Aleksander Vinter: the most prolific artist of the electronic scene

Aleksander Vinter, aka Savant, is an out of the ordinary electro artist. Born in Oslo, Norway, he has Asperger’s,  an autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, he is one of the most prolific artists you can find. Since his debut in 2009, he has released thirty-four albums, twenty EPs, two hundred and six singles, nineteen mixtapes. An endless and eclectic discography that explores the vast majority of electro genres. According to him, he has composed more than 11.000 tracks since his adolescence.

Aleksander Vinter picture

Savant, the syndrome behind the stage name

Aleksander Vinter suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He has never hidden his disability and talks about it openly in interviews.

“My childhood was really special. I have autism and I’m really like … a cloud. To me, I’m not an artist, I’m more like a camera that floats around and spends its time observing everything and anything.

I didn’t care about people, I just wanted to have fun with my toys, make music, play synthesizer, record myself on tapes and that since I was four years old. “

He has also been diagnosed by doctors as having savant syndrome. This is a rare condition that can affect some people with autistic disorders, who develop an area of skill and excellence that contrasts with the limitations of their disability. Aleksander Vinter discovered he had the disorder as a child after spending several weeks under observation in the hospital. He underwent tests, several scans, to let the doctors study his brain. This difference materializes, in his words, in the way he perceives art. “They are like shapes that make sense to me”. 

He describes the discovery of this syndrome as a revelation. He decided to accept his difference and throw himself body and soul into what he is passionate about, music. He turned his difference into a strength and adopted the name of his syndrome as his stage name:  “Savant“. 

An artist with a multifaceted discography

Singer, guitar player, piano player and many other instruments, Aleksander Vinter is an accomplished musician. He claims to be influenced by a variety of genres, from jazz to blues as well as video game and 8-bit music. This variety of influences can be clearly felt when browsing his discography.

Each album has a strong theme that transports his music into a very specific universe. Slasher (2018) refers to the golden age of 70′ horror movies, ZION (2014) has a lot of oriental influences, Protos (2014) can be listened to as a full-fledged space opera. Cult (2013), with its grandiloquent melodies, is reminiscent of church music – with a Savant twist, and Alchemist (2012) is a little gem mixing, in its own words, classical music, circus and pirate songs. An intriguing cocktail that remains one of his most popular albums even today. The elements that make up Savant’s discography are often found throughout his discography, namely guitar riffs and 8-bit surges that are intertwined with the unique influences of each album.

Aleksander Vinter album covers of Protos (2014), Cult (2013) and Alchemist (2012)
Album covers of Protos (2014), Cult (2013) and Alchemist (2012)

Far from being anonymous, Aleksander Vinter often appears masked when he performs live. Often appearing on his album covers, in drawings, Savant is an extravagant and colorful character. He regularly wears a Guy Fawkes mask, a reference to the movie V for Vendetta.

Aleksander Vinter is a unique artist. His discography is as eclectic as it is vast. Each album is an invitation to travel, in a different universe each time. He is also an extraordinary character, extravagant, a true music lover who knew how to make a real strength out of his handicap.

Credits: Léo Marchandon

Masked in electronic music

At a times where we are all living behind masks, the Futurgrooves team wanted to address the question of wearing the mask… in electronic music. The mask is at the origin of the culture of anonymity  serving the music. From the Underground Resistance collective in Detroit to Daft Punk, why do some electronic music artists prefer wearing masks?

70’s & 80’s : The birth of a culture

Let’s jump a little into the past, at a time when the exploitation of the image of rock superstars such as Queen or Kiss is at its peak. Back in the 70s and 80s: a time when the frenzy of the star-system borders on indecency, where exuberant script is king. Far away, a music with cold, jerky and repetitive rhythms is heard… it’s electronic music!

This new musical genre emerges in response to the abuse of star-system machinery: it is the birth of a new culture that puts music at the centre of attention. In opposition to the «super-scripting» of the bands of Rock’n Roll, the electronic music puts the artist at the same level as the public, the DJ’s and the dancefloor are one: it is the beginning of a new era of musical performance, whose mask will soon be a symbol.

End of the 80’s : The mask at the service of music

In a decade, electronic culture stands out because it focuses on music, not on the artist. It was the collective and label Underground Resistance (UR), founded in the late 1980s, that introduced the culture of anonymity into electronic music. The DJ’s of the collective offer incognito performances, dressed in black, faces hidden by hoods and scarves. The members of UR, originally from the ghettos of Detroit, prefer music to the artist’s ego: they perform masked and refuse to be photographed. With its innovative and challenging ideas, UR embodies and builds a culture of anonymity that will grow in

90’s: advance masked… in illegality!

Therefore, electronic music embodies values and ideals. The 90’s are the peak of this underground culture that carries protest and marginal values. It is with the birth of rave parties that the culture of mask and anonymity spreads. These parties celebrate music and dancefloor… illegally. It is therefore not surprising that many DJ’s preserved and hid their identities with hoods or masks. They did not hesitate to play hidden; nobody knew who they were, only the sound system was visible. Despite their anonymity, DJ’s were at the heart of a growing culture.

90’s: Anonymity, the key to success?

In parallel to this illegal context, masked artists make their appearance and democratize this practice to the general public. How not to evoke  Daft Punk: French duo pioneer of wearing the mask during their live performances. It is after the success of their first album Homework (1997) that Daft Punk puts on the helmet for the very first time. The two robotic and avant-garde characters maintain the mystery and create a universe that will make them famous worldwide. Result: 20 years of career, an international success, an iconic and unique universe thanks to their robotic alter-ego.

At the same moment, the mask was not the only way to put music at the centre of attention. The example of Bob Sinclar is revealing: the same alias for a multitude of DJs and producers. In 1998, the humorous alias «Bob Sinclar» brought together many anonymous DJs around the same project, erasing the identity of each to the benefit of music.

Anonymity and the wearing of the mask have seduced music lovers of all genres: from then on it is a scenographic and/or marketing asset.

Today: Why are DJ’s masked?

The appearance of masked DJs is strangely contradictory. On the one hand, DJs take hold of them to support dissident values. On the other hand, DJs are making it their trademark and are starting a new trend. However, a question arises: do these artists who are opposed in everything pursue the same goal?

There are many reasons why DJs wear masks. Bearer of mystery and imagination, the mask is for some an artistic, aesthetic or marketing choice. For others, masked performers represent the natural heritage of the underground culture of the 90s and allow them to preserve anonymity. Sometimes even, some DJ’s wear a mask during their performances to fight their shyness in front of the audience.

Despite all these reasons, which ultimately remain the choice of each artist, all these DJ’s have at least 2 important things in common: they focus on music and do their shopping in peace.