Find a big room and go record something in it!
It doesn’t matter where it is, or what you record… just find a large space and record something in it.
Large spaces usually have a very distinct sound to them. They also often have a noticeable reverberation. If you’ve chosen a public place as your big room, you’ll also have the benefit of having something interesting happening in that space too.
Use your imagination! Even if you don’t have a large room in your home (or even if you do), you can probably find somewhere large with an interesting sound. A shopping centre close to midnight? An underground railway station? A school hall? A cafe? A lift lobby?
You can choose to record the sounds that you find there or you can make some sounds of your own and record them. Don’t get stuck on preconceived notions of what is or isn’t a musical instrument – use this as an opportunity to break free and experiment!
And don’t worry too much about having to purchase equipment to do it. If you’ve got a professional field recorder, that’s great. If not, you can always use your mobile phone or borrow someone else’s gear. Again – break free of the notion that you must record with accuracy and high fidelity. The goal is to produce something interesting, not necessarily to document reality.
And then, make a point of incorporating the sound into your next project. Be creative. Use it as a background texture. Chop it up and turn it into percussion. Play it backwards for an eery atmosphere. Load it into a sampler, change the pitch, process it… Maybe that distant door slam can be subtly layered with your kick to make it sound huge. Maybe that train horn can be sampled and filtered to become a new synth lead. Maybe you could bring your vocalist and record some backing vocals in the subway. Or busy shopping centre.
Whatever you do, do something. Don’t just reiterate the same old approaches – be creative!