Category: Interviews

School of Rock Changed Joe’s Life Forever

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2022

BUSTLE – The 2003 film’s joyful take on learning to play music inspired the Stranger Things star to pick up instruments and make music as Djo.

When Joe Keery played his first Lollapalooza set this summer as his wig-wearing musical alter ego Djo, he brought a memento on stage. “My dad gave me this great photo of him on his 30th birthday holding me,” the Stranger Things star tells Bustle at a rooftop bar in downtown Chicago the day after his set. Seeing it taped next to his pedalboard while performing grounded him. “I was playing, looking down, and seeing this little picture. I’ve never allowed myself to be comfortable like that. It was a way to be like, ‘Oh, I feel a little bit more at home.’”

The past six years have been a whirlwind for 30-year-old Keery, whose turn as heartthrob Steve Harrington in Stranger Things made him a literal overnight sensation in 2016. Four seasons in, the Netflix’s series fandom is as rabid as ever: A fan at Keery’s Lollapalooza show carried a poster that read, “Listening to Djo keeps Vecna away,” a reference to Stranger Things’ latest monster.

Unassuming in his tattered shirt and generous with the bear hugs that bookend our conversation, Keery admits that releasing music after initially gaining popularity as an actor in a hit Netflix show is a double-edged sword. “I was pretty insecure about it,” he says over a plate of raw oysters. Though he’d been making music with the band Post Animal since 2014, it was only after he got the Netflix gig that he decided to go solo, releasing his debut album as Djo in 2019 and his sophomore album Decide on Sept. 16. “You want people to listen to the music and have an open mind. But it’s not lost on me that the majority of people are coming because they know of my work on the show and they’re interested to see what it’s all about.”

The pseudonym — pronounced “Joe” — is Keery’s way of distancing himself from the show. Djo’s synth pop track “On And On” describes “the feeling of general doom and gloom and my relationship with social media and the Internet,” says Keery, who escapes Stranger Things madness and online noise by occasionally disabling his social accounts or blasting Djo’s songs in his car. “I like to drive and listen to music, so I’ve listened to this album a lot when I was driving,” he says. Get to know more about Keery’s musical influences — including his favorite Beatle — below.
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Joe Keery’s Saturn Return as DJO

Thursday, Sep 15, 2022

SPIN – The ‘Stranger Things’ actor and indie rocker on his new album ‘DECIDE,’ ties to the Chicago music scene and why he’ll never be a full-time musician

It’s just after midnight and Chicago’s Bottom Lounge is packed. Some kids are wearing ‘Hellfire’ merch shirts, referring to the fictional Dungeons and Dragons club from Netflix’s multi-Emmy nominated thriller Stranger Things. It’s the rare occasion where love for a TV show spills into support for a real band — Joe Keery’s psychedelic rock project called DJO (pronounced “Joe.”) At that moment, Keery, who plays heartthrob-with-a-heart of gold Steve Harrington on the series, steps onto the stage looking like the antithesis of his character in wiry glasses and matted brown hair. The room erupts.

Before Stranger Things swept him up to Los Angeles, Keery lived in Chicago until 2018. Before fame, he was somewhat of a fixture in the Chicago DIY scene, performing in an indie band called Post Animal by night while hustling for acting gigs by day. But as much as his life changed over the course of three years, Keery never abandoned his passion for making music.

In 2019, Keery released a standalone track called “Roddy”  with keyboardist Adam Thein, under the pseudonym DJO. Their first album, Twenty Twenty arrived that fall, amassing a few hundred thousand monthly listeners. But since Season Four’s return, DJO’s listeners have more than quintupled to a whopping 2.6 million monthly listeners. The boom has led to prime music festival placements at Lollapalooza, Boston Calling, See.Hear.Now and Austin City Limits to tease a highly anticipated sophomore album, DECIDE (out September 16).

The morning after DJO’s first Lolla set, Keery was sitting in the corner of a restaurant at the Chicago Athletic Association with the remnants of a Bloody Mary in front of him. As we looked out onto Millennium Park, he sounded nostalgic. “Coming to Chicago is like location memory,” Keery says between sips of an iced coffee. “I remember touring DePaul with my dad, we stayed down here, and we walked through Millennium Park.”
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W Magazine Interview

Monday, Sep 12, 2022

Joe Keery Leans Into Nostalgia as His Alter Ego, Djo

The word is out: the Stranger Things star has a musical moniker and an upcoming sophomore album.
by Hannah Jackson

W MAGAZINE – The morning after Joe Keery’s set at Lollapalooza, the musician and actor is in the mood to celebrate. Sprawled out on a couch at the Chicago Athletic Association, he raises his eyebrows suggestively. “I could go for a Bloody Mary,” he says, glancing around to see who can be goaded to drink before lunch. And thus, a round of drinks appear.

Keery is hardwired with the Midwestern friendliness he absorbed during his time as a student at DePaul University in Chicago, where the music festival took place in July. (We spend a chunk of our allotted time together talking about beloved dive bars in our shared northside neighborhood and the absurdities of high school theater.) Between his unshakable eye contact and reciprocal conversation, it’s easy to forget that he is a global sensation thanks to his role as Steve Harrington on Stranger Things—that is, of course, until he clocks a gaggle of indiscreet fans on the hotel balcony and seamlessly lowers his sunglasses over his eyes.

Summer has been busy for Keery, who celebrated the release of Stranger Things season four and his inaugural Lollapalooza performance. But while the seasons transition, Keery finds he is just getting started. His sophomore album, the psychedelic confection Decide, which he is releasing under his moniker Djo, is out September 16th. Below, Keery talks with W about nostalgia, musical influences, and the many Geminis in his life.
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Joe for Billboard

Friday, Aug 26, 2022

Joe Keery Is Turning Expectations Upside Down With Music Project Djo

BILLBOARD – With second album ‘Decide’ out Sept. 16, the ‘Stranger Things’ star will reach new heights in his musical career, too.

When Joe Keery performs as his musical solo project, Djo, he looks nothing like the character that millions of TV watchers have come to know — and that’s the point.

If not for an all-caps sign in the Lollapalooza crowd that read “Listening To Djo All Day Keeps Vecna Away,” for instance, festivalgoers likely wouldn’t have been quick to associate the artist with a shaggy wig, glasses and stark-white painter’s jumpsuit onstage with Steve Harrington, the bully turned beloved chaperone from ­Netflix’s Stranger Things.

In addition to his prominent role in the worldwide phenomenon, Keery, 30, has recently starred in Free Guy and Spree as he has simultaneously reached new heights in his acting career. Currently, he’s working on a project in Italy, ahead of a few others coming in the fall. But that’s Joe Keery, the actor. Joe Keery, the musician — Djo — is its own separate entity. There’s hardly a trace of the everyday Keery, and no mention of characters associated with a film career, on Djo’s social media accounts or digital service provider profiles.

“There’s a level of comfort being in this alternate look, where I feel more free to do what I want,” he says. “I think about David Bowie or Marc Bolan dressing up. Devo is another great example. Something that started off with that intention has opened this door to make me realize that it can be more than just that.”
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Joe Keery is Ready for His Next Chapter

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Leaving ‘Stranger Things’ Behind

THE DAILY BEAST – Playing crush-worthy teen Steve on the Netflix hit turned Keery into a star. With the final season coming, he’s ready for a new phase: a brand-new album as his music persona, DJO.

Joe Keery won’t stop talking about Stanley Tucci. We’re 20 minutes into our coffee in the Lower East Side, and because the Tooch is one of my favorite topics of conversation as well, it physically pains me to steer the conversation back on track.

Directing. Let’s talk about directing. We were talking about getting behind the camera when Keery began to gush over Tucci, whose 1996 movie Big Night inspired the young Stranger Things actor to pursue filmmaking. Then, there’s Tucci’s new memoir, Taste, a mix of recipes and autobiography, which has brought Keery to the idea of a cookbook-album concoction—as in maybe one day, somehow, creating a project that blends recipes and his music.

“Well, not a cookbook,” Keery says. “How can you blend genres? What he does there, in a really great way, is: How do you blend a cookbook and a story about your life? Nobody’s done that in the same way, not that I have read.” (As a devoted rom-com lover, I tell him to read Heartburn by Nora Ephron.)

Keery rattles off a long list of movies he’d like to make one day. A moving family affair like Big Night. An original adventure movie. Or even a sizzling thriller like Nightcrawler. I tell him to combine all three for something original—genre-blending like Taste—and he seems eager for the challenge.

Still, as exciting as this all is, and as hyped as I am about Keery’s passion to direct, we’re here to talk about his new album DECIDE—yes, the popular actor makes music, too—and Stranger Things.

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What Joe Keery is Really Thinking When You Ask For A Selfie

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018

What ‘Stranger Things’ Star Joe Keery Is Really Thinking When You Ask For A Selfie
BUSTLEJoe Keery is me. Joe Keery is goooooaaaals. Joe Keery is the best mother to four pre-teen misfits this side of reality. If you’ve been on Tumblr in the last three months, you probably know Steve Harrington’s Stranger Things Season 2 arc has turned 25-year-old actor Joe Keery into a magnet for memeification. He’s become someone who can simply pose for a quick on-set snapchat photo with a dog and “champagne” and become synonymous with #goals or do his job well and end up with a Wikipedia page that indicates he’s a parent of four (people are just really into this Steve Harrington as surrogate mom to the Stranger Things kids, OK?). But in reality, Keery is just a dude who’s trying to figure out how to find time to create music between seasons of the Netflix smash, and who’s still puzzled as to why everyone is so obsessed with editing his face onto the cover of the Babysitter’s Club books.

“It’s wild, it’s crazy, it’s so weird,” he says, speaking to me at Bustle HQ with such genuine disbelief that you’d almost think he’d been body-swapped into the life of a celebrity. “It’s become a lifestyle?” he asks, referring to the viral dog photo (it was originally screen-grabbed from co-star Finn Wolfhard’s Snapchat). “This is just me, this is like how I am. It’s like geez, I was just doing it for fun.” But as Keery tells it, he probably should have seen this new wave of fandom coming — after all, his mom actually liked his character this season.
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