BANDSPEAK, BOSTON/NE BANDS, Fresh Stream, Interview

Boston Hassle Interviews Solid State Entity About Where Science and Art Meet

'I don’t have to consciously think about what I’m doing, it just happens'


I have been interested in Patrick Chaney’s musical output for over a decade. His musical practice has been a direct influence since meeting him. His project, Solid State Entity, has been a continuous exploration of the boundaries between dub techno, drone, sound collage, and noise. His output is continuously evolving and further develops his keen awareness of sound design and rhythmic pattern, space, and time. From deep earth shaking bass frequency exploration to melted and mangled field recordings to the point where their source becomes unrecognizable, Chaney’s work as Solid State Entity covers a vast sonic realm. I caught up with Patrick after listening to his project’s new album, Chorea which was recently released on the Boston based Property Materials label.

Boston Hassle: I am so drawn to your sounds. I have been listening to your music for awhile and was curious about how you began this Solid State Entity project? Is it possible to give a brief history of this project?

Solid State Entity: I got a copy of the program fruity loops on my computer when I was sixteen and that opened up a whole world of sequencing, sampling and synths. Seven or eight years later I was living in Allston where we were starting to host noise shows with acts like the Hunnie Bunnies, Container, Secret Boyfriend, and Lack at our house (the smokey bear cave). That introduced me to so many new perspectives on how to use and misuse all kinds of hardware equipment, like effects pedals, mixers and drum machines. I was also going to MassArt at that time where I took the Beat Research class with Tony Flackett which really inspired me to explore sampling and looping both audio and video. I finally bought an Electribe EMX and I’d say that’s where the project really began.

BH: I am also curious of your influences, whether they are music/visual/or experiential.

SSE: I’ve been very influenced by experimental industrial music like Coil and Nurse with Wound for many years. I’ve always appreciated the approach of re-processing the mechanical and sometimes bleak surroundings we find ourselves in to create something meaningful. I’ve also been drawn to sounds that have a hypnotic quality like ambient/drone music and techno. These genres seem to offer a space that allows the listener to temporarily dissolve some of the preconceived notions we have about space, time, and sense of self. All of this originally stems from an interest in the nature of consciousness, exploring it spiritually, scientifically, and subjectively through meditation or pharmacological means. I think music, especially live performance, is a very direct way to share these experiences with people.

BH: You recently released a new album on the Boston based Property Materials label, Chorea. Could you talk a little about this album? I am interested in your creative process. You have a wide range of sounds happening in your recordings. Are you using a bunch of samples? What are the various sound sources you use as the base of your sounds?

SSE: The title is a medical term that means “jerky involuntary movements comparable to dancing”. I found it appropriate since I explored some loose and abstract dance related territory in this release. I’ve been working with the Octatrack for sampling and sequencing and used a lot of samples created with this free granular synthesis program called Audio-Term. In terms of composition I love the Octatrack because even though I have no formal education in music theory I’m able to create complex poly-rhythms that drift in and out of each other allowing for a more disjointed approach to dance music. The BBC recently made a whole library of sound recordings available for free online, which provided some great material. I also source sounds from field recordings of things in my direct environment. The hum of a freezer, scraping a metal fan, crumpling paper and a detuned sitar are a few examples used in this release. The DSI Evolver has been my instrument for bass synth sounds for years now but I recently got a Waldorf Blofeld which unlocked the world of polyphonic synthesis which is new territory for this project.

BH: You have a fascination with how the brain and mind work? But go further back. Does this fascination have earlier roots? Were your parents obsessed with the mind?

SSE: Maybe not obsessed with the mind but my parents definitely encouraged inquisitive thinking, especially scientifically. Sometimes, I would have insomnia when I was a kid because I’d be thinking: when I go to sleep my consciousness and sense of self just end, so if I end who wakes up tomorrow?

BH: There seems to be this fluidity in both your recordings and in the live performances that I have seen of yours. What differing mind states do you inhabit in your creative process? Is the recording and composing different from your mind state during performance?

SSE: Sometimes the process is clunky and tedious, but when it’s good, it’s more of an intuitive state where I don’t have to consciously think about what I’m doing, it just happens. Playing live, I’ve always loved seamlessly transitioning between tracks and processing things with mixing and effects in real time, integrating some aspects of DJ-ing. I do my best to keep that improvised headspace of the live performance going when I record, there are some different considerations for each approach but essentially I’d say it’s the same state of mind.

BH: What things are on the horizon for you and this project now? Any more releases or performances coming up?

SSE: The label Basement Tapes out of Portland, ME will be releasing an upcoming EP called Neither Nor in August and we’ll be setting up a release show for that in Portland. I also have a mix tape coming out in a few months on Enmossed, another Portland based label. Other than that I’ve been taking some time off from this project to master other peoples music and mess around with DJ-ing.

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