Why Stranger Things Star Joe Keery Goes By the Moniker Djo

After Joe Keery’s song “End of the Beginning” went viral on TikTok, the Stranger Things actor explained what his alter ego Djo means.

By Olivia Evans Mar 22, 2024 2:49 PMTags
Watch: Why 'Stranger Things' Star Joe Keery Goes By the Moniker 'Djo'

When he's back in Chicago, Joe Keery doesn't want you to know he's the one feeling it. 

When the song "End of the Beginning" recently went viral on TikTok, fans were surprised to learn that the musician Djo was actually the Stranger Things star. And for the actor behind Steve Harrington, the quasi-pseudonym, which is pronounced "Joe," was an intentional choice. 

"‘What is the most confusing way to spell my name?' And that's it," Joe explained during a March 20 appearance on SiriusXM's TikTok Radio. "I came up with it at maybe 11 o'clock, I had finished the first record I did—I was uploading it to AWAL myself—and was not sure what I was going to call the project and sort of last minute ended up on that, and the rest is history."

Joe also added that he was somewhat inspired by jazz musician Jean Reinhardt, who went colloquially by Django (pronounced "Jango."), adding, "I was like, ‘Oh, he did that!'"

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But the Free Guy actor—whose viral song calls back to his time exploring the indie music scene in Chicago while studying at DePaul University—also wanted people to listen to the track before casting his identity on it, comparing himself to comedian Andy Kaufmann's alter ego Tony Clifton

"I had a little pipe dream that it would be an Andy Kaufmann sort of thing where, if you know, you know," the 31-year-old explained to Paste magazine in an article published March 11. "My main intention was that, if people could hear the songs for the first time—or maybe the first two times—without the full onslaught that it was this dude from Stranger Things, then they could listen to it with an open mind."

Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Still, Joe—who also performed with the Chicago-based band Post Animal until 2019—wasn't surprised that his cover was blown when his 2022 release started taking off on TikTok earlier this year. 

"I'm not a total idiot—you're gonna put it together, eventually," he added. "It definitely served its purpose, and it's an investment—it makes people feel a bit of that discovery factor, which is an exciting thing, and it makes you feel like you discovered it."

And as Joe gears up for the final season of Stranger Things, he views his song's virality as a way to gracefully exit his time on the Netflix sci-fi series. In fact, it may provide him a gateway to pursue a music career full time. 

"In my downtime, I've been able to fill it in with music in the studio and recording," he divulged. "Once all the dust is settled from my time on Stranger Things, it's definitely something that I would be interested in doing."

And Djo Keery isn't the only celebrity who has deployed the bait and switch for his namesake. Read on for more stars who've used a moniker for their careers.

Belcalis Almanzar

Cardi B took on the name Bacardi after family and friends started calling her sister Hennessy. Later on she shortened the name to something that suited her quite a bit more.

Rachel Meghan Markle

Before she became the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was briefly known as Rachel. 

Eilleen Regina Edwards

Shania Twain shared the origin story of her stage name during an appearance on Apple Music's Home Now Radio: "In short, I was born, Eilleen Regina Edwards, and then I was adopted and I became Eilleen Regina Twain. Then I became a professional singer and I needed a stage name that sounded a little less like my grandmother's name, because I'm named after my grandmother, both my grandmothers, Eilleen and Regina. I think, in my mind, I was just not really wanting to be called my grandmother's name onstage, so I decided to change it to Shania Twain. I met somebody with the name Shania, thought it was beautiful, and Shania Twain was born."

Jelena Noura Hadid

Oddly enough, Gigi Hadid got her stage name in school when the teacher would confuse her and a girl named Helena. Since her mom called her "gigi" as a term of endearment at home, she told the teacher to just call her Gigi and it simply stuck. 

Mark Vincent

If you're looking for an explosive action-star name, how about Vin Diesel instead?

Destiny Hope Cyrus

Miley Cyrus' bright smile is what inspired her childhood nickname, Smiley. Eventually the name was shortened to Miley and it stuck. 

Peter Gene Hernandez

Apparently the singer looked more like a Bruno than a Peter, so one day his dad started calling him Bruno. Ever since, he has been known as Bruno Mars.

Stefani Germanotta

Before the meat dresses and chart-topping music, Lady Gaga was just an everyday girl from New York.

Daniel Sudeikis

Jason Sudeikis confirmed on Today that he was named Daniel after his father, but following some confusion, his mom started using his middle name Jason to avoid confusion. 

Emily Stone

Emma Stone ended adopting this stage name after finding out that the Screen Actors Guild already had a member registered under her birthname. 

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

Turns out Reese isn't even Reese Witherspoon's middle name. The actress chose the moniker in honor of her mother, whose maiden name is Reese.

Elizabeth Woolridge Grant

Every artist has an alter ego, and Lana Del Rey just happens to be the persona of choice for the singer. 

Christopher Edwin Breaux

In 2014, Frank Ocean legally changed his name because, why not? 

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

A little known fact about 30 Rock's Tina Fey is that she is actually named Elizabeth. The comedian made a not so subtle tribute to her birth name by naming her character Liz Lemon.

Calvin Broadus

This pioneer of West Coast rap would later go on to be known as Snoop Dogg.

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor

Turns out the "Royals" singer is really into learning about the aristocracy, hence the reason why she chose the name Lorde, but with a feminine 'e.'

Enrique Morales

Before he started shaking his bonbon for the masses, music superstar Ricky Martin went by this everyday name.

Amethyst Kelly

It's hard to believe that Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Kelly!

Adam Richard Wiles

Fans were confused when Taylor Swift thanked then-boyfriend Adam in an acceptance speech, which lead people to the discovery that Calvin Harris is simply a stage name. The DJ told Shortlist magazine he chose the name because his first single was more soulful and wanted something a bit more "racially ambiguous."

Jennifer Anastassakis

Before she became a household name, this was what erstwhile Friend Jennifer Aniston answered to.

Alicia Augello Cook

Alicia Keys didn't always have such a musical name.

Thomas Mapother IV

Before he became arguably the biggest movie star in the world, Tom Cruise went by this name.

Natalie Hershlag

Back when she was born in 1980, this was how the future bigtime actress Natalie Portman greeted the world.

Amanda Lee Rogers

Before she became a big-time TV star and married Ellen DeGeneres, this was the name Portia de Rossi answered to.

Reginald Dwight

Guess music superstar Elton John didn't think his original name would be a hit with audiences.

Nicole Camilla Escovedo

Check former Paris Hilton BFF Nicole Richie's birth certificate and this is the name you'll see.

Paul Hewson

All it took was a nickname from some high school friends, and U2 frontman Bono's famous moniker was born.

Tara Patrick

We agree. Carmen Electra is much more effective when it comes to selling a sexy Baywatch persona.

Eric Bishop

True, Jamie Foxx just seems more fitting for an Oscar-winning Hollywood party guy.

Demetria Gene Guynes

Before she'd starred in dozens of huge Hollywood movies and married two Tinseltown A-listers, this was the name Demi Moore went by.

View More Photos From Celebs' Real Names
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