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Diane Coffee

The Independent San Francisco

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM


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Event Details

The ever-evolving spectacle that is Diane Coffee -- the gender and genre-bending alter ego of
Shaun Fleming -- returns with Internet Arms, a swan dive into a lush, digital glam wonderland.
Fleming’s path to stardom can be traced all the way back to his childhood days as a Disney
voice actor, but for the past six years he’s explored the depths of his identity and channeled it
outward in the form of the enigmatic and exuberant Diane Coffee.
In 2018, after performing as King Herod in the Lyric Opera’s critically-acclaimed run of Jesus
Christ Superstar, Fleming emerged from the recording studio with Internet Arms. Born from the
fear and uncertainty of a future in which humankind is both dependent on and poisoned by
technology, the album finds Diane Coffee trapped in a digital world, enslaved by AI.
“Did you know the technology exists to take a photo of anyone you know and use it to create…
well, let’s call it, ‘adult entertainment’?” Fleming asks. “And did you know that an estimated 70%
of all online activity isn’t human? Where does that leave us? We don’t interact with each other
anymore because we’re always online. Not to mention we can manifest any version of ourselves
at the push of a button when we’re logged in, so when we encounter humans they’re not even
Facing this existential crisis, Fleming’s anxieties became his muse as his writing explored the
scenarios of this dystopian future: “It’s a personal study on how I feel about living with constant
blurred lines of the self and the projected self.” This notion shaped the sound of Internet Arms
as well, compelling Fleming to gravitate toward synths, electronic drums, and other futuristic
sounds from the past and present to create his version of a digital landscape, as well as a digital
version of himself.
“The songs are what have always dictated the sound. Working in the realm of clean, modern
pop production has been an exhilarating change of pace. Diane Coffee now sounds like a
digitization of its former self because I also feel trapped in this digital world,” Fleming explains.
This newly cybernated Diane Coffee is masterfully unveiled on album standouts “Not Ready to
Go” and “Like a Child Does,” with both songs serving as vulnerable reflections on power and
abuse. But whereas the former positions its chorus to soar high above a cityscape constructed
of conduits and transistors, the driving pulse of the latter propels forward like a high-speed race
through the surface streets of said city. Elsewhere, Diane Coffee’s sonic boundaries are pushed
the furthest on “Lights On,” a massive contemporary pop song that impressively showcases
Fleming’s extraordinary vocal range.
As a whole, Internet Arms marks a significant new phase for Fleming, a testimony to the idea
that Diane Coffee will endure as a fluid form of expression that continues to defy expectations of
sound and genre.

The Independent

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