by Lauren Rosier
Even before setting out on tour as the touring drummer for psych-rock outfit, Foxygen, Diane Coffee frontman Shaun Fleming had an interest and passion for music. From around his late middle school days to early high school, Fleming had been writing music. Then in high school he started playing and performing.
“When I was in between tours with Foxygen, I wrote My Friend Fish in about two weeks, just kind of demoing, and that got into the hands of Western Vinyl. Then Diane Coffee was born,” Fleming explains.
At the end of 2012, Fleming left his native California, and set out for a move to New York City. My Friend Fish was inspired by Fleming’s move to New York City and also during a time where he had been severely ill with the flu.
“[My Friend Fish] definitely has a darker mood. I had never moved to a big city and didn’t really know anyone. Atmospherically, it was a little darker, and I had gotten very sick. When I write my songs, they always start out with mood, melody, and then lyrically, second,” Fleming reveals.
Ironically, the sophomore release, Everybody’s a Good Dog was also inspired a move, but perhaps less intimidating – from New York City to Bloomington, Indiana. With Good Dog, however, the overall mood of the record is completely different than Fish.
“I moved to Bloomington and I was at a very happy place at that point. I knew I was writing a Diane Coffee record. I had a lot more time to think about it and had three months off to write this record. The mood of Everybody’s a Good Dog is happier, a lot more reflective, and much deeper,” he explains.
Upon listening to either of Fleming’s record under the Diane Coffee moniker, one can clearly hear an eclectic blend of various influences from ‘60s and ‘70s pop, rock, funk, R&B, and a plethora of other genres. The melting pot of such influences really creates a unique sound that’s incomparable.
With that said, Fleming never had a clear, calculated goal to create a throwback record or necessarily tried to celebrate that era of music. “I grew up listening to that type of music in high school and that influenced me,” he explains.
From that type of music, those types of melodies and song structures were what would pop into his head. Fleming admits ‘60s and ‘70s influences of artists like legends Sam Cooke and Diana Ross, to artists like The Beatles and David Bowie, and many classic rock standards.
What you don’t hear in Diane Coffee material is the country music his father listened to: “Dad was really into country music like ‘80s and 90s David Wilcox, Hank Williams, to Conway Twitty,” he says. He reflected upon when he really started getting into to music was right around “late middle school and early high school” right around when Napster came out.
What you’re going to see at a Diane Coffee show is similar to eclectic, unique artists like the Flaming Lips, St. Vincent, Kendrick Lamar, and Sufjan Stevens, just to name a few. Fleming takes great influence from artists that have a lot of production. His writing style and stage presence is “all over the place” he says, but really “can’t help but write in an eclectic manner”, since he listens to such a wide array of genres and artists.
The Diane Coffee project has been “on tour” so to speak, doing one festival a weekend with four dates or so within driving distance of home. “It’s been a tug-o-war to really feel like we’re on tour and on the road. This time of year is strange, but the shows have been great and a lot of fun.”
Fleming and the rest of the Diane Coffee outfit will be stopping by Camden, New Jersey for WXPN’s XPoNential Festival on July 24th. “I’m really excited to be doing this. We just implemented a new stage show, but we haven’t done it in a festival setting yet. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in a festival setting, throw it out there, and see how it goes. I always change up the stage shows a lot. Sometimes it feels like you’re flying by the seat of your pants because we don’t always have a lot of time to plan it out,” Fleming says.
So if you’re attending the festival be sure to stay for their set. You can expect a lot of love, peace, and happiness.
“The one thing I always want to have at my shows is a general overall feeling of happiness, acceptance, and being able to really let go. Sometimes it’s harder depending on the area and it takes a lot of work if the room’s small. People have a hard time moving and getting out of their own head,” Fleming realizes. “We try to create and let go. My favorite part about going to a show is being cast into like a dream-like state, a non-reality, and be in the moment.”
Diane Coffee will be visiting Central Pennsylvania with a stop at Chameleon Club’s Lizard Lounge on July 10th before heading to the XPoNential Festival.