Riley Keough Talks Stepping into Music with ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’: “It Feels Like I’m Sharing All of Me”

Fans of Daisy Jones & The Six have been holding their breath since 2019, wondering who would embody the titular character. They got their Daisy in Riley Keough—an end result they seem to be more than satisfied with.

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The actress expertly walks the line between the fiery frontwoman Daisy hopes to present herself as and the deeply fractured woman hiding underneath it all. The plot follows Daisy as she joins a previously established band, The Six, and develops a relationship with lead singer Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin).

[RELATED: Who Wrote “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” From ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’]

While a large part of the show’s appeal is the hazy ’70s performance scenes, the heart of the story comes from the emotional journey each of the characters withstands while on the path to superstardom.

The series was accompanied by an album—written largely by Blake Mills—that has since gone to No. 1 on Billboard’s Soundtracks Chart. The success of the album makes Keough and her castmates the proud owners of a hit record, blurring the definition of being a fake band. How fake can you be if you have a No. 1 album?

American Songwriter recently sat down with Keough to discuss her foray into the music world through the role.

American Songwriter: I know you took vocal lessons before stepping into this role. Was there a particular moment during that time when you felt you first captured Daisy’s voice?

Riley Keough: I think that happened to me during the rehearsal process. I didn’t know if I could do it or not. I kept trying, but there was a part of my voice that I had never accessed before I booked the role. I didn’t understand how one even sings loud because I’m not really a singer. He [Blake Mills] taught me what to do with my breath—he pushed me. In hindsight, I think it was that moment when I finally felt like, ‘This is how I sing.’ That was pretty special.

AS: What was it like working with Blake Mills? Did the songs come to you fully formed or did you have an opportunity to tweak them a bit?

RK: Most of the songs were fully written. The two that weren’t were “The River” and “Let Me Down Easy.” So I was able to watch those songs from inception more so than the others. With “Let Me Down Easy,” we were able to watch them record the demo and fix lines—watch the songwriting process happen.

AS: Did that inform your performance at all? The songwriting scenes, specifically?

RK: If we were doing songwriting scenes, I would sit down with Blake and ask, “Okay, what’s believable here? What would the melody she would come up with here sound like? What would the guitar riff be?” That was super helpful to have people like Blake or our guitar teacher, Ryan Hommel, around for us to ask those kinds of questions to. The nuance of that stuff is so important. You don’t just want to make it up in your head if you’re not a musician.

AS: Was having songs to play around with fun as an actor? They are sort of the character’s inner monologue expressed outwardly. Did you enjoy that aspect of this project?

RK: It’s such a different way of expressing yourself and your art. It was fun to get to experience what that might feel like. There’s such a difference actually, between acting and singing. It’s more personal in a way because you’re not hiding behind another character. I think with acting, pretending to be someone else, there’s a disconnect there. You’re stepping into somebody else’s shoes. Not that the emotions aren’t real but, it’s layered. Maybe musicians feel the same way about actors but, to me, [singing] feels like I’m sharing all of me. you make a decision to be really vulnerable and allow people in. There’s no hiding behind a character if you’re a musician.

Riley Keough as Daisy Jones (Photo by Lacey Terrell / Prime Video)

AS: How was filming in front of a crowd for the live performance scenes?

RK: When we did the Diamond Head Festival [in Oahu], the crowd was pretty big and responsive, which was really fun. Then in the stadium scenes later we had some extras, but there were certain shots where we couldn’t have a crowd. That was really a bummer. It makes such a difference to have their energy.

AS: Do you remember how you felt when you first performed in front of an audience?

RK: The first time I performed in front of a crowd was Diamondhead, which was Daisy’s first time performing in front of a crowd as well. So that apprehension that she feels was authentic to how I was feeling.

AS: Has this role inspired you to do any songwriting yourself?

RK: I’ve never written a song. Maybe one day, I will. I don’t really know how, but I guess I didn’t know how to sing either…

AS: How was recording the soundtrack? Did that come before the filming process?

RK: Yeah, we were in band rehearsal for months before we got to film anything. We did band rehearsal at Sound City and were simultaneously recording there. All the music stuff was very heavy in the beginning. So much so that we were like, ‘Okay, we’re great musicians but we haven’t rehearsed our acting at all.”

AS: Did that inadvertently inform your performance? Did it feel really comfortable shooting the scenes in the studio after actually recording an album?

RK: Yeah, you can’t fake that. You can’t fake that you’re comfortable doing those things. The music scenes became the most comfortable because we spent so much time doing music.

AS: How did you guys go about building a rapport as a band?

RK: It was very real. We were in band rehearsal all day and recording together. We had a relationship that was built over a year and a half already. We were sitting in a rehearsal room playing through our songs so, we didn’t have to pretend to know what it felt like to be in a band together. We were in a band all day, so that dynamic was very authentic.

AS: Obviously the soundtrack was created for the show, but you have had very real success with it. Where does being a fake band end?

RK: It’s so crazy! I don’t know where the line is but being on the charts is not an experience I ever thought I would have. It’s a very cool experience for sure!

AS: Do you think you’ll do any more music in the future?

RK: I don’t know. If the right thing came up, for sure. It’s definitely something I enjoy, now that I’ve learned how to do it.

Main Photo by Lacey Terrell / Prime Video

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