Nylon.com – When it comes to celebrity profiles, there’s a storied tradition of reporting fastidiously on what the subject — most typically, a young female actress on the rise — eats during the journalist’s allotted time with them. Do they pick nervously at an undressed salad (predictable) or ravenously tear into a burger (relatable)? No detail is left spared from print. Thankfully, this troupe has faded over the years, as we learn that what one person chooses to eat at one meal of their life does not often reveal some great detail into their psyche.
When we meet for a late lunch in mid-August, Joe Keery orders deviled eggs for the table. There’s no thesis statement to be made of this; it just stuck with me long after our lunch was over — when’s the last time you saw someone order deviled eggs at a restaurant? (They were delicious, for the record.) It was a part of a larger spread that, for two people, included fries, tuna tartare, two different salads, and an avocado tartine. There was a lot of food because there was a lot to talk about.
At the time, the actor, who turned 30 earlier this year, released Decide, his second studio album under the stage name Djo (pronounced Joe). It’s a trippy, wide-ranging album with influences that span from Devo to Charli XCX. The project sees Keery leave behind the floppy-haired all-American persona that made him a star as Steve on Stranger Things in favor of a shaggy ‘70s style ‘do and tinted sunglasses — think Miami Vice meets Boogie Nights meets a used car salesman. That’s the point here: Steve is for the internet; Djo is whatever you want it to be.
I know you’re only in town for a few days. How long have you been in LA now?
Man, like five years. Almost six years. Since 2017… It’s a nice place to live. It’s kind of a really relaxed pace of life. It can be less social, if you’re looking for it. If you’re not open, it can be difficult, but it’s also access to all sorts of nature and easy trips.
I was just in Portland, Oregon, for a wedding. It was up in the mountains, which was gorgeous — weirdly, at the hotel where exteriors of The Shining were filmed.
That’s really cool. There’s a documentary, Room 237, that talks about the inconsistencies of the floor plan for the exterior and the interior, and how that’s symbolic in some way of what he was trying to say in the movie. Man, what a great movie. It took me a while to watch that movie, to get the courage.
Same. I think I watched it for the first time like five years ago.
Great music. Talk about that music. The opening scene of that movie is so cool.
Have you ever thought about scoring a movie, really combine your two arts?
Yeah. I would love to do it, but I don’t know if I have what it takes.continue reading
DIYMag.com – Joe Keery’s already won the hearts of the world on screen, and with second album ‘DECIDE’, his alter-ego Djo is aiming to do the same on the musical stage.
Koe Keery is explaining his alter ego Djo (pronounced Joe): the lank-haired ‘70s businessman in a big suit, wheeling through an even bigger Rolodex. “It’s just sort of a vehicle for me to not have to be myself…” he suggests. Fans of the global superstar actor’s musical pursuits will have become familiar with this version of Keery who first emerged last year ahead of the release of his debut solo album, ‘Twenty Twenty’, a psych-rock record that proved his musical chops.
“It started because the concept for the last album was this guy listening to this record as a pre-show ritual,” he explains of the character. “And then it ends right before he goes on stage. But now it’s kind of taken a different thing; I guess on stage it frees you up a little bit. I also really love like, David Bowie and those glam rock guys. So playing some sort of character allows you to be maybe a little bit larger than yourself. And it went hand in hand with also trying to take away any preconceived notions people might have because they see the guy from the show up there. I’m kind of always like, ‘Is this something I still want to do or not?’ But it’s continued so far, and it’s been fun to do.”
The show Keery refers to is, of course, monster success story Stranger Things, in which he plays the loveable Steve Harrington. Steve is on hiatus right now, but Djo is back again for second album ‘DECIDE’ – 13 snaky synth-pop tracks that borrow from influences such as Daft Punk, Tame Impala and The Strokes. Whatever Djo does out of office hours sounds like a lot of fun.
Today, we’re chatting with Keery over Zoom. He’s in Rome, on a break from filming Finalmente L’Alba, a new Saverio Costanzo movie co-starring Willem Defoe and Lily James. There’s no sign of his on-stage persona today: the wig’s gone, and he’s sat in his kitchen chomping on a cracker, sporting a Faux Real sweatshirt – merch for the English synth pop band who feel very much in both Joe and Djo’s wheelhouse. His hair looks great.
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Flood Magazine – In our latest digital cover story, the Stranger Things star shares how his creative processes for songwriting and acting overlap, as well as how his second solo LP DECIDE was inspired by a need for change.
Joe Keery wants to go back to a certain golden age of music. No phones or collabs over Zoom—just himself, studio musicians, and producers wizarding over a massive stripboard, confined to a studio for a few weeks with the challenge of throwing ideas to the wall and seeing what sticks. “It would be nice to see how a different environment affects the music you’re making,” he tells me over Zoom of his dream studio locale: Paris. He sits in front of a royal blue velvet couch as he envisions how he wants to challenge himself with making music in the future.
He invokes a romanticized pressure cooker situation where one is forced to follow their creative intuition in a single studio for a short number of weeks. “Constraints are not necessarily bad,” he says. “Having some outside pressures can be good creatively, because you’re forced to make decisions.” A second passes before a soft smile begins to take shape across his face: A cheesy full-circle moment is about to take place, and he realizes this before the words fly out of my mouth. “You’re forced to decide,” I say, smirking at the namedrop of the album he’s promoting for this interview. “Deciiiiiide,” he says in a sing-songy voice before flailing his arms around in a circle.
Calling in from Rome, I catch Keery right before he’s about to go back on set for a new movie he’s working on, acting alongside Willem Dafoe and Lily James. Keery is most known for his acting career, starring in Stranger Things as Steve Harrington and showing his range with comedies like 2021’s Free Guy and thriller-horror films like 2020’s Spree. Although acting has brought him stardom, dethroning Robert Pattinson as Hollywood’s new hair king isn’t his only creative pursuit.
Before Joe Keery was a household name, he gained familiarity in the Chicago music scene playing in the meditative psych-rock group Post Animal. In 2019, it was officially revealed that Keery had parted ways with the band due to scheduling conflicts and the rise of his acting career. Later that year, he released his first single “Roddy” under the name Djo. His growing fame seems to have nurtured his creative output. That same year, he released his debut album Twenty Twenty.
thedailybeast.com – 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.
Though he’s newly 30, Keery can’t help but unleash his inner child when something thrills him, spinning through conversations with a buzzing energy and a carousel of topics to excitedly discuss. The actor is calm and soft-spoken—except when he’s talking about his idols (Charli XCX and Stanley Tucci, of course) or reminiscing about his days as a college kid in Chicago.
Thrust into fame in his early twenties, thanks to his dopey grin, floppy hair, and crush-worthy charisma on Stranger Things, Keery has now adopted the stage name of “Djo” (pronounced “Joe,” like Django Unchained) for his music career.
nme.com – It’s a roasting hot July day at Lollapalooza festival, Chicago, and Joe Keery is strutting confidently about the Bud Light Seltzer stage, electric guitar in hand. “What’s going on?!” he shouts to the sweaty crowd, “Y’all staying cool?” Some replying screams suggest they are, but Keery must be boiling. He’s sporting head-to-toe white overalls (as are the other touring members of his psych-rock outfit Djo), blocky sunglasses and a shoulder-length brown wig. He looks like Kevin Parker crossed with Weird Al Yankovic.
Fast forward two weeks, and Keery is telling NME how much fun he had that day. The quirky get-up is gone, but his big grin isn’t. “My God, it was unbelievable!” he says, chatting via video call. Today he’s wearing a simple white vest and sits in front of a virtual beach background, looking very content with his recent life choices.
“The stage persona started as a way to disassociate the music from the character that everybody knew me as on Stranger Things,” he says of his musical alter-ego, which he debuted in 2019, “but I ended up loving the camaraderie that it creates. My goal is to surprise people and to have a really fun show that’s infectious!
“It’s not lost on me that [Stranger Things fans] are going to come and see Djo – and that’s cool. If they like the music that’s great and if they only like it because of the show, that’s also fine. The main thing is to have fun.”
Speaking of Netflix’s internet-consuming telly behemoth, the latest season of Stranger Things was the biggest and darkest yet. Even though the finale aired in July, fans are still pouring over the most viral scenes now – including an unexpected topless shot of Steve, the high-school jock turned nice guy played by Keery. It was also a huge season for music. Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ shot up the charts after being used in the show – and Keery’s co-star Joseph Quinn jammed backstage with Metallica after performing their 1986 classic ‘Master Of Puppets’ during an episode.