Joe Jonas On His Upcoming Cooking Show, DJ Danger, and Taking Selfies in Chicago

Since the Jonas Brothers parted ways last year, Kevin, Joe and Nick have slowly started creating a career outside of being one-third of the pop-rock band that first gained notoriety and attention on the Disney channel. As Kevin enjoys fatherhood, Nick makes a go at a solo musical career — listen to “Chains” now — and explores acting, Joe is trying his hand at being a DJ, songwriting, and returning to the small screen.

Tucked into the back of a service kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel, Joe sits down with VH1 ahead of his performance as the hotel’s resident DJ at The Sound of Your Stay Music Lounge on the first night of Lollapalooza. It’s there he opens up about DJ Danger, being a foodie, and going solo.

VH1: Is this the first time you’ve done an interview in the back of a kitchen?

Joe: No. Actually, I think I’ve done it a few times. [Laughs] It’s funny you said that because I’ve started a cooking show with a few friends. It’s grown into something really exciting. I’m a foodie so I’ve been able to interview of a bunch of my favorite chefs and a couple other guys from the West Coast. It’s been really rad. So no — I’m kind of getting use to interviews in the kitchen.

That’s not something many people know you as. Is that something you wanted to explore?

The last year there’s been a lot of different changes so I’ve been able to have a lot of time for myself and do different things — things that I enjoy doing like DJ-ing, or starting a cooking show, or getting a house. Getting things like that started. That’s been a lot of fun. Obviously focusing on music, acting, and writing — that’s always happening but obviously have a little more time not running to go on tour.

One of the personas I read about was this character DJ Danger. How did that come about?

I think it’s funny that a lot of people say that’s my name. We used to make these really dumb, funny YouTube videos. We would have to promote a CD or a record a couple of years ago when the band was together. When we first started we didn’t just want to make a YouTube video and be like, “Go buy our album.” It just felt like that was so weird and so we were like, you know what, let’s just have some fun with it. We started to make these funny videos and in one of them I pretended to be a DJ — I was 15 — and the name stuck I guess.

So we need to update your Wikipedia page.

Yeah I think a little bit.

What does DJing allow you to do as a solo artist that you didn’t get to do as a Jonas Brother?

It’s fun to showcase the music that I love. It’s nice for a crowd like this because everyone’s going to a music festival not for one artist, they’re going for hundreds. You feel comfortable playing whatever you want and that’s kind of what I do. It’s an open format. I don’t necessarily stick to one style of music, like trap or house or whatever. I kind of go all over the map, which might be confusing to some but I think I’ll work with the crowd enough to make it make sense. And in situations like this where everyone is drunk and happy it goes over well.

Joe Jonas at The Sound Of Your Stay Music Lounge in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Matt Reeves

Is that freeing in a way — to explore different kinds of music?

Yeah, it’s cool. It is freeing. Sometimes it’s nerve-racking, you don’t always know — it’s a different thing than from performing. I feel like you’re able to speak to a crowd and move with a crowd. If you feel like a song’s not going to work you can stop it. You can do the same thing with DJing but once you build your set out you kind of want to stick to it. So it’s about being flexible.

And it sounds like you’re more than a celebrity DJ. You’re not plugging in an iPod and pressing play.

Right. [Laughs] Yeah, I really enjoy doing it. I love mixing. My friend was like, “Are you really going to be DJing?” And I said, “You can stand behind me the whole time and tell me if I’m really doing it.” I’m no Avicii but I really just have a good time with it and learning from friends. I think as musicians we pick it up pretty quick because it’s all tempos, it’s all timing, and it’s a taste in music and knowing what an audience would like. If you’re good with that, you can kill it.

What’s your favorite song to get a party started?

‘90s hip-hop. It’s like what I’m starting with today. I like starting with something familiar for people.

What song gets you in the mood?

A song that gets me in the mood… There’s this artist, Zhu, and he has a song called “Faded” and there’s a remix by Odessa. It’s a little complicated but it’s really good. And it’s like a good workout song as well.

Have you been to Lollapalooza before?

I’ve never been to Lolla before but I’ve been to Chicago many times so it’s interesting to see it in this way. It was pretty overwhelming today walking into that not really knowing where I was or what was going on but it was exciting at the same time. But I go to Coachella every year. I’ve been like five years. It is feelings of like, “OK, I don’t know where I am, I have no idea. You’re asking a lot of questions.” It feels weird to be a tourist in a city that you already know. It’s kind of cool.

Joe Jonas at The Sound Of Your Stay Music Lounge in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Matt Reeves

Do you want to play a music festival at some point?

I would love to. As my music develops, my hope is that this time next year I’ll be playing the festival. That would be great.

Do you have a favorite place in Chicago?

I don’t want to be like everyone else but the pizza is really good here. We went to a restaurant, Beatrix. The food was amazing. I was really blown away but — again — foodie. But even the park. That park is so incredible even when the festival is not going on, just walking around.

Have you take a selfie in the Bean?

Yeah. We shot a music video, our first video — it wasn’t really a video it was for a MTV competition that we’ve sent in on the website. The funny thing was — it was supposed to be for spring but they announced it in the winter — so we made it look like we were warm. We were in t-shirts in Chicago’s freezing weather. It was terrible. I remember just thinking we were in so much pain pretending to be warm playing guitars and drums and running around the city.

What would be your ultimate Chicago-style pizza?

I like Hawaiian pizza so that’s always a good one. I think meat lovers really well done and then I’m good. I’m satisfied.