To get a rich sound in your tracks, use as many sources to get your sounds from as possible. Synthesise some from scratch using various synths, use some presets, use some heavily tweaked presets, have fun collecting sounds doing field recordings, perhaps record stuff using your smartphone to get something interesting and dirty, use iPad audio apps, use sample CDs (no need to panic here, do it moderately and it will do good), experiment with new instruments, plugins and find your favourite ones with your favourite parameter settings to develop your unique sound, too. In one track I went out of the studio and recorded my laptop speakers playing the main groove that I’d made in Ableton Live using my iPhone. It was fun and quickly lead to new ideas: back in the studio I started mixing in some elements of the track with what I had recorded – bang, there’s your intro.
The idea is to avoid doing everything in one way and move outside the box, work from as many sources as possible. If you like distortion, use different types of it: overdrive, saturation, bit crusher, trash, software, hardware, etc – but also pick your favourite ones. For that you will have to try lots of them and spend a good amount of time experimenting with them. Also a good tip here would be a much overlooked one: read the manual. And check the factory presets. Check them but don’t chuck them on the next sound that comes your way, they’re only supposed to show off the abilities and strengths of the device. Use them to fully understand what the tool is capable of.
Are you an Ableton guy but also own Logic? Why not pop over to Logic to get effected up, then export the results back to your Ableton project. Or vice versa. By the way, there’s some amazing guitar amp simulations in Logic, plus the Space Designer reverb is totally awesome. Apart from the obvious ones, you can do great reversed spaces with it or get some dirty spring reverb going that can add a lot of character to a sound. Which is why, when I use them, I tend to dedicate only one or two instruments to them to make those ones stand out.
So the point is, use as many sources for your sounds as you can. Not only is it good for your production but you will less likely to find yourself stuck in a rut or run into writers’ block.
Any questions? Have you found the same? Have you found the opposite?
Let me know! Stay alert because soon I will make a raffle for some lol coaching sessions, keep an eye on my blog!