Prodigy / Fat Boy Slim / Daft Punk sampling methods

You may have seen some of the videos deconstructing tracks from big beat bands like this. It’s really insane and on a level I can’t begin to understand, perhaps some people here can explain at least some of the process or the thinking behind it?

How were these guys able to listen to music, and seemingly pick out some part like a small guitar section, and know or try or in some way think of it being looped / re-pitched / processed in a way that will fit with something radically different, and even build entire tracks like this over and over?

I’ve never seen any information about the thinking behind this or the process used, can anyone shed any light on it? The videos show the manual processes, I am more interested in the thought process before getting to this point.



I can’t say exactly how they all think, all I know is I have one idea for a sample-based song that has been stuck in my head for years, I just haven’t found the sample yet. It’s a short guitar lick I know I’ve heard before, very bluesy, and I’ve checked the entire discographies of Led Zeppelin and The James Gang looking for it. No luck yet, I’m starting to think it might be from “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix. Need to go through that song (and probably a few others) with a fine-tooth comb and see if I can find what I’m looking for.

But anyways, the idea came to me from listening to The Beastie Boys, so I didn’t really have it myself. I just heard one of their beats and was like “this needs that blues guitar lick on top of it, over and over in time with the beat”. I don’t know why that idea came to me because I don’t sample normally, but I just heard it in my head and knew.

So, if I had to guess, these acts start on their songs, then something they have heard elsewhere wanders into their heads, and if they can make it fit then they do it.

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First and foremost I think all good sample-users start off as absolute music fiends. People who think about other people’s music all the time. I think they tend to grow up in musical households, not meaning strictly that their parents or siblings could play an instrument, but just that there was always music on. There were musicians in my house but my family just loved music. There was always music on.

I’m working on a house/techno track right now were all the sounds besides the bass and the drums are made from the vocals in Janet Jackson’s “Cant’ B Good.” I started off thinking, OK, I just want to borrow some vocal phrases. But then I clipped out some layered vocal harmonies and that became a chord stab, I pulled out another short bit that became like a lead sound. Meanwhile, the vocal phrases have gotten more and more processed to the point where I by the time I’m done I doubt I’ll even bother calling this a remix of any kind.

How did I land on “Can’t B Good”? Because my mom used to go tanning and my brother and I would sit in the waiting room and the ladies running the place listened to Top 40 radio in the early 90s. We listened to a lot o that stuff. I call it Tanning Salon Music lol.

I really don’t mean to make this about me but I really have no idea how other people do it. I just think “Oh I like this song” and start chopping bits out or if I can find any kind of multi track recordings or MIDI files might use those as well. Its just a process. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

There is a degree of trial and error to things.

How people build music via collages of samples I am not 100% sure. Again, I think it is just knowing music really well from listening. I don’t often use samples from multiple published songs but I often use a combination of sound sources that are not my original creation. For me I enjoy the process of trying to figure out how to fit it all together with processing etc.


sometimes you’re just going through your records looking for sampleable parts, or you keep an ear out when you’re just listening. a single instrument playing for a couple of measures is rare enough that you can zero in on it and start building ontop of it with other things from your sample library or what have you. im sure alot of times they just mess around until something clicks without a large gameplan in mind.


One piece of the puzzle - others may disagree with me especially here where we have more glitchy breakbeat producers - but the artists you mentioned take samples and repeat them a huge number of times within one song. There may be a filter at some parts, it may drop out and come back in, but it essentially repeats unchanged over and over in the track. You’d be surprised how that type of repetition is addicting to the ear - so as a producer my advice is, get in the habit of chopping up and creating loops and leaving them to loop in your daw. If it loses interest after listening to the loop ten times over, drop it or recut it in a different way. Otherwise leave it going and start trying out drums and etc with it. As you practice this, more and more often you will find the loops that tug on your ear, that you want to just hear again and again. Then you’ve got the core of your track, and everything else like variation and fills has to support that.
Disclaimer: I don’t sample as much anymore but I did this a lot when I was starting out. And I’ve seen hip hop/vinyl producers work in this same way. The same process can apply to a sequence fed to a synthesizer or a drum loop.


@pippy900 Bro that video that you posted is like a cover and not a real thing . You know what i’m saying or not ? It is sounds and made like a cover and cover of a song never can transfer feelings of original unless its some guitarish thing maybe or ez thing . Or am I wrong? Of course I’m right.

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Thanks everyone for your responses, I’m very sorry about not replying sooner life just gets carried away sometimes and music ventures have to wait.

It is a very difficult topic to understand and it’s not like there are tutorials readily available so we are pretty much left to our own conclusions mostly. Personally I think those mentioned in the title grew up in the beginning of the hip hop era where lots of sampling was taking place, I think the idea of this kind of advanced sampling can only come from years of experience of sampling and experimenting. I still can’t take a sample and imagine what it might sound like pitched up and stretched and reversed, but I guess with experience some can. It’s just too much to suggest it happens by accident or we wouldn’t see tracks made like this.

Again thanks for all your responses!

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That’s an interesting method I never heard of thanks for sharing that. It reminds me how video game music can loop for hours and the game player can not even notice - there is some art form there for sure.

I have been learning about variation in musical phrases and how important it is compared to simply repeating things - of which the brain gets bored and attention drifts elsewhere - usually to some kind of skip or close button whichever stops the pain of the boring repetitiveness. This is for people like me who are not experts in music making, Daft Punk is an excellent example of being able to repeat things constantly while holding the listener’s attenmtion, but I am sure there is a lot of very subtle things going on there to keep us so interested.

Cheers for your thoughts!

There are multiple videos like this especially for Prodigy’s music. There is no mistake here, what you see in these breakdowns is what really happened when these songs were produced.

Which reminds me, if some random dude is able to reconstruct these just from listening to the song, it really is an art form that can be learned, perhaps mainly by experience as there is not much information that suggest otherwise AFAIK.

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I think experimentation and knowing your gear (being able to imagine what you can do with a sample) is a big part of it. As you say, growing up in the era when all of it was kind of new and it was the wild west, is somehow part of it too.

These days I don’t think using samples is very popular, you can’t even say it w/o being accused of making music by slapping together pay to play loops from monthly service like Splice. Everybody is all about sound design in Serum or all hot on analogue synths in the hardware world.

If you really want to get into the creative use of samples I’d recommend investing in a moderately priced sampler. Not because it will do more than software but because it will do less. You won’t be able to reach for another VST when you can’t come up with an idea. I know everyone’s financial situation isn’t the same but we are really spoiled for choice and price these days.

Frankly, I don’t do sampling well in my DAW. I only do it well on hardware. It is truly fucking strange LOL

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That’s deep man, the idea of getting a real sampler that does less which in turn makes you really learn to sample makes a lot of sense to me. I think I will be keeping an eye out and maybe one day when I have the funds and see a suitable sampler it might get the better of me. We really are overloaded these days, not with that splice crap but just the idea that we have so much technology at our fingertips - when these guys did incredible things with much less, I can imagine they truly appreciated their tools and enthusiastically read and understood the entirety of the manuals associated with them. If you look at Reason Studios latest offering - Reason+, the idea is to get an absolute ton of instruments and effect devices - all quite advanced and technical in their own right, all at once for one rental fee. Reason Studios are fanatics on marketing, and they put a lot of time, money and effort into it and that is what they came up with. At the same time you can hear almost any great electronic artist speak about how it’s better to have less tools and master them. Very true what you said, and I may just find myself a hardware sampler one day based off this discussion, cheers. :slight_smile:

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That is pretty much the process on a modern sampler too–unfortunately none of mine have polyphony–but they do have a more user friendly interface.

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You don’t understand what i’m talking about.

And you don’t know what really happened when Prodigy create their tracks. And of course Liam don’t used Ableton Live in 90-s.

Personally to me prodigy sounds like a music done via music tracker. I think if you want to create tracks similar to prodigy you better use Trackers. Free Advice!!!

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No I don’t know for sure. Sorry I thought maybe you were trolling to begin with.

It’s just hard to watch these videos and imagine it was created some other way, and I’m not talking about which DAW or hardware, I’m talking about the way the samples were chosen and manipulated.

Can you please explain what it is about trackers that would be good for producing this type of music, and why you think Liam used them over a DAW? By the way I know nothing about Trackers except kind of what they look like on a screen and that at least some of them are older than modern DAWs.

Ableton is effectively a Tracker in Session View… I suppose its like working with loops, instead of a full arrangement approach. The play button on the right of each row triggers the loops.

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Prodigy : cocke & meth
Fat Boy Slim : spliffs & Champaign
Daft Punk : Camembert & Red Wine

… ok, i’m out :wink:


lol ^^^

I have seen a few videos covering this kind of thing recently and while I picked up one or two interesting things still nothing is really covering it in detail.

I’m not sure you are going to find the kind of detail you are looking for anywhere. My last, best advice is to just dive in and find your own way. For me, none of the three artists listed in the thread title sound even remotely the same although they sample heavily to produce their music–point being, you’ve got to find the samples and make them uniquely yours using what you know.

While there are certainly any number of technical discussions to have about the topic, I think its more down to having an ear for it. I think it can be learned or natural but choosing the right sample and changing it (or not) in the right way to work in a new context is just an art that at the top level isn’t about what can be learned from a book, so to speak.

And I’m not saying “lets stop talking” but I say lets start making. I’m hoping to get back into making music here soon, using samples. I’d be up for saying WIPS and experiments if anyone else is.


Good logic there and what a great idea to collaboratively try and learn about this ourselves, it seems there is no definitive guide or anything remotely like that.

By the way I know the groups listed do not sound the same, but they all fall under the big beat genre and did amazing things with samples I want to endeavor to understand, I am definitely up for a collaborative effort on this. Shoot me a message about it some time.

Hope you get back to your music making soon, any time I have had a prolonged break I have regretted it and wished I got back to it sooner, for starters I get rusty and it takes me a while to get back in the swing of things. Personally I recommend jumping on for five or ten minutes a day if you can while you are on hiatus.

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