Craig Abaya

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Craig Abaya
CraigInteview09 01.jpg
Background information
Birth name Craig Abaya
Born San Francisco, California
Genres Alternative rock, rock and roll, pop, grunge, heavy metal, Americana, neo-classical music
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, composer, music producer, recording engineer, filmmaker, photographer, graphic designer, educator
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, drums, bass, percussion, electronic keyboards
Labels ARTifice Music
Associated acts

• Jack Shiner


Craig Abaya is a celebrated multi-artist from San Francisco, California. He is a singer, musician, songwriter, producer, filmmaker, photographer, and graphic designer.[1] He also served as director of Digital Media & Education Programs for San Francisco State University Extended Learning. He has won ten Billboard songwriting awards.

Early life[edit]

Abaya is a native of San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood.[2] He became involved with music during childhood, taking up the piano at age six, the drums at age eleven, and the guitar at age twelve. He became involved in film and photography at the age of nine.[2]

At seventeen, Abaya enrolled at San Francisco State University. Initially a psychology major, he ultimately proposed a special major in multimedia, combining studies in film, video, computers and electronics.[3]


Craig Abaya

Abaya is a singer and cites his main instruments as guitar, piano, and drums. Although there is no direct influence on his passion for music, he would often hear his mother, a classical pianist, play the family piano. He also took up recording from a young age, moving from 2- and 4-track analog tape to ADAT and eventually to DAWs (digital audio workstations). At 17, he formed his first professional band, the grunge/metal trio "Apparition." At this time, he also wrote and performed music with the local church youth choir. After disbanding "Apparition," he founded the 4-piece group "The Basics" and later, "Abaya," in an attempt to merge his divergent musical interests. He has won numerous songwriting awards in various genres, including 10 from Billboard Magazine.[2]

In 2009, Abaya released his first solo album, The Fine Art of Politics. Abaya also directed and edited his first music video of the song "Silly Sentimental Fool" for release in 2010.

In 2014, he composed and played guitars and bass on the DJ Qbert album Extraterrestria. In 2016 Craig began work on his 2nd solo album along with a duet album with JoAnne Lorenzana.

In 2016, he composed and performed the orchestral music score to the film, Ambush.

In 2018, Abaya was elected board member to the newly created San Francisco Bay Area Music Foundation.

Abaya is a Grammy voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.


Abaya started making films at age 9, starting with The Battle of McLaren Park, in which he spliced a scene of Clint Eastwood as a bomber pilot from 1950s sci-fi film, Tarantula and earning his first television screen credit from films he shot age 12.[4]

In 2002, Apple, Inc. approached Abaya with an opportunity to make a feature film with his student crew. With a team of students and sponsors, he directed Bruce Hornsby Live at Villa Montalvo for DIRECTV.[5]

In 2003, Abaya served as concert shoot director for the feature, Joan Armatrading, All the Way from America.

In 2006, Abaya became the producer/director of the Stern Grove Festival web series of videos including live performances, artist talks, and interviews. Joining him is his long time friend and collaborator, Philip J. Gallegos.

In 2008, after having served as their live concert photographer for many years, Abaya became the resident filmmaker and concert photographer at the Bridge School. The school, which is for children with severe speech and physical impairments, was founded by Neil Young and Pegi Young.[3]

In 2016, Abaya served as director of photography, first assistant director, editor, and music composer for the 2017 neo-noir film, Ambush.[6]

In 2018, Abaya Craig and 9 camera film crew filmed The Bammies Reunion Concert, featuring, Narada Michael Walden, Neal Schon, Sammy Hagar, Eddie Money, Pablo Cruise, Jefferson Starship and Brandeis Marin.

Craig is a new media council member of the Producers Guild of America.


Craig became interested in photography at age 9 when he received his first point-and-shoot camera. Among his first photos were shots of the aftermath of a police chase including officers making an arrest.

Music being his first love, he wanted to capture some of his musical heroes. For years he did so with borrowed photographic equipment but eventually purchased his first 35mm camera. His early photos included such musical artists as The Who, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Alice Cooper, Tina Turner, Chris Isaak, Elton John, Tom Petty, Leon Russell and Heart. Occasionally, he would have the opportunity to meet and photograph non-music based celebrities including Gilda Radner and Monty Python’s Michael Palin.

In 2000, The Bridge School invited Craig to be their official concert photographer.

In 2006, published an interview with Craig about his photography.[7]

In 2013, San Francisco's MacWorld Expo made Craig their featured artist with a gallery of his concert films and photography entitled Craig Abaya: The Art of Rock'N'Roll from Analog to Digital.[8]

Craig’s photos have appeared in L.A. Times, Gentry Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine, and other publications.


Abaya earned his first teaching experience at SFSU's Graduate Film school while he was still an undergraduate,[3] but eventually took a full-time position teaching in Silicon Valley.[9] Eventually, he moved to SFSU College of Extended Learning where he directed the Multimedia Studies Program, Music/Recording Industry Program, Digital Video Intensive, and Web Design Intensive.[10]


  1. ^ Springer, Denize (December 20, 2004). "People on campus: digital dynamo Craig Abaya". San Francisco State University Campus Memo. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Fil-Am is 10-time Billboard honoree". The Philippine Star. January 3, 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Multimedia Studies: Faculty". San Francisco State University. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Fast Track to a Web Career". Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "Bruce Hornsby Live at Villa Montalvo". SF Visuals. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ [citation needed]"Ambush on IMDB". Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "About Me". Craig Abaya's Personal Website. Craig Abaya. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Fast Track to a Web Career". Apple. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 

External links[edit]