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When pop-art visionary Andy Warhol launched his celebrated magazine Interview in 1969, little did he know that almost half a century later, the publication would be maintaining its hip reputation. Chock full of heady conversations about art, music, film, fashion and pop culture between unlikely celebrity pairings, Interview's editorial lineup has been shepherded by some journalistic greats, such as the legendary Bob Colacello and the late Ingrid Sischy. This past February, Nick Haramis, an engaging, young Canadian-born and McGill-educated journalist, was named the new editor-in-chief, and he couldn't be prouder. I spoke with the 34-year-old former articles editor of T: The New York Times Style magazine, about his penchant for print, the allure of unexpected exchanges and how a kid from Cornwall, Ont., ended up editing what many still deem to be such an iconic publication.

Interview was always the bible of cool for me. What was it to you, growing up in Cornwall, Ont.?

Growing up in a small paper-mill town, there wasn't tons of access to the types of art and culture that I was really interested in. I had these delusions of grandeur that one day that would be my life – whether it was experiencing it through watching a film, or reading a magazine or reading a book. For me, the go-to magazine was always Interview. With some of those other cool downtown magazines, you were a reader looking from the outside in. But with Interview, you always felt like you were eavesdropping on a conversation. Growing up, I read it religiously and have since. When I was asked to come over here, it felt like a dream come true because, as it was for you, it was a bible of sorts for me.

Were you eager to get to New York as soon as you could once you graduated? What followed?

I was. The morning after graduation, after pulling an all-nighter with my friends to celebrate having gotten our degrees, my father drove me down to New York. I'd found a place on Craigslist and I had an internship at a magazine called BlackBook. That was as far as the plan went. I started as an intern and quickly but incrementally moved up, and by the time I was done there, I was the top editor, overseeing the website and producing the magazine. Five years into my time at BlackBook a new magazine started called Bullett – a quarterly that was younger and more downtown than what BlackBook was doing. Everything I learned at BlackBook I unlearned from working with these really young, creative people who had no idea what they were doing. So we were making up the rules of how to make a magazine as we went. When the New York Times asked me to come over, I was thrilled about the idea and humbled to even think that I would ever work there. I went to the White House to meet Michelle Obama, I travelled to India with Aziz Ansari, to Shanghai with Michael Kors and was just able to do such incredible, exhilarating stuff there. Then Interview asked me to come over.

It's wonderful to think that you're injecting new life and continued creativity into a medium that some thought may be going the way of the dodo. How do you feel about the magazine business in general and its potential in this digital age?

Every platform that every publication has is as important to the conversation. When websites started to become the way that people were consuming journalism, there was obviously hesitation on the part of print editors to either contribute or try and think about ways to package those stories that either did appear in print or didn't online. I think people are now coming around to realizing they're all a part of the conversation and that one doesn't negate the other. There are different ways that you can tell the same story across platforms. For me, it's nothing but exciting. Nothing replaces the experience of holding a magazine in your hand and taking it with you on a plane or on a beach and really being able to sit there and consume it in a way that you don't consume a story on the Internet.

We converse with each other in so many more ways now than we did back when Interview first started. Would you say the art of conversation has changed? And, if so, how?

I think it's very clearly truncated. The digital world has done a lot to make that happen. One of the special things about Interview and also The Paris Review is that there's a reverence for the art of the interview. We don't want to edit something down to a sound bite. We want to give the conversation space to breathe. I don't think you're getting that elsewhere. A lot of people are quick to edit down to the most palatable, punchy version of a conversation. There's a reason that people do that because it's enjoyable to read, but I think it loses a little bit of the nuance and the back and forth that our interviews have that are published in the magazine and online. The magazine was predicated on this idea that you would bring together two pals or people who wanted to become friends to talk about stuff that wasn't necessarily promoting a specific project. Of course, I understand that the industry has changed, but I'm not so interested in a conversation between a filmmaker and an actor from the same project set up by a studio so that we can solely promote and sell movie tickets. There's something really nice about bringing together people who have never met. I'm also interested in a bit of friction in the conversation.

I hope that going forward, we can bring together people who might have opposing viewpoints on something and that they can actually have a real conversation about a real thing, rather than just navel gazing.

In the old days, you looked at the cover of Interview and knew immediately what was hot and who the celebrity of the moment was. But these days, there are so many different messages coming at us. Is it harder to keep on the leading edge today than it would have been back in Warhol's day, or when Ingrid Sischy was editing the magazine?

That's funny that you mention Ingrid, because she could do no wrong when she was the editor. She was always in keeping with the age of Warhol in that everyone was confident about how cool they were and how cool the subjects of their magazine were. It didn't need to feel aloof or icy. It could feel goofy and there was a sense of humour. There was an embrace of camp. They maybe lack a little bit of that in other cutting-edge magazines now. The way we can differentiate ourselves going forward is to look back and embrace the realization that we're putting amazingly talented people out there, many who are really fashion forward but also have a personality, and can laugh at themselves. That is something that I would love to strive for.

So it's not necessarily always about the hottest thing coming down the pipeline. Sometimes, it's a fond look back at what came before?

Well, we recently released our April issue cover and Michelle Pfeiffer is on it. She's certainly not the next ingénue, but what an amazing woman, what an incredible actress and how cool to be able to support someone who I think people haven't really read about or seen that much about in a while. I think she's going to have a really big year. Embracing a sort of timeless cool is more important to me than trying to figure out what's the next thing for the next 15 minutes.

How Canadian do you feel at this particular point in time?

More Canadian than I've ever felt.

Why is that?

It's funny. Just recently, about a year ago, I got my green card after juggling between jobs from visa to visa. It was a really difficult process. And aside from the odd sort of Canadian inflection coming through in the words that I say, I've been pretty good about becoming a part of the fabric of New York or being a New Yorker. But a few months after I got my green card, the whole thing changed politically here. So there's an irony in the timing. But I've always been a very proud Canadian. My family's based in Toronto, so I go back to either Toronto or Cornwall pretty regularly.

Do you find it unusual that a Canadian would be doing this job – a job that has so much to do with helping to define and analyze pop culture in America?

I guess so. But the magazine's always been international in scope, though there's never been anything overtly political or politicized about it or the people in it. It's a much more subtle and therefore much more powerful type of politics to celebrate and champion all different kinds of people from all different walks of life and all different mediums. Whether or not I'm Canadian, I think it's important and exciting work

What do you think the Canadian perspective has done for you in your career as an editor?

I don't know. I think part of the thing that has always stuck with me is the stereotype of Canadians being a polite group of people. As far as getting promotions or moving to bigger magazines or whatever, I've always done so with the guideline of being fair and kind to people. I think that that's something that I got very specifically from my Canadian upbringing.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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