|Birth name||Craig Abaya|
|Born||San Francisco, California|
|Genres||Alternative rock, rock and roll, pop, grunge, heavy metal, Americana|
|Occupations||Musician, singer, songwriter, music producer, recording engineer, filmmaker, photographer, designer, educator|
|Associated acts||The Basics
Kenney Dale Johnson
Craig Abaya is an independent artist from San Francisco, California. In music, he is a singer, musician, songwriter, producer and engineer. In film, he directs music performance and interview videos of musical celebrities as well as his own music videos. As a concert photographer, his portfolio includes a veritable Who's Who of popular music. He is also a designer and educator, serving as the Director of Digital Media & Entertainment Programs for San Francisco State University San Francisco State University Extended Learning.
Growing up in San Francisco's Bernal Heights and Mission Districts, Craig was exposed to a variety of cultures and perspectives. His nanny, Margie Williams, a Creole, is the reason for his slight southern accent at the age of four. Primarily Filipino in heritage, Craig's bloodline also includes Spanish, German, Chinese and Indian.
Craig recounts his musical background as "Guitar at 12, Drums at 11, Piano at 6, Voice at birth." He played with neighborhood bands starting at the age of nine and went on to form the hard rock trio, "Apparition" singing, playing lead guitar and writing the songs. At the same time, he wrote and played, primarily piano-based, songs for the local youth choir.
When Craig was nine years old, his brother, then a yearbook photographer at University of San Francisco, bought him his first point-and-shoot camera. Notable pictures from this camera were a local police chase and drug bust and a live concert featuring The Tubes and Eddie Money.
At twelve he set out to peddle some vintage comics he purchased cheap from the local Mom & Pop's in order to raise funds for his first movie camera. As he did with music, he invited his friends to join in on the creative activities. This time, creating short humorous films and animations.
At seventeen, Craig enrolled at San Francisco State University. As he was constantly performing with his band and with the youth choir, he was ambivalent about earning his bachelors. Initially a Psychology major, Craig learned that he could propose a special major. He'd been reading about research in digital technologies for recording and video. With advice from American Zoetrope film producer, Fred Roos and his assistant, Craig proposed a major in multimedia. To do this, he selected courses from the departments of Cinema, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, Design & Industry (electronics) and Computer Science. However, as there was no curriculum in digital video and audio, he learned a great deal through personal research.
In 1999, Craig was serving as multimedia instructor at Silicon Valley College, SFSU Multimedia Studies Program and SFSU Corporate Training when he was asked to launch and run SFSU's Web Design Intensive program. For two years, his professional life was immersed in running the program, teaching and coordinating local non-profit agencies as clients for his student web design teams. In 2000, Apple Computer (Apple, Inc.) contracted Craig to help develop a Web Design curriculum for Florida's Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Miami-Dade County Public Schools).
In 2001, the college accepted his proposal to develop a Digital Video Intensive program where students could learn all the ins and outs of filmmaking in 16 weeks. Here he brought in colleagues from the film, television and multimedia industries; most notably Philip J. Gallegos (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Mark Devito (TechTV). He launched the DVI in the spring of 2002. This was both the final semester of the Web Design Intensive and the year he began to take over the Multimedia Studies Program.
In 2002, Craig was approached by Apple Computer (for whom he acted as a consultant) with an opportunity that started his practice of merging his music industry and education endeavors. With a team of DVI students ("DVants") and 13 sponsors (including Apple), he directed "Bruce Hornsby Live at Villa Montalvo" for DIRECTV.
Craig is also the digital media specialist for The Bridge School. Here, Craig serves as the director of The Bridge School News Network which includes exclusive backstage interviews from The Bridge School Benefit. The interviewers for the series are students and graduates of The Bridge School. Artists have included Elton John, Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin and Bridge School co-founder and supporter, Neil Young. Craig also serves as the Benefit's official concert photographer.
Craig also serves as producer/director of concert videos, interviews and pre-concert talks at San Francisco's legendary Stern Grove Festival.
Independent Musical Artist
Born into a household that featured a piano, analog tape recorders and a record player, it was not long before Craig began creating and learning on his own. He wired cassette decks together and took advantage of his parents' 2-track recording deck to produce multitrack recordings. He began composing songs on the piano at 9 and on his first guitar at 12. This led to jamming with friends from Bernal Heights and nearby Inner and Outer Mission districts.
During his teens, he formed his first professional band, the grunge/metal trio "Apparition" in Daly City, California. Here he played searing guitar and singing for young fans throughout the Bay Area. At this time he also served as the singer/songwriter/musician for the local church youth group, performing mostly on piano.
After disbanding "Apparition," Craig acquired his own recording equipment and founded the 4-piece group "The Basics" and later, "Abaya," in an attempt to merge the extremes of his two divergent musical endeavors. Both bands received considerable attention from the Filipino press including The Philippine News and Filipinas Magazine and developed an entirely new following. At this time, his unreleased recordings received their first review from Recording Magazine where they wrote, "Everything about the songs and the recording are big!"
In 2009, Craig released his first solo album, The Fine Art of Politics, recording and mixing on his Mac laptop, playing several instruments and featuring many Bay Area notables including Myron Dove (Santana), Eric McCann (Clarence Clemmons and the Redbank Rockers) and Kenney Dale Johnson (Chris Isaak). Also featured on backing vocals for the song "When Change Comes" is Craig's first cousin, JoAnne Lorenzana, the Philippine pop/jazz singing star, who immigrated to the U.S. in 2005. The recordings were mastered by Bay Area mastering engineer, Michael Romanowski, who served, briefly, as bass player for "Abaya." Craig also directed and edited his first music video of the song "Silly Sentimental Fool" for release in 2010.
From these sessions, the song and recording of "This Jail I Made" was not included on the album. However, it received rave reviews from Recording Magazine editor and TAXI founder, Michael Laskow, who wrote, "This guy has ALL his ducks in a row!" The songs themselves received much praise, garnering awards in songwriting including several from Billboard Magazine. Bay Area radio personality (and last person to interview John Lennon), Dave Sholin, upon hearing a rough version of "Touch Me" responded by saying, "That singer has a lot on the ball." and "You're writing a great story, now make it a great novel!" Songs from the album have received airplay on alternative rock stations the Philippines and college radio in the U.S.
- Abaya is a Grammy voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Science (NARAS) and a publisher/writer member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
- Young, Neil. "Waging Heavy Peace". Photo credit
- Jones, Gerald. Real World Digital Video. Craig Abaya interviewed on companion DVD, chapter contributor.
- Garvey, Mark. Come Together: The Official John Lennon Educational Tour Bus Guide to Music and Video. Photo credit
- Driver, Dustin. "Craig Abaya: Shooting Stars".
- "Digital Dynamo" Feature Story SF State News
- Craig at SFSU Experts Page.
- Craig Abaya IMDB Listing.