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.