Ken Caillat

During the [1975] tour, we had stopped off to do a show for King Biscuit Flower Hour and I had to find a place to re-mix it because it had been recorded very poorly," remembers Richard Dashut. "I ended up at Wally Heider's Studio primarily because it was available and had a good mixdown room. So, I come walking into the room with two tapes in my hands and there sits Ken. I sat down to begin work and I was feeling a little nervous. I introduced myself as an engineer, he said the same and we sat silent for a few minutes. Then he asked me if I smoked weed, and I said, "Yeah." He followed up by asking if I wanted to get high and . . . we became fast friends. We put the tapes aside for a few minutes, smoked a joint and spent most of the night mixing tapes. The band liked the job and they liked Ken, I liked Ken, everybody liked Ken."

In early 1976, Fleetwood Mac headed into a Sausalito studio to record their sophomore effort with the Buckingham-Fleetwood-McVie-McVie-Nicks line-up, with the players gamely trying to wade through personal problems to work together, but without a production/engineering team firmly in place. When Richard Dashut was unexpectedly handed the production reins by Mick Fleetwood, he called upon the good engineer and friend that everyone liked, Ken Caillat, for help. "[A]nd we started co-producing [Rumours]. Mick gave me and Ken each an old Chinese I-Ching coin and said, Good luck."

With luck and good experience at his disposal, Ken Caillat co-produced and co-engineered Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album and continued in the same role for Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, Live and Mirage albums. Though they shared in production and engineering, Caillat took the lead in engineering. "Ken has always been a fiddler. You know the kind of guy who likes to put together models and take apart clocks." In 1979, Dashut recalled, "We have no defenses and no egos to protect. That's the key. Attitude is the most important thing in the studio. We learn from each other."

His knowledge about how to get sounds recorded made Caillat an integral part of the team behind the mixing desk during those recordings. Lindsey Buckingham remembers the recording of Go Your Own Way: "I really think Ken Caillat did a great job of getting the sound that solo needed. It defined an approach for years to come."

Early in his work with Fleetwood Mac, during those Rumours sessions, Caillat also proved invaluable in overcoming what seemed like insurmountable technical problems.
Mirage
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
He performed the laborious 14-hour process of manually transferring previously saved drum tracks to a master album track (without a sync pulse to lock the two machines together), because the master track's drum sounds had lost the crisp sound quality needed. This was a process Buckingham recalls as "a task I can't even imagine having worked." But it saved the day. "People thought we were crazy, but it turned out really good," remembers Dashut.

Ken recalls simply being impressed with the talent, material and perseverance of the band: "'Dreams' . . . you've got a signature John McVie/Mick Fleetwood drum/bassline . . . 'Dreams' is a great example of a band just pulling it together. Stevie and Lindsey, when they were solo, lived together, and Stevie would wrap her voice around Lindsey's so well. He'd do harmonies with her; She'd do harmonies with him. It was a great blend. When they joined Fleetwood Mac, Christine came in and the three of them created this sound that was amazing. It was even more amazing for me because they often times had to sing on one mike or three mikes in the same room, looking at each other, and you can imagine all the turmoil they were going through when all their relationships were breaking up. And through all the turmoil they'd come out with vocals that sound like this."

Caillat's inspired idea for recording "Songbird" live, in one take, is a highlight he particularly remembers and it's one that demonstrates his shared sensibility about what High Fidelity Magazine described in 1982 about Fleetwood Mac productions: "[W]ith all those technical considerations, Dashut and Caillat consistently echo Buckingham's credo, which holds that equipment is less important than the songs and their performance."

Caillat: "Songbird was a great moment for me. As I recall, everybody had gone home or were leaving. Christine was noodling out in the studio and playing this song. I had the mikes up and listened. I didn't know what she was playing, but it was gorgeous. That song required the depth of a concert hall. I had recorded Joni Mitchell at Berkeley Community Theater. I remember that Berkeley Community Theater was the best live recording . . . . and so we called over to Berkeley Community and it was not available . . . they said, 'hey, there's Zellerbach Auditorium down the street.' So we set up the truck and made the plans. We ordered the orchestral shell. I talked to the prop guy and I said, 'give us three spots and focus them on the piano,' and we ordered a dozen roses and they were laying there for her. She came out and she just went, "Oh my God.'"

Though not involved in studio albums with Fleetwood Mac after 1982's Mirage, Ken was producer, engineer and tape researcher for Fleetwood Mac's 1992 box set release, Fleetwood Mac: 25 Years, The Chain. He also devised the digital album sequencing program used in compiling that collection. In 1997, he took part in the "Classic Albums: Fleetwood Mac Rumours" video release, recounting stories and discussing the creation process of the songs on the Rumours album.

Before lending his talents to Fleetwood Mac, Ken Caillat earned a BSC from the University of Santa Clara. He had a healthy background in recording live performances for the likes of Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash, among others. "Doing 'live' sound enables you to develop a keen sense of how to handle problems immediately as they arise and Ken is good at that. He keeps himself covered and
Mirage
Mirage - Fleetwood Mac
has control over what he wants," says Dashut. Caillat has also been involved as a producer, engineer or mixer for several other artists like, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Robbie Patton, George Carlin, Harry Chapin, Gordon Goodwin, and has worked on various compilations.

An innovator, Caillat created and developed "Spherical Sound," a three dimensional sound imaging process used on Michael Jackson's Bad and Pink Floyd's Momentary Lapse of Reason albums. Caillat is also the developer and patent holder of "Quake Awake," an earthquake early detection technology now marketed worldwide.

Most recently, Ken has been pioneering the use of 5.1 stereo surround sound. He is a founding partner and President of 5.1 Digital Production Services. He is Executive Producer and Director of over 50 Enhanced CDs and CD-ROMs. He's been at the helm of the ongoing 5.1 re-mixing projects, including Fleetwood Mac's Rumours DVD Audio, released in the spring of 2001. Ken explains, "You get so much of the dynamic range, you can feel the air in the room. You can actually walk around the room and listen from different points of view. You can hear the lead and back-up vocalist, the percussionist and the acoustic guitar player through different speakers . . . . On DVD-A surround mixes we've done of Fleetwood Mac and Billy Idol, we've been able to bring out instrumental parts that had to be buried in the stereo mix. The sound is so real, it brought tears to the eyes of John and Christine McVie. "The thing about 5.1 is we think this is what it should be like. Like being in the studio or at a live performance--we listen in real life in 360. Everyone who hears Rumours says 'I can hear things I didn't know were in that mix.' It was in the mix, but it is right there now."

The company has licensed over 240 48-track masters of classical recordings by the London Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras and is in talks with several major labels to remix a significant number of classic pop and other genre recordings for release on DVD.

immergent Records, an independent label with a philosophy of artist development, is a division of the 5.1 Entertainment Group which also owns the Silverline and Electromatrix record labels. Caillat's Fleetwood Mac cohort, Dashut, is Vice President of A&R at immergent. Caillat says "our label's all about the music and artist relationships.'' In early 2001, immergent signed platinum artist Dishwalla, Venice Underground featuring Peter DiStefano (Porno For Pyros), and the upcoming alternative band Bird. Ken Caillat has been an active member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) for over twenty years.


Privacy Statement
Copyright 1995-2002, Martin and Lisa Adelson, All Rights Reserved.