|Born||1951 (age 69–70)|
|Genres||Pop, rock, Latin, R&B, jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Music producer, music mixer|
|Years active||1973 – present|
|Associated acts||Celine Dion, Chicago, Quincy Jones, David Foster|
Humberto Gatica is a Chilean-born American recording engineer, mixing engineer and record producer, best known for his work with Celine Dion, Chicago, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. Gatica's international collaborations include producing artists singing in over six languages.
Gatica's career is highlighted by humanitarian projects including We Are the World, We Are The World 25 for Haiti, Hands Across America and Voces Unidas Por Chile. He has received 17 Grammy Awards and 24 nominations.
Early life and career
Gatica was born in Rancagua, Chile in a musical family. His grandparents owned a bar in Rancagua where they played the piano and the harp. His uncles Arturo, Orlando, María and Lucho Gatica were singers. Lucho Gatica is widely known in Latin America as the “King of Bolero”.
At age 9, Gatica's father died of an illness and his mother had to travel to the United States to look for employment. He moved in with his grandmother. Passionate about music, he taught himself to play the guitar at age 13. He describes that he particularly liked how the bathroom at his grandmother's house resonated when he played the guitar.
At age 16, after the death of his grandmother, Gatica decided to leave Chile. His Aunt Yolanda gave him the equivalent of 20 dollars. He gathered enough money to fly to Mexico City and then took a bus to Los Angeles. He reunited with his mother and younger brother and started working at a warehouse during the day and in a parking lot at night.
Four years later, in 1972, while Lucho Gatica was in Los Angeles, he called his nephew Humberto asking him to meet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Lucho Gatica asked Humberto to take him to MGM Recording Studio. Two months later, Humberto was invited to a recording session with Sammy Davis Jr., an artist he used to listen to with his grandmother in Rancagua. Gatica describes this experience:
“From that moment on I was completely in love with the whole world of recording. The studio manager allowed me to become an intern and I did everything from cleaning to changing lightbulbs”.— Humberto Gatica
Gatica gradually became an assistant engineer at MGM. In 1973, the recording engineer for a session with producer Don Costa was ill. Too late to cancel the session, Costa decided to “take his chances with the kid” and gave Gatica the opportunity of engineering the big band session with 40 people. He continued engineering for Costa afterwards.
When MGM Recording Studio was sold a year later, Gatica was laid off. He became a freelance engineer and started working with producers David Foster and Quincy Jones alongside engineer Bruce Swedien. Gatica was once spotted at Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood engineering three sessions at the same time for Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins and Chicago.
In 1974, Gatica engineered the album “Elis & Tom” by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina. His work with Brazilian artists also includes Djavan's “A Voz, O Violão, A Música de Djavan” and “Lilas” albums, Paulinho Da Costa's “Agora”, Gilberto Gil's “Realce” and “Luar (A Gente Precisa Ver o Luar)” and Simone's “La Distancia”.
Gatica started collaborating with producer David Foster in the late 70s. Spanning over 25 years, they produced multi-platinum albums and singles including Chicago's 17 album, Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On”, Josh Groban's “Noël”, Michael Bublé's “Crazy Love” and Andrea Bocelli's “The Prayer”. Foster describes his workflow with Gatica in an interview from 1984:
“Hum is becoming a co-producer. It’s not even that he learned it from me; we’ve learned from each other. (…) When Hum’s in the studio with me, he’s working with me, not for me. As I’m about to reach to turn up the vocals just a little bit more, he does it. Or about to turn up the Rhodes a little bit more in the (head)phones because the singer is singing a little out of tune, he does it… with no communications”.— David Foster
Gatica shares his point of view:
“I have been absorbing the way David produces. I admire what he does, so it is easy for me to put my feelings into the creative circumstance.”— Humberto Gatica
In 1985, he won his first Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical for Chicago's album 17. He was the recording engineer for Michael Jackson's albums Thriller and Bad. Gatica won his second Grammy Award for Bad, also in the category of Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical.
In 2013, Gatica, along with KC Porter, produced Lucho Gatica's “Historia de un Amor”. It was the last album that Lucho Gatica recorded. Gatica commissioned Jorge Calandrelli with the arrangements. Together, they chose the guest performer for each song. The album consists of duets performing Latin-American standards and features artists Laura Pausini, Nelly Furtado, Il Volo, Michael Bublé, Lucero, Luis Fonsi, Miguel Bosé, among others.
In recent years, Gatica has focused on producing projects that highlight vocal performance. Gatica describes these as “artists who perform melodies that really make you feel”. Gatica was a judge at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in 2000, 2005 and 2019.
In 2019, Gatica, along with Frédéric Gassita, produced Nigerian singer Timi Dakolo's “Merry Christmas Darling”. The album featured Emeli Sandé, Kenny G, Eric Benét and The Eben Voices of Gabon Choir. Co-executively produced by Ali Bongo Ondimba and Efe Ogbeni, the album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and additional studios in Libreville, Budapest and Lagos.
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gatica has worked on Groban's upcoming album “Harmony”, set to be released in November 2020. The album includes standards like “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “She”. Groban describes the album as evoking “a feeling of hope, a feeling of togetherness”.
Gatica's work as producer and engineer on humanitarian projects includes “We Are The World”, “We Are The World 25 for Haiti”, “Hands Across America”, “Hermanos”, “Voices That Care” and “Voces Unidas Por Chile”.
Gatica recorded the supergroup USA for Africa for “We Are The World”, produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. It sold over 7 million records worldwide and raised 60 million dollars, destined to feed people affected by the famine in Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985.
Gatica recorded “Voices That Care”, featuring artists including Meryl Streep, Kevin Costner, Garth Brooks, Julio Iglesias and The Beach Boys, produced by David Foster. The song was meant as an apolitical anthem to boost the morale of military personnel deployed during the Gulf crisis of 1991 and offer their families emotional support.
A 25th anniversary re-recording of “We Are The World” was being planned when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti. The aim of the project shifted to fundraising efforts to assist the survivors. “We Are The World 25 for Haiti”, also produced by Quincy Jones, was recorded by Gatica featuring over 50 artists including Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber, T-Pain, Will.I.Am and Wyclef Jean. It debuted during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The same year, on February 27, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Gatica's native Chile. Supported by the National Council for Culture and Arts (Consejo nacional de la Cultura y las Artes, CNCA), Gatica produced the song “Gracias a la Vida” (Thanks To Life), recorded by supergroup “Voces Unidas por Chile” (United Voices for Chile). Featured artists included Beto Cuevas, Juanes, Alejandro Sanz, Juan Luis Guerra, Laura Pausini, Fher, Shakira, Michael Bublé and Miguel Bosé. The song was released digitally in a fundraising effort for the survivors. Besides fundraising, Gatica's goal was to leave a legacy for the Chilean youth and inspire others to help through the arts.
Gatica explains that his focus when producing is arrangement and performance:
“After the sound (…) is set, I let go and completely disconnect myself from that aspect. After that, all I think about is the creative aspect, the feel, the arrangement, what the arrangement is doing to the melody, how it is affecting the vocal performance”.— Humberto Gatica
In an interview in 1981, Gatica explains his role as an engineer when working with another producer. After analyzing a few instructions given by the producer, Gatica understands what his creative goal is. He makes sure the producer is pleased but he also goes beyond the technical role.
Gatica describes his mixes in a visual way. When mixing his first record for Michael Jackson, Jackson said to Gatica: “great, you work in colors”. “It’s my life”, Gatica replied. He describes the instruments in a mix in terms of a three-dimensional space:
“Parts require a height, width and depth in order to take on a living quality. The longer the effect like echo, delay and reverb, the farther back the part goes. Height is controlled by the range of frequencies from low to high and width by the panning spread”.— Humberto Gatica
Gatica points out that he is often concerned about clarity in his records. When mixing, he starts with the lead vocal:
“The first thing I do (…) is work on the vocal. Everything has to sound good around the vocal. When I’ve gotten the vocal to sound right and the foundation is there, the mix becomes more fun and there is room to be creative and expressive (…).”— Humberto Gatica
He lists the kick drum, the snare drum and the bass as the foundation of a mix. According to Gatica, these elements are responsible for the first impression on the listener.
When recording brass instruments, Gatica places the players in a “U” shape instead of having them stand side by side, as they normally do when playing live. He then positions individual microphones for the saxophones and trombones, as well as a single microphone for each of the trumpets. An additional microphone hung about 9 feet high the middle captures all the horns and adds “fullness the sound” according to Gatica. He used this same setup when recording brass with Chicago's 16. Because the band's brass section consists of only one trumpet, one saxophone and a trombone, four microphones were used in total: one for each instrument plus the additional microphone in the center.
Gatica works with a hybrid system combining digital recording and analog signal processing. He points out that he prefers analog processors especially when working with artists like Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Michael Bublé.
Gatica has won 17 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards. In 2007, Humberto Gatica was with his uncle Lucho Gatica on stage when the latter received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 8th Latin Grammys. 8 years later, at the 16th Latin Grammys, Humberto Gatica received the Trustees Award. The award was presented by Celine Dion and Neil Portnow. On stage, Dion described Gatica's work with her starting at her first recording session in English:
“He has (been) able to go beyond technology and practice magic. It’s a special talent, it’s generosity, a bit of magic, a lot of love and friendship. I honestly think that Humberto has been singing with me through all those years”.— Celine Dion
|1985||Hard Habit To Break||Chicago||Record Of The Year||Engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|17||Chicago||Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical||Engineer, mixer||Won|
|1986||We Are The World||USA For Africa, Various Artists||Album Of The Year||Engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|1987||David Foster||David Foster||Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|1988||Bad||Michael Jackson||Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical||Engineer||Won|
|1997||Falling Into You||Celine Dion||Album Of The Year||Producer, engineer||Won|
|Falling Into You||Celine Dion||Best Pop Album||Producer, engineer||Won|
|1998||The Day||Babyface||Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical||Engineer||Nominated|
|1999||My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from Titanic)||Celine Dion||Record Of The Year||Producer, engineer, mixer||Won|
|Let's Talk About Love||Celine Dion||Best Pop Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|2001||Uno||La Ley||Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album||Producer, engineer, Mixer||Won|
|2006||It's Time||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, Mixer||Nominated|
|2007||Caught In The Act||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, Mixer||Nominated|
|2008||Call Me Irresponsible||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Won|
|2009||Noël||Josh Groban||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|2010||Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, mixer||Won|
|2011||Crazy Love||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Won|
|2016||Stages||Josh Groban||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|2017||Stages Live||Josh Groban||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|Cinema||Andrea Bocelli||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer||Nominated|
|2018||Nobody But Me (Deluxe Version)||Michael Bublé||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Engineer||Nominated|
Latin Grammy Awards
|2002||Yo Por Ti||Olga Tañón||Best Merengue Album||Producer, mixer||Won|
|MTV Unplugged||La Ley||Best Rock Album By A Duo Or Group With Vocal||Producer, engineer||Won|
|Mentira||La Ley||Record Of The Year||Producer, engineer||Nominated|
|MTV Unplugged||Alejandro Sanz||Album Of The Year||Producer, engineer, mixer||Won|
|Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte||Alejandro Sanz||Record Of The Year||Producer, engineer, mixer||Won|
|N/A||N/A||Producer Of The Year||Producer||Nominated|
|2004||Ámate y Sálvate||La Ley||Best Rock Song||Composer, producer, engineer||Nominated|
|Libertad||La Ley||Best Rock Album By A Duo Or Group With Vocal||Producer, engineer||Won|
|2006||Amore||Andrea Bocelli||Best Engineered Album||Producer, mixer||Nominated|
|2008||Vive Ya (Vivere)||Andrea Bocelli and Laura Pausini||Record Of The Year||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|David Cavazos||David Cavazos||Best Engineered Album||Producer, engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|Rhythm & Romance||Kenny G||Best Engineered Album||Engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|2011||Días Nuevos||Gian Marco||Best Engineered Album||Engineer, mixer||Nominated|
|2014||Amor En Portofino||Andrea Bocelli||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, mixer||Nominated|
|2016||Me Faltarás||Andrea Bocelli||Record Of The Year||Producer, engineer||Nominated|
|Cinema (Edición en Español)||Andrea Bocelli||Album Of The Year||Producer, engineer||Nominated|
|Cinema (Edición en Español)||Andrea Bocelli||Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album||Producer, engineer||Nominated|
- "Humberto Gatica | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Inside Track: Michael Bublé 'You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You'". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Humberto Gatica". GRAMMY.com. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Latin GRAMMYs". Latin GRAMMYs (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Humberto Gatica, productor musical". segreader.emol.cl. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- ADN. ""Muy respetuoso": Humberto Gatica se sinceró sobre su relación profesional con Michael Jackson". ADN (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Recording Magazine (PDF). October 1981. p. 56.
- Recording Magazine (PDF). October 1982. p. 74.
- Studio Sound (PDF). February 1985. p. 21.
- Billboard. 2013-11-02. p. 31.
- Recording Magazine (PDF). June 1984. p. 44.
- Andrés del Real (2018-12-20). "Humberto Gatica: "Hay gente que aún no dimensiona a Lucho Gatica"". La Tercera. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Hafey, Lisa (2019-11-22). "Timi Dakolo's 'Merry Christmas, Darling' Is The Only Christmas Album We Need This Year". Essentially Pop. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Josh Groban won't let virus stop his live music and album". AP NEWS. 2020-08-17. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "About Us: Introduction / Overview". 2015-07-16. Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Holden, Stephen (1985-02-27). "THE POP LIFE; ARTISTS JOIN IN EFFORT FOR FAMINE RELIEF (Published 1985)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Stars Voice Their Support of Gulf Forces". Los Angeles Times. 1991-02-06. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "'We Are The World 25 For Haiti' Debuts at Vancouver Winter Olympics | Voice of America - English". www.voanews.com. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Voces Unidas por Chile: Artistas internacionales solidarizan con el terremoto". www.cultura.gob.cl (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Busch, Anita (2018-02-21). "Actress-Singer Greice Santo, Grammy-Winning Producer Humberto Gatica Take Aim At Sexual Harassment". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Recording Magazine (PDF). October 1981. p. 60.
- "Special Awards". Latin GRAMMYs. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- Andrés del Real (2015-11-19). "Humberto Gatica es galardonado en los Grammy Latinos". La Tercera. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Humberto Gatica | Premios Especiales 2015". Latin GRAMMYs (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-11-03.
- "Producer Humberto Gatica Tops BMI's Latin Grammy Noms List". BMI.com. 2002-07-29. Retrieved 2020-11-03.