Latest Release - Five Minutes
About this Artist
Kenneth Kemp sits in the window of a Dallas cafe, thoughtfully stirring a cup of coffee in the afternoon. For a guy who specializes in music designed to get people moving, he’s mild-mannered and soft-spoken. You would never guess that he’s the visionary behind the disco/punk music of Binary Sunrise. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that his self-titled debut sat quietly on Kemp’s shelf for three years before it was ever released.
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying to get it in the right hands. He had given it to all of his musician friends, and in the process acquired a backing band consisting of Dallas music veterans Steve Holt, Michael Castillo, and Elijah Stafford. But no labels were biting -- at least not right away. It wasn’t until Good Records Recordings label head Tim DeLaughter discovered the record quite some time after Kemp had given it to him, when he decided to sign Binary Sunrise.
The truth is, Binary Sunrise’s debut album has to grow on you. That’s because, upon first listen, it’s difficult to put a finger on what it is, exactly. There are elements of punk, brit-pop, disco, weird-soul, and new-wave smattered all over the record. But after a handful of listens, you start to get a glimpse of Kemp’s cohesive vision. He’s combining subtle aspects of music he grew up hearing to make something new.
Standout track “2005” is a highly danceable mix of new wave and disco, in which a tormented Kemp sings “I’ve been waiting for something to say for so long, I didn’t know when it’d come. And that it would feel like a parking garage collapsing on my heart.”
Memorable lyrics like that continue on other songs like “Let’s Get Trashed,” an upbeat Beatle-esque song where Kemp sings the catchy hook “Let’s get trashed and listen to Tangerine Dream.”
The album’s top song “Five Minutes” serves as its centerpiece. Kemp’s vocals twist and yelp over a disco rhythm as he begs for just a little more time. In addition to the song being the album’s best, it also points in the direction Binary Sunrise will take on their forthcoming effort.
“It’s going to have more of a disco edge and more of a punk edge,” says Kemp. “So it will be overtly louder with a four-on-the-floor rhythm. It’s going to be a stronger record rhythmically.”
Kemp says that part of the inspiration to move in a more energetic direction came from bringing in a backing band. Before he completed work on the debut album, he had never played with a live drummer or bass player, so the addition of Holt, Castillo and Stafford was an eye-opening experience for him.
“We’ve got such energy onstage,” says Kemp, “that I can’t help but want to harness that for the new record.”
But energy is only half of it. Kemp wants to use the basic aesthetics of disco to create something interesting. His plan is to tap into the dark yet optimistic side of the genre, but he knows he can’t do it without one key ingredient: rhythm.
“I’ve always been really taken by rhythm,” says Kemp. “And if it’s really strong, I’ll listen to it, and if it’s really trippy and really hypnotic, I’ll get lost in it.”