Just ahead of his show at New York’s Webster Hall where he was booked on a Friday night for a headlining set, Aleksander Vinter also known as Savant spoke to us about his creative process making music, his favorite studio tools, and what he’s been working on lately. This prolific Norwegian producer by way of Los Angeles claims to have produced more than 10,000 tracks in his lifetime and it seems at 28 years old, he just getting started.
CreativeLive: Can you start by telling us about your latest project?
Savant: I’m working on three EPs for a project I call “Blanco”, which is like this very Reggaeton, Dancehall meets Trap and crazy dance music/ Jungle terror kind of thing where it’s all very aggressive, noises, and rhythms. It’s very very danceable. It’a all about the dance.
CreativeLive: Why/how do you find yourself really rooted in dance music?
Savant: First music I ever bought was a trance CD. That was the first music that woke me up musically. I don’t think it was necessarily the four four beat as much as the melodic content. I just kept producing that (Trance) for a long time. It became natural, almost like when you live in a certain area, you get an accent. It’s almost like that, like you listen, you grow up with a certain genre.
Dance music to me back in the day was very creative. Then it died out for almost 10, 15 years and now it’s back again. It died as fast as it came about. The waves are getting shorter and shorter Hip hop dominated the charts from ’99 to 2005, then electronic music started slowly taking over the pop scene.
These days, I want to be a Swiss Army Knife – not being a jack of all trades but really understanding all kinds of genres. I think that what I’m trying to do right now is find all kinds of inspiration in new genres. I want to try something new so I’m trying orchestral music, I’m trying jazz. I’m making more aggressive dance music that I haven’t made before and calling it something else.
Cretive Live: You have been using an FL Studio for a long time to produce music. Can you tell us about that?
Savant: That’s the only software I’ve actually created in that I’ve released something in. I’ve used other stuff to test it out, but it’s nothing that’s been as creative as that. It’s almost like having a piece of paper and a pen, basically. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. Some people feel that it is too open. Some people need a rigid system to help them produce music.
Before FL Studio, I was using trackers like Fast Tracker 2 and Madtracker. Certain genres had a huge revival in the 90s from nerds at home making game music that sounded like Nintendo games because of these trackers. I was totally into them but made metal and experimental music. I recorded every note of a guitar, every palm mute, every open power chord and I just made my own instruments and drum kits and I made metal music that sounded more electronic and programmed. I tried to emulate that industrial, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie kind of feeling.
Creative Live: Your music has a lot of variation in it. Can you tell us some more about your creative process?
Savant: I don’t repeat eight-bars. It’s always eight-bars or changing eight-bars. I make music where nothing loops. Iit has to change one way or another. I started creating music because I liked what I heard but it wasn’t good enough. I need to be unpredictable. I need to be unpredictable to be happy. Movement in music is also really important. Sounds are characters. They’re all speaking to each other in call and response. One instrument is playing a melody, then another one takes over that melody just like a different singer in an opera.
When I listen to a DJ set, there are like 10 seconds of each song and that sounds interesting to me, when that coolest part of every song plays. I make music that way so that when I DJ, I can actually just play the whole song. There’s constant movement there that will always keep the people thinking, “Is he mixing now? Or is this a new song?”
Creative Live: how do you finally come to a point that you decide that you’re done?
Savant: Never. That’s the problem. A lot of painters have said this too. When does a piece of art begin and when does it end? You never know.
Creative Live: in terms of mixing, do you mix as you go?
Savant: Yeah. Mixing and mastering as I go but I hate mixing. It’s the worst part because I usually end up with over 200 tracks. When I’m don’t it’s usually this insane six minute piece with 200-400 tracks and the scrolling never ends. Mixing the whole thing afterwards is hard, that’s why I need to do it while I’m going along. When I put a sample in, I make sure it has a slot, I make sure everything’s cut on it frequency-wise before I move on, so I don’t forget about it and later I go, “What that rumbling in the music? I can’t figure it out”.
Creative Live: Do you work in visual art as well?
Savant: Yeah, that’s where I come from. That’s the background I have. I’m a painter and I draw. These days, I’m more into 3D animation. All the rules within visual arts on a computer stuff are the same rules as in music.
Creative Live: That there are no rules?
Savant: Exactly but I’m talking about the rules that makes it tasteful. You can make images that are just random and it would just be a mess. How do you make things emotional for people to connect to? That’s the art. It’s really a lot of math. I’m not talking about conventional math, I’m just talking about what rhythms work with what type of culture? What draws nears to that? You have to look at scenes, like what is New York like? What is Texas is into? You have to understand what cultures are into. And it’s not It’s not about “I want you to like me”. It’s like, “I want to make you happy and I’m trying to figure out how.” That’s what I’m doing. It’s science, but it’s more like party science, I guess. Party science!
Creative Live: Any words of wisdom for up and coming producers?
Savant: Listen, I believe if you want to be a really great producer, get a crappy laptop that doesn’t do what you want it to do and have that for 10 years and get really good on that laptop. Nothing is going to be a challenge for you after that, because you’re going to get your hands on an amazing equipment that doesn’t fail when you touch it. That’s how you get really good. You don’t get good by getting handed sh*t. You get good by challenging yourself all the time.