Jon Astley mastered Tori's 2001 Strange Little Girls album. Toriphile Dan Stapleton found an interview with Jon Astley that was printed in the January 2002 issue of Sound On Sound Magazine. He sent me an excerpt from the interview, called "The Master's Voice", which you can read below. The piece was written by Dave Lockwood.
A New Challenge
Although such painstaking work often requires all his expertise, Astley also cites the recently released Tori Amos album Strange Little Girls as one of his more demanding mastering jobs. "For the first time I mastered the tracks in running order. We'd start each day by playing what we'd done the day before. Tori is not a volume freak at all, she just wants to hear certain things in the music that she knows can be got out of it in mastering. Sometimes she'll try to bring out a vocal and then she'll say 'OK, go back to the earlier setting for that chorus.' Then the mastering practically becomes part of the mixing process. Tori will want to use a specific EQ just for a part of a song, if that's what works. I do that myself sometimes too, if I'm working on my own. I will listen to something that i've had a couple of goes at, and think, 'Well, I really like it up to there, so why don't I just use that bit and then set up something else for the next bit and edit it together?' Obviously, I can hear the edit, because I know where it is, but if you don't take it to extremes, people never know.
"On Strange Little Girls I had seven bands of EQ that would vary from point to point in the track. I tend to get an overall EQ that I like for most of the track and then revisit parts and edit those in on the SADiE. Sometimes Tori would say 'Let's use that verse that we did from the other day.' Sometimes even 'Let's use that word we did the other day.' But she's got extrordinary ears. You can play her a CD made in one machine alongside a CD made in another and she'll be able to tell you which was which every time. I couldn't tell you, so I don't know what she's listening to! But she's consistently right. She has hearing from another planet. There was one occasion when i had forgotten to switch on my external clock so the SADiE had used its internal clock and Tori came to me and said 'This CD you've made doesn't sound right.' I thought about it and looked at the system, and there it was - I hadn't switched on the clock. And then I could hear it to. The top end just wasn't as clean, so there must have been a bit of jitter or something."