Box has always been shrouded in mystery to the "general public". Do you think that this is a sustainable business model? Do you feel that you consistently have to out-do yourself to maintain the word-of-mouth buzz over the course of years?

We have to keep it constantly fresh so people come back, we have a lot of repeat business so it is important we change it up, this is our job and it is what we have to do.

Finally, if you had to summarise your brand ethos in three words, what would they be?

Well... we like to keep everyone on their toes and we should always put out a show we are proud of.

Written by pop culture expert and brand strategist Nik Thakkar of KARLISMYUNKLE, follow Nik on Twitter @nikthakkar