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Hal Cragin

Artist Info
Hal Cragin

bassist, composer, producer and songwriter

M-Audio Gear :
Audiophile 2496

Official Website:

Hal Cragin’s background as a writer/bass player has been for such acts as They Might Be Giants, Vic Chestnut, Beth Orton, Sarah McLachlan, Rufus Wainwright and Frank Black to name just a few, as well as long-time collaborator Iggy Pop.

Starting out in Boston, Cragin was nominated for a Grammy award with the group Rubber Rodeo, on Polygram Records. Cragin became a regular studio bass player for Q Division Studios and briefly formed a group with Jon Brion and Mike Denneen called The World’s Fair. At this time he also started a band called Too Happy with Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie).

Cragin moved to New York City where he played on countless sessions as well as a weekly show with actor Dennis Leary. Soon after moving to the city, Cragin began to play with Iggy Pop and did many tours and three records on Virgin with him. He reacquainted himself with John Flansburgh and formed the group Monopuff—that collaboration led to writing and playing with They Might Be Giants.

Cragin made his solo mark in New York City’s East Village with a residency at the Avenue B Social Club in 1998. That core group contributed to Hal’s Immaculate Contraption CD. Cragin then moved to Los Angeles and has split his time since then on both coasts as well as in Europe playing and recording.

Hal Cragin
Bassist (They Might Be Giants, Sarah McLachlan, Rufus Wainwright)

Cragin on M-Audio hardware: “My primary keyboard controller is a Radium 61, which I use with a Digidesign HD2 system—those are the two cornerstones of my setup. A lot goes on with the Radium because I use it for playing software synths as well as for controlling MIDI parameters with the knobs. I used my Radium for all of the keyboard soft synths on a project called A Fine Frenzy for Virgin Records.

“As many composers do, I have a second workstation with an Audiophile 2496 card as the interface to my Pro Tools M-Powered rig. I really like this interface because I can do both MIDI and digital information with it. The Audiophile is great and the price is incredible—just by using it and a computer you can set up a dedicated world-class convolution reverb to integrate into your system.

“I use an Oxygen 8 v2 controller as a bass synth controller on my gigs because it is very portable, as well as to mock up strings that I did at Capitol Studio B with David Campbell. My road rig is centered around the Oxygen 8 because often I make music for commercials or television shows while I'm in my hotel room. One time I needed to turn around a new piece of music for a commercial but didn't have my Oxygen 8 with me—fortunately I bought one nearby to use with my laptop and finished just in time!”

Cragin on M-Audio software: “Pro Tools and Pro Tools M-Powered are absolutely essential for my production—ask anyone in the industry and they will agree. It’s the greatest time for music creation and having software tools like Pro Tools let me imagine any musical notion I may have. Most of my Pro Tools productions have DigiRack plug-ins on them and if I go to collaborate I know that the session will load up the same.”

His songwriting process: “I have always had a recording setup of some kind. Today is really a great time for home recording—there are great choices out there. I always start writing on an instrument but have the connectivity ready to go for keeping things. I like figuring out what works early on to dictate the next round of choices—I think that first takes are very important. M-Audio’s tools have really helped turn my studio into an unbelievable instrument that is simple and very sophisticated at the same time.”

Why M-Audio? “Everything I'm doing involves M-Audio. If I were on an island, I could do it all with just M-Audio. I watched M-Audio grow and integrate with Digidesign, so I felt I picked a winning company since I had bought the early products that I still use today. M-Audio is a problem solving company for me. Connectivity in a composing studio is everything and M-Audio has each part of it dialed in.”