Singer/songwriter & producer Absofacto (aka Jonathan Visger) has emerged as a talented artist to watch. He wrote & produced his single “Dissolve,” which is currently the number one song on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart, and is #3 on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart. He is also signed to Atlantic Records, and he’s released a 4-song EP, called Thousand Peaces.
Absofacto, who is originally from Michigan, has made the successful transition from unknown indie musician to rising alt./pop artist. It was just a few years ago that he would create all his songs at his home studio (in his bedroom), and simply release them on the internet. Now based in Los Angeles, he is busy working as a label artist, and he’s writing & producing songs for other artists.
Absofacto started out playing in indie rock bands, and then he decided to focus on his own music, creating experimental pop music at his studio. On these recordings, he played all the instruments and sang lead vocals. His music can be described as alternative, but his songs also contain hooky melodies and good vocals & harmonies
It was in late 2015 that Absofacto released his single “Dissolve,” which turned out to be a breakthrough song for him. It reached #1 on the popular music blog Hype Machine, and it caught the attention of Atlantic Records and other labels. This led to him signing with Atlantic, and releasing the EP, Thousand Peaces, which also contains the songs “Two Wrongs,” “Done With Love” (featuring female artist Herizen), and “Light Outside.” It was during this period that he moved to Los Angeles.
Then in 2019, “Dissolve” made its debut on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart, where it slowly moved higher. After a full 30 weeks on this chart, “Dissolve” finally hit #1 two weeks ago. Absofacto has also produced a unique and entertaining video of “Dissolve,” which was filmed at a swimming pool and features the female synchronized swimmers, the Aqualillies.
Following the success of “Dissolve,” Absofacto has released a new single called “Rewind,” and he has gone on tour, opening for hit pop band, SHAED. He is also writing & producing new songs, and often collaborates with writer/producer, Kosuke Kasza.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Absofacto. He tells how he got started in the music business, and how he wrote his hit, “Dissolve.” He also discusses his new projects.
Here’s the video of Absofacto’s hit, “Dissolve.”
DK: I read that you’re from Michigan. How did you get started with music?
Absofacto: I grew up in a super small town in Michigan called Alpena, and there wasn’t a lot to do there. But one thing about the town, is that we had this strong local music scene, with a bunch of weird bands of teenagers…they were all trying to out-weird each other (laughs). It’s something that I assumed existed everywhere. On any given Friday night, there would be seven local bands playing shows at halls. That was just embedded in my town.
DK: You played in indie bands for a while, and then you became a solo artist who created music at your home studio. Can you talk about your early years?
Absofacto: I had toured around in different indie rock bands. At a certain point, I decided what I loved was being in the studio, and I knew how to mix and master, and do the production. So I set myself up at home, and I started releasing songs independently on the internet. I did a lot of that through Bandcamp at the time, and I would let people pay what they wanted to. There wasn’t many people that knew who I was, but the ones who did were supportive. And long before I signed with Atlantic Records, I was able to make my way with music, just using the internet for a long time.
DK: When you were recording at your home studio, were you playing all the instruments and doing all the singing?
Absofacto: Yeah, I would start layering sounds up, and I would play live instruments, and I would mix it with electronic instruments and kind of create a soup of everything I loved.
DK: Your song “Dissolve” has been the big breakthrough for you. How did you write that song?
Absofacto: I wrote it in my bedroom studio. I found this sample of an obscure Motown record, and I used one second of a loop that just sparked this groove for me. Then I built on it, and lived with it for a couple months. I would work on it a little every day…I let it live for a while. Then one day, I came up with the line, “I just wanted you to watch me dissolve, slowly in a pool full of your love.” The song was riding on this funk/soul groove, just on one chord, and I changed up all the chords so the feeling almost flips from minor to major in the chorus, so you get this incredible lifting feeling when the chorus hits. And once that happened, I knew I had something.
Here’s the video of Absofacto’s song, “Done With Love”
DK: I like your video for “Dissolve,” which takes place in a swimming pool and features synchronized women swimmers. How did you come up with the idea for this video?
Absofacto: I’m glad you like it—that was my brainchild. I knew I was finally going to make a music video for “Dissolve,” and I had a rare day off where I was sitting by a pool, and I started imagining the song embodied by a lifeguard who was sad about unrequited love (laughs). Then I started story-boarding that out, and I thought it would be cool to use synchronized swimmers. So I found about the Aqualillies, who are a synchronized swimming group in L.A. who do a lot of commercials and videos.
DK: When “Dissolve” started to become popular, it led to you signing with Atlantic Records. How did that happen?
Absofacto: I had been on their radar for a while, but we hadn’t moved forward on it. Then I released “Dissolve,” and it reacted much more than anything I’d ever released. At the time, I was kind of living in the blog world, and “”Dissolve” went #1 on Hype Machine. As soon as that happened, I started hearing from different labels, and one of them was Atlantic.
DK: When you signed with Atlantic Records, is that when you moved to Los Angeles?
Absofacto: Yes, it was around that time. Before I moved to L.A., I had been coming out and doing a few sessions and meeting people. But I was a little afraid of the move…I wasn’t sure if I could do it yet. In L.A., someone that I’d worked with and became friends with was Busbee (hit writer/producer who recently died). I’m not sure I would have moved to L.A. without his support and encouragement. He thought I needed to move to L.A., and he would help me in every way to make that possible. Then when I got here, he introduced me to many people and always had my back. We stayed close friends.
DK: Currently, are you working on a full album?
Absofacto: Yes I am. I’m working on an album, but we’re going to drop some singles first, to build more momentum around “Dissolve.”
Here’s the audio of Absofacto’s new song, “Rewind.”
DK: Early on in your home studio, you played all the instruments and did the vocals. On your EP Thousand Peaces, did you still play everything? I noticed that you have a band that you play live with now.
Absofacto: My band is mostly for playing live, although I plan to work with them more in the future. I do have a main collaborator (in the studio), my friend, Kosuke Kasza. I work on all the songs with him. We’ve been friends for over a decade; I’ve known him since he worked with the first indie label that I was signed to.
DK: On your EP Thousand Peaces, you also collaborated with Herizen (female artist & actress) on the song, “Done With Love.” How did you connect with her?
Absofacto: I was a fan of the TV show she was on, The Get Down (on Netflix), where she was the female lead. She ended up working with a friend of mine, and he connected us. And I ended up doing production and writing with her on her entire EP (called Come Over To My House), as well as having her on my song.
I love collaborating with other artists and writers. Kosuke and I worked on a song called “Starry Eyes” for a Canadian artist, Young Bombs. And I produced and co-wrote a song called “Try Again” for the band, Chef’s Special.