Diane Coffee Saves the Day on ‘Internet Arms'

Accomplished voice actor, former Foxygen drummer and Run the Jewels collaborator Shaun Fleming captures the Diane Coffee buzz on new album

"It's a tale as old as time: the idea where AI [artificial intelligence] has become self-aware and sucked mankind into this new digital landscape ... and Diane Coffee saves the day," Shaun Fleming told me over the phone earlier this week.

"It's like 'Tomb Raider' meets 'Tron' meets 'The Matrix,'" he added.

On his new album, "Internet Arms," Fleming aimed for something more electronic sounding, which begat the content -- i.e., "writing about a dystopian tech-driven future" -- and that begat more of the sound, forming a kind of loop, according to him.

For Fleming, the stage name Diane Coffee isn't so much an alter-ego as it is "an amplified, magnified piece of [his] own being -- the child-like energy that comes forward when performance is close at hand."

As such, Fleming and Coffee are, in many ways, "one and the same."  

"Let's say you're a shy reserved kid, but you get this buzz that runs through you when you go to a concert -- you're screaming at the top of your lungs.... That feeling is what Diane Coffee is," Fleming said.

That said, as an accomplished voice actor with plenty of Disney television and video game credits to his name, performance and character acting have been some of the more formative aspects of his life. 

"I've always been a performer. That all comes from the same place. In a way, that was Diane Coffee before the name came out. That's why there are several different sounding voices on a record -- I really like to play with the sounds I can create with my voice. I learned that through my voice work with Disney and things like that, and my theater background is always injected into my live stage shows," Fleming explained.

Before Diane Coffee, Fleming drummed for Foxygen -- Sam France (vocals), Jonathan Rado (multi-instrumentalist) and Fleming all having grown up together at the edge of Los Angeles County in Agoura Hills.

That partnership brought Fleming to New York, where he was living "in like Rado's spare closet." On a tour stop in Bloomington, Indiana, where Foxygen's label Jagjaguwar is located, Fleming met his wife and creative partner, Melinda Danielson.

"She had a spot she had just purchased, and I wasn't fitting in in New York.... Big city living isn't necessarily for me," Fleming said.

"Bloomington is like a cultural oasis," he added.

To date, Fleming has released three studio albums, including "Internet Arms," in addition to landing a feature on Run the Jewels' second studio album.

"I met them through mutual acquaintances. El-P approached me and told me he really liked the way I layered my vocals. He wanted to work with me on a project, and I found out later it was gonna be the "Run the Jewels 2" record. It was really relaxing and super easy," Fleming said.

Diane Coffee headlines Casbah on Saturday, June 15. Get tickets here.

Rutger Ansley Rosenborg is an editor and digital marketer at NBC's SoundDiego. Find out more here.

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