Craig Russo (also known as Sayr) is an American electronic music producer and songwriter who was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California.
Sayr started out as an electronic music live performance artist and DJ in the late 1990's, playing underground parties in San Francisco, Burning Man, and other music gatherings and festivals on the west coast.
He has released music under the artist name of Sayr since 2001 and has collaborated with several known artists and composers, including Bassnectar, Buckethead, DJ Colette, Michael Franti (Spearhead), Stephen Marley, Kool Keith, Skye Sweetnam, Crash Berlin. He has also co-produced music with Grammy Award winning composer, Michael Giacchino.
Craig Russo is also a composer and songwriter. He has co-written songs with the UK’s top recording artist,
Robbie Williams. Two of these songs were released on his two final albums with EMI, and one of those songs, (“Bodies”) went on to become his best selling single in 10 years. Craig has worked with composer, Michael Giacchino, creating music for the Space Mountain rides at Disney parks worldwide.
He has spent most of the past decade working in music studios as a producer & writer as well as doing mixing & mastering for other artists.
In 2016, Craig and long-time friend / musical cohort, Lorin Ashton (of Bassnectar) teamed up to form a project, called Naux Faux. Their first EP album “Enchanted” was released on Valentines Day 2018.
Sayr also released his first solo album, “Sudden Stops” in early 2018.
When Craig was 7 years old, he first sat and played piano in school and quickly realized he could play melodies from songs he had heard on the radio, from memory. He was encouraged by his teacher to take piano lessons and pursue music.
At age 13, Craig showed up at a secret skateboard spot and found a group of older kids shredding like pro’s while blaring Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and “Ride the Lightning” at full volume on their boombox. The combination of incredible skating and Metallica’s music was so energizing and inspiring that Craig felt like he was struck by lightning.
The distorted guitar sound was like a siren, luring Craig into the world of electric guitar-driven music. His Dad saw how interested he was and took him pawn shopping for an electric guitar and amp. From there, Craig took a few months of guitar lessons and learned enough to go out on his own and progress by studying his favorite artists’ albums and practicing guitar many hours each day.
From that point, Craig made music his passion and pursued it in every way possible. He promptly discovered that heavy metal was only an entry point into the endless universe of music and he began to expand his library and influences to include as much variety as possible.
Electronic music had a bad rap though and it wasn’t until after he graduated High School in Santa Cruz, CA in the mid 90's, that Craig discovered the new and thriving San Francisco Rave Party culture, where he was again blown away by the energy of a new form of music, which led to an epiphany or change of heart.
This spawned his desire to make mind-expanding music that was augmented by the use of sculpted synthesized sounds and sequenced drums, combined with real instruments like guitars and vocals and is what led Craig to begin saving up money and collecting synthesizers, samplers and sequencing/recording gear.
He started with analog hardware, (like vintage synthesizers, samplers and drum machines) and then later incorporated software-based sequencers, synths and effects as they became widely available.
Since the SF Bay Area had quite a few companies making music gear, Craig pursued work in the music equipment industry and ended up working for various manufacturers, developing synthesizers, synth patches, sound & sample libraries and doing various technical contributions to new products as they released them.
Coming from the background of musical live performance and the “tape recorder” approach to studio productions, when creating music, Craig prefers taking a hands-on, performance based approach to composition.
He often combines that with experimentation, letting explorations in techniques or processing lead to otherwise unattainable results.
Craig likes to work with vintage analog hardware devices that have built-in pattern sequencers or arpeggiators and patch them all together in new ways, synchronizing and slaving them to each other’s clocks and the computer sequencer, which allows for live performance and sometimes random organic movements, while putting a song or musical piece together on a computer sequencer.
He also loves using “found sounds” in music, or taking a microphone & audio recorder out to the forest and making “field recordings” of waterfalls, creeks, bird song or insect ambience or capturing nice reverbs of a tunnel or empty building, or the echo under a bridge, and incorporating those sounds and ambient noise into music.
If Sayr were to strive for a "sound", it would be heavily melodic and the intention would be to inspire free thought and introspection, and to leave room for the listener to create their own visions, stories and memories around the music.
Craig uses the Burl Audio B80 Mothership (ultra high-end recording A/D & D/A Convertors), B32 Vancouver Summing Bus (analog mix) - outboard mastering processors, like the Manley Vari-Mu (stereo tube compressor), Dangerous Music Mastering Compressor, Moog Sub 37, Kush Audio Clariphonic & Electra EQ's and others.
He loves his 92' PRS guitar, trusty 12-string (as heard on Bassnectar & Sayr’s “Enter the Chamber”), vintage and modern analog synthesizers and even has a highly rare Devilfish Roland TB-303 Bassline.