Make Some Noise! How Sound Design Artist Ali Lacey Uses Bathtubs and Pickaxes for Art

Sound design is an incredibly imaginative, resourceful, and complex art form. The unique process of creating sounds is something that, like all creative endeavors, can't fully be taught in a class or tutorial, but felt, explored, and discovered. Sound+Shelter produced an intriguing profile of sound design artist Ali Lacey, in which we get to see the peculiar method and tools he uses to produce sound, giving us a closer look at the wider world of sound design. Continue on for the video.

If you tend to pick up your sound effects and ambient tones from libraries and collections online, this video might inspire you to trade in your mouse for a pickaxe. Lacey, who is also a folk/indie music artist based in Wales, takes an interesting approach to sound design. He sees instrumental capabilities in just about everything -- a bathtub, an oven, a shovel, even (what looks like) a window shutter.

Using an assortment of wooden drumsticks, bows, sledgehammers, percussion mallets, and yes, a pickaxe, Lacey creates simple sounds that filmmakers could easily use to create the right ambience in their movies. Case in point, who knew that banging a strung-up metal bathtub with a mallet would produce the perfect heavy, dark, and anxious sound effect?

Though Lacey composes a full musical piece from all of the sounds he records in the video (which obviously takes some incredible skill that not all of us possess at the moment), his inventiveness is truly inspiring and will surely get your creative juices flowing. So, grab your mics, raid your tool shed, and take a trip to the salvage yard and make some sounds of your own!

Do you have experience with a similar type of sound design? What kinds of objects do you think would produce some cool sounds? Do you have any advice or tips for us? Let us know in the comments below.

Link: Ali Lacey's website -- Novo Amor

[via Storm+Shelter & Film School]

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Your Comment


"What kinds of objects do you think would produce some cool sounds?" I produce some cool sounds with an object that looks like a laptop computer with synthesizer software installed. Old and beat? is the discarded steel tub the new EDM? maybe it is!

January 14, 2014 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Burial samples these types of sounds extensively!

January 15, 2014 at 8:31AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Christian Anderson

The musical ending was by far the coolest thing I have seen and heard in a while.

January 14, 2014 at 10:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Search Mistery Guitarman on Youtube and you will see much more stuff like this (some even better!).

January 15, 2014 at 3:21AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Cool video and loved the ending.

Diego Stocco does some cool stuff with sound recordings so if you want to see more stuff like this thats the link from his youtube channel.

January 15, 2014 at 4:21AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Tomislav Rupic

Sometimes pulling from a library is the best option for quick projects, but if you have the time, it's definitely a lot more fun to record it yourself. And you might accidentally discover a sound that adds that extra something your project needs. Inspiring video.

January 15, 2014 at 7:01AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


The important thing when you record your own effects is to record a complete series. If you have a great-sounding door, don't just record the open and close, but record the open, close, creak, slam, fast open, fast close, knob jiggle, slooooow creak. Ditto for a car. Start, off, idle, bys at 20, 40, 60 (if possible), interior at speed, and all doors open, close, trunk. The more you can record, the more you can create any possibility from those elements.

January 15, 2014 at 9:01AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


That's EXCELLENT advice! Thank you!

January 16, 2014 at 11:06AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

V Renée
Content Manager at Coverfly

Like shooting plenty of b-roll, the more the better.

January 17, 2014 at 11:16PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Dandy Trooper

Awesome!!! It reminds me einstürzende neubauten.

January 15, 2014 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


very facinating video, but on the lacey website I can only find his folk music.
Where I have to search if I'm interested to listen his sound composition (like the one at the end of the video)?

January 16, 2014 at 1:27AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Hi Andrea,
i am yet to make a site dedicated to my sound design work, there is a few videos online that include my sound design....This is my latest library of sounds created from a toy piano, the library is aimed at cinematic music and eerie sound fx:
Feel free to contact me for any info

January 19, 2014 at 9:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM