biophoto

Alison Chesley, known also by her stage name Helen Money, is a classically trained cellist who draws her inspiration not only from Pablo Casals and Shostakovich but Jimi Hendrix and The Minutemen. She began playing the cello at the age of 8 in her hometown of Los Angeles, and through her undergrad and graduate studies, steered a course towards a career in classical music. While in Chicago attending Northwestern University, however, her focus shifted towards the rock music she had always loved. The instigation came from Jason Narducy, a singer/songwriter inspired by Bob Mould, who was looking for a cellist to perform new material with him. Together they formed the band Jason & Alison, then Verbow, becoming a force on Chicago’s active club scene. They came to the attention of Epic Records and released two recordings for the label, produced by Bob Mould and Brad Wood respectively. Alas, like many major label signings from that era they were dropped unceremoniously and disbanded. At a crossroads of sorts, Alison decided to go full steam ahead in pursuit of a career outside of classical music. She began a busy period as a solo artist, especially on Chicago’s then thriving studio scene, where she played on over 100 albums including those by Bob Mould, Broken Social Scene, Anthrax, Mono, Russian Circles, Disturbed and Poi Dog Pondering. She began composing music for films, theater and dance including two world premiers with the modernist icon Shirley Mordine. And, in 2007, Alison wrote the first Helen Money album and released it on her own label, Cellobird Records. Since then, she’s recorded three additional albums as Helen Money, the latest of which, Become Zero, is available on Thrill Jockey Records.  Helen Money has toured the world several times over opening for bands such as Sleep, Shellac, Earth, Mono, Neurosis, Magma and Jarboe including a 2015 appearance on The David Letterman Show with Bob Mould and an appearance at the 2012 ATP Festival in London curated by Portishead. In 2011, Alison moved back to Los Angeles where she recently completed a month long, weekly residency headlining at LA’s Complex, a mecca for metal, post-rock and experimental music.