How Setwun used his studio and suburb to create a sample pack

Producer Setwun explored the creaks and cracks inside his home studio and the sounds of Chippendale to create a sample pack. Watch his process of finding and manipulating samples.

Exploring the quirks of his home studio, Setwun armed himself with a mic and field recorder to collect samples for his Somewhere Sounds sample pack. Venturing outside with a mallet in hand he wandered the streets of his suburb of Chippendale to collect sound bytes of street signs, beer kegs and traffic.

No stranger to manipulating found sounds and samples, he already had creative ideas of how he wanted to process them including running them through guitar pedals.

A broken stair inside his studio was transformed into a kick drum, unusual samples from his piano became an unusual melodic offering while a beer keg was used as percussion, Setwun used his familiar spaces to create an original and fascinating Somewhere Sounds sample pack.


Recording the samples

Starting inside with a Sennheiser shotgun mic (Model MKH 8060) on a boom pole plugged into a field F6 field recorder and monitoring with his Sennheiser HD 300 Pro headphones, Setwun walked through his space and found a creak on the ground to sample. After some laughs, his attention turned to the staircase.

Caution aside, the broken first step of the staircase was sampled with the idea of being his kick drum sound. Then swiping the staircase balustrade with his fingers, he knew this would be a great transition sound between sections of the track he was going to create.

With the swiping not over, he moved to the piano to record an eerie ‘whoosh’ sound from running his fingers over the strings with the sustain pedal pressed down so all the strings would all ring out.

After finding a tone from hitting his lamp and music stand with a drum stick — more on that later — it was time to head outside to see what else might produce a sound.

ableton sampling

Taking that drum stick (with a mallet end on it) Setwun tapped on an empty beer keg outside a local Chippendale pub that gave him a few ‘Tings’ to later be turned into a tuned percussion instrument.

Moving to a busier part of the streets, he asked a local skateboarder if he could sample him. While running after the skateboarder the team got the shots and Setwun got the sounds which then later became a percussion instrument.

The addition of a snug Sennheiser windshield made these recordings considerably better. Those who wanna try sampling outside, you have been warned!

After a few more hits and bangs on various structures and sculptures — the Chippendale Green Sundial being one of them — it was time to head home and transfer the samples to Ableton.

Processing the found sounds

After the easy process of copying over the files via an SD card, Setwun started making a drum rack that was aptly named ‘Pedal Stair Kit’ as it has the stair turned into kick drum, stair percussion, and a few different pedal percussion on shots.

As well as that drum rack there’s Wooden seat percussion drum rack, a Wooden bench percussion instrument, two Bench percussion loops, a Skate slice skateboard percussion instrument and the Sundial percussion drum rack called ‘Dial Kit’.

ableton drum samples
Setwun’s Ableton Live Set: Drum Arrangement

Using multiple samples from the streets of Chippendale he created two lush synths called ‘Pad Synth’ and ‘Lead Synth’. Both of these have extra doses of processing with Ableton’s Chorus-Ensemble and Auto Filter.

These two instruments make up the main chordal element of Setwun’s track, and they have a pad like sound, that acts as a bed for all the melodies in the track.

ableton lead synth
Setwun’s Ableton Live Set: Pad and Lead Synths

The Keg Slice instrument — that’s washed over with Ableton’s Hybrid Reverb — is a subtle left-side ear candy adding both rhythm and melody. Thanks to the beer drinkers of Chippendale for their part in creating an empty keg that produced a musical note!

Perhaps the most interesting of the melodies in the demo track is the Lamp Bell Synth in which the sample was stretched and became the main topline melody. The final result — with added Echo and Phaser-Flanger — is reminiscent of a Kalimba.

ableton synths
Setwun’s Ableton Live Set: Synth created from a Lamp

The last 3 of the instruments in the pack are the Harp Bass, and the two sweeps from the staircase and piano as mentioned above. While the sweeps were kept true to the recorded samples, the Harp Bass has some serious processing.

From the recording of his Lap Harp — an entry-level 8-string instrument from First Act Discovery — he mapped a fairly high-pitched sample across Ableton’s Simpler. The note choices are about 2 to 3 octaves below the sample.

The Harp Bass has a warm low-end sound that moves as a good bass line should, and you’d never know that it came from this instrument. Kudos to the Sennheiser shotgun mic that captured a crystal clear recording to then be manipulated to Setwuns taste.

ableton bass synths
Setwun’s Ableton Live Set: Bass Synth made from a small Lap Harp

We could keep deep-diving into this Somewhere Sounds sample pack, but best you go and explore for yourself and make some interesting and creative discoveries yourself and even add to this.

Download this pack and more from the other Somewhere Sounds series here such as Jonti, Chelsea Warner and Mr. Rhodes, and you can also download packs from our previous series, Sydney Sounds here.