RECORD THE WORLD
Creating your own sound library of field recordings is a lot of fun. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, especially when it comes to using these sounds in my productions. Years ago, I remember using a budget condenser microphone, sticking it out of the studio window to record anything and everything which was going on outside. I’d hit record, and leave it on for an hour or so; once done, I’d search through the weird and wonderful sounds in the recording, then chop out and save the best sections to a new folder.
These days, everyone can capture sounds using a mobile phone. However, for best results, I suggest you invest in a good-quality field recorder from the likes of Zoom or Tascam. These are pocket-sized, provide long recording times, and allow you to record signals in a wide range of file formats.
In electronic music, your beats have to be punchy and weighty, which is why, depending on the style of music I’m creating, I find using found-sounds can be tricky at times. Usually, the core sounds will sound extremely weak, and require a lot of additional processing to get them up to a pro standard.
A good technique here, therefore, is layering. I usually stack sounds when producing drums, but especially when working with beats derived from field recordings. I’ll spend a lot of time sourcing the right samples, and concentrate on tuning and EQ to invisibly ‘glue’ the individual hits together.
Another thing I like to do is set aside a block of studio time and design entire found-sound loops in isolation. These bespoke loops can then form the basis of a new drum groove once you layer harder-hitting one-shot drums over the top.