In her iTunes originals set, Fiona Apple speaks for ten minutes about how Extraordinary Machine came to be. Because of the difference between the spoken and the written word, I've made some edits for clarity ~
She said that she loved the original version which was produced by Jon Brion. "The stuff that we did was beautiful." The problem was that even though she thought the songs were great, they weren't quite what she intended. Fiona felt that she had rushed from writing the songs to recording them, and so she didn't have a clear idea of where she wanted them to go. "And so for lack of intentions and lack of the ability to make any decisions, I just thought, 'well I think I have to kinda start again and try them in a different way.'"
Fiona was adamant that Sony had not shelved the album, because it had never been given to them as a finished product. She did think that they probably didn't like it and couldn't see any hits in it.
She spoke a little about how she knew Mike Elizondo, the person who produced the final version of Extraordinary Machine. After she heard his initial work with the songs, she thought, "Whoa! Ok, I'm awake now, ok I can build meat onto this skeleton, I know what I want with this album now."
The difficulties with Sony started when she was about to begin recording with Mike Elizondo. "So we put a budget together, we were all ready to go and record and at that point a representative of Sony told my manager and I, 'Wait a second, hold on, we're not so sure that you should be doing this.' They said, 'You'll have to do one song at a time, and then, we'll hear the song, and then we'll give you the money to do the next one – oh and you know we'll give you the money to do the next one. We just have to hear it first.'"
Fiona was insulted by this. She was appalled at the possibility that she could finish something which she thought was finished, only to have her record company shelve it. "And then they own a master of something that I’m really satisfied with – which is unthinkable." Fiona was also worried that this would also lead to Sony attempting to write her songs, which would be the beginning of the end for her as an artist.
She decided that she could not work in this way. "So I called up my manager, I just said, really quick, 'Steve, call up Sony tell them I'm not going to record for them anymore. And don't call me back.'" She unplugged her phone.
Fiona did not hear anything on this for months, and she thought that it was over. Then the Free Fiona campaign happened. "I love what they did and I'm really grateful to them, I thanked them in the album and I'm in awe of anyone who can organize to reach a goal – especially something like that for me and my music – that's just incredible. Through what they did and the heat that they created for Sony as well as Steve Barnett coming into Sony made it so that I got the phone call going, 'you can do it with Mike Elizondo, you can record them all, no one's going to ask you to listen to them one by one, no one's going to ask to listen to them at all. Go, be free, be happy, do what you want to do.'"