Do you remember your first week in New York?
It was Welcome Week at NYU. I knew nobody coming here, so the first week was full of exploration.
Where did you come from?
Ohio. My parents are from the area but my grandma lived in New Jersey when I was growing up so I spent a lot of time here. I always wanted to end up here. I just didn’t know how!
So I ended up doing a double major in journalism. There was no other second major that I really wanted to commit myself to so I ended up doing this self-designed honors major in photography and art history. It’s a four-year degree.
So you’re fresh out of college?
Yeah, I am a year out but I was working a lot while I was still studying, which is how I was able to go straight into working.
And you’re at Interview Magazine now?
Yes. I interned there during school and then as soon as I was done I started freelancing in the office and a job opened up in the art and music section of the site.
I am the associate online editor. I handle the art, music and nightlife sections. I work out what we’re going to run, who we’re going to feature, whether I’m going to do a story myself or is it going to be a talent on talent interview and I’ll moderate those.
Some weeks I’ll be in the office uploading images and writing stories and other weeks I’ll be out and about interviewing bands and artists.
Is this the sort of journalism you see yourself staying in?
Music and art are definitely my passions. I’d say I’m better versed in art, I understand it a lot more, but they are both areas I want to keep exploring.
I’d love to do more criticism of art somewhere down the line. I wouldn’t want to do that now because I don’t think I’m as knowledgeable as someone who’s writing serious criticism should be, in my opinion.
Have you had any surreal moments doing your job?
I went to Venice for a week for the opening of the Biennale. To be there at the age of 23 was insane because it’s usually only editors-in-chief and senior editors that attend. Being surrounded by all these world-renowned artists was incredible.
I interviewed Sean Scully there and we got along really well. He mentioned this studio that he’s building in upstate and he invited me to come see it when we were both back in New York. I thought he was just saying that but then when I got back I got an email from his studio and they sent a car to come pick me up and take me to his studio upstate.
You’re living the dream!
Since you wanted to live here for so long, did it live up to your expectations?
Definitely. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t gone to school here and because of the opportunities you have in New York, and the people you meet, the creativity you’re surrounded by. It’s the lifestyle.
There’s something motivational about being here. The energy drives you to work but the work doesn’t feel like work because you’re loving what you’re doing.
I didn’t have that in Ohio. It was a great place to grow up. I had a really great upbringing but it was time to fly. [Laughs]
Do you have any desire to go back?
I would never go back but I wouldn’t mind living somewhere abroad for a while. Probably Berlin, I know that sounds pretty cliché but there’s a lot of opportunities there in the art world.
What do you think about living in Bed-Stuy?
I love living here. It’s been hilarious how much it has changed over the years. The grocery store has changed so much. They didn’t have granola, they had very slim pickings of Greek yoghurt, no coconut water, nothing organic. Now, it’s all there!
Do you have any favorite spots in the neighborhood?
Kava Shteeble is great. The owner is also a woodworker so he did all the insides from reclaimed wood and there’s a backyard with board games and stuff.
There’s a really nice cocktail place called Sunrise/Sunset.
Happyfun Hideaway is fantastic. It’s really a shitty dive bar but it’s awesome.
There’s a restaurant called Saraghina that I like. It has really nice atmosphere.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give?
I always go back to this Goethe quote, “We are shaped and fashioned by the things we love”. I think if you follow that then you’re going to get to where you want to be. Even if you don’t necessarily know where you want to be.
Where’s your favorite place in New York to take out-of-towners?
If somebody wants to go thrift shopping there’s a place on Starr Street in Bushwick called Green Village that’s just this giant warehouse. It’s a great place to go that’s kind of off the beaten path.
I love going to Prospect Park, especially in the summer for their concerts. I usually bring a picnic with my friends and sit behind the band shell so you can still hear the music but you’re not dealing with the crowds.
There’s a bar in Williamsburg called Skinny Dennis that I love. They have these frozen coffee drinks that are my favorite.
The rooftop of The McKittrick Hotel is a good one too. It’s nice and fancy. For brunch in the summer it’s fantastic and there’s live jazz. Then in the winter they transform it into this log cabin.
What does New York mean to you?
It’s the people and creativity. The inspiration you find in others here.
Learn more about Emily at emilymcdermott.com.