Stateside Presents

DIANE COFFEE

DIANE COFFEE

Claire George, ROAR

Sun, June 16, 2019

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Valley Bar

Phoenix, AZ

$12.00 - $15.00

This event is 16 and over

DIANE COFFEE
DIANE COFFEE
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 real.”
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.
Claire George
Claire George
Claire George is a songwriter with wide eyes and a natural sense of wonder. You can hear it on single “Orbits” when she sings, “Everything you are is a miracle.” The track, which references Carl Sagan’s infamous golden records of the star-bound Voyager probes, also speaks to the other miracles of creation — youth, love, and humanity. It’s this particular blend of boundless awe and cosmic curiosity that Claire George channels into her work, and that makes her new EP, Bodies Of Water, so engaging. Across the EP’s five self-written and self-produced tracks, she combines an imaginative melodic sensibility with swirling electronic productions, crafting a clear vision for her debut.

Claire’s voice will be familiar to some in the electronic space. She’s previously worked as a topliner, providing the vocal lines to tracks by dance artists Luttrell, Valy Mo, LP Giobbi and others. She also formerly served as the lead singer for the San Francisco act HEARTWATCH, but after disbanding in 2016, Claire decided to turn her focus inward. Seeking space and seclusion, she moved north for a quieter setting outside Seattle, near where she grew up. “At the same time my band split, I went through a break-up and a series of family traumas, quit my job, and left my community in San Francisco,” she said. “I had always been an extrovert, so living in isolation for a year and a half was a huge change for me. It was a period of solitude unlike any other I had ever experienced in my life.”

Coming to grips with her self-imposed stillness, Claire struggled with anxiety and feelings of groundlessness, which she channeled into her musical practice. As a songwriter, she was used to having other voices in the room, whether working with her former band or with producers on vocal collaborations, but this was the first time she was writing, recording and producing entirely on her own, from the ground up. Moreover, while major cities like San Francisco are stimulating, they can also be noisy; so often the inspiration we find when surrounded by the output of our contemporaries also clouds our creative point-of-view. Detached from her previous projects and surroundings, Claire was able to experiment freely. “This was the first time the genesis of a song started entirely from me, so I just really allowed myself to explore,” she said. “The creation process felt like a form of meditation, though often extremely frustrating. I was still learning how to produce as I was writing and creating, so everyday was a new experience with new challenges.”

Though difficult, the solitude proved rewarding, and Claire was able to find and refine her voice in the process. In 2018, she felt the present creative chapter closing and decided to relocate to Southern California to finish the material she had generated over the past two years.

Claire’s diligent approach paid off, resulting in the singularly captivating Bodies Of Water EP. Opener “Where Do You Go?” serves as an introduction to her reflective lyrics and shimmering electronic atmospheres. “Orbits,” a low-key pop jewel that swells around an ingenious vocal sample and a swooning chorus, was featured on a recent compilation from Kitsuné, and appears here as the lead single. Claire similarly shines on the winsome and considerably more uptempo “Second Guesses,” as well as the synth-driven, slow-burning album closer “Lonely Or Alone.”

Thematically, Claire paints an impressionistic picture of the transformative journey of love, the traumas surrounding the loss of youth and the ambivalence at the intersection of the two. “This record reflects a lot on changing relationships and on the role of solitude in developing a closer relationship to oneself,” she said. “My whole project is influenced heavily by my need to look inward, to understand isolation intimately, to come to terms with changing relationships, and to build a healthy relationship with myself.” Claire weaves those threads of self-awareness throughout the EP, from her deft production, to her striking vocal delivery, to her subtly nuanced perspective. Overall, Bodies Of Water is an undeniably strong body of work from a confident new voice, made all the more wondrous with each repeat listen.
ROAR
ROAR
The Phoenix, Arizona, band ROAR is what we can imagine to be a child of Cuomo's wide-spread power-pop influence, but just as much the offspring of Brian Wilson playing his piano in the middle of a sandbox filled with dog turds and Van Dyke Parks thinking about dreamy, ginger-scented girls, whose wholesomeness is unparalleled and boys who have the purest (sometimes with devils inside them) intentions toward them that we could possibly expect out of boys of any era. Owen Evans writes songs that are the new versions of romantic odes. They aren't the baby, baby, lovey dovey, romantic odes of the Phil Spector or Ronnie Spector times (the pair's black and white illustrations make up the front and back sleeves of ROAR's "I Can't Handle Change" vinyl album), but instead, they are the romantic odes of two young people in love with each other, who happen to casually and without incident cuss in conversation, who maybe talk about Michael Pollan books, who maybe don't have any problems with pornography and who aren't afraid to admit that they love the movies "Waitress" and "Kill Bill" equally and for similar reasons, oddly enough. The above description doesn't really matter at all. It's just an exercise in showing that classic love stories have changed, but here they are on "I Can't Handle Change." You hear the muggy, distorted guitar in "Just A Fan" that could have come right from "In The Garage," Cuomo's take on Wilson's "In My Room," and you hear within the doo-wop-y swings of these songs, a young man who just wants to spend his time holed up with the girl who comes as close to his dreams as he can ever hope to get and if that happens - if their hands fit snugly together - then he knows he could wish for nothing else. It's just about fitting together with another person who's uncannily like you in the important ways and it's about eating soup and sharing ice cream together, not worrying if your feet stink and enjoying the mundane and the thrilling all with the same kind of enthusiasm, then writing a love song about it all. Yes, that's what it's all about.
Venue Information:
Valley Bar
130 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ, 85004
http://www.valleybarphx.com/