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.