Alison Chesley

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Alison Chesley
Also known asHelen Money
Born (1960-01-04) January 4, 1960 (age 59)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1995–current
LabelsEpic, Table of the Elements, Temporary Residence, Victory, Warner Bros., Minty Fresh, Invisible, Temporary Residence, Suicide Squeeze, Naïve, Arts & Crafts, Plate-Tec-Tonic, Premonition Records, Whitehouse Records
Associated actsVerbow, Poi Dog Pondering, Anthrax

Alison Chesley (born January 4, 1960), known also by her stage name Helen Money, is a Chicago-based cellist and composer.

Chesley was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University, where she received a master's degree in cello performance in 1994, studying with Hans Jorgen Jensen. While at Northwestern, Chesley met Jason Narducy. They performed as an acoustic rock duo called Jason & Alison (renamed Verbow), and went on to release two albums for Epic RecordsChronicles, produced by Bob Mould, and White Out, produced by Brad Wood.[1][2] Opening for such bands as Frank Black, Bob Mould, Counting Crows, Live, Morrissey, Liz Phair and Brad with Stone Gossard, Verbow toured nationally for seven years. Meeting and working with Bob Mould was a big influence on Chesley forming the Helen Money project for aggressive, amplified cello.[3]

Verbow broke up in 2001 and Chesley turned her attention to a busy career in Chicago as a composer/performer and session musician in the studio. She most often recorded at two of Chicago's busiest recording studios, Steve Albini's Electrical Audio and Soma Studios. She worked with artists including Mono, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, Russian Circles, Chris Connelly, Poi Dog Pondering and Disturbed. She also appears on albums by Bob Mould and Rachel Grimes. In 2011, Chesley moved back to Los Angeles and switched her attention away from studio work and towards touring as Helen Money. Since then, she has toured widely across the U.S. and Europe, opening for acts such as Shellac, Earth, Nina Nastasia, Joe Lally, Mono, Sleep, Magma, Jarboe, Neurosis and Agalloch. During the spring of 2015, Chesley performed with Bob Mould on his Workbook 25 tour which included an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

In addition to Helen Money, Chesley has also composed music for film, theater and dance, including two major works[clarification needed] for Chicago-based Mordine and Company Dance Theater, Quest and Time Stilled. In 2007 she was granted a full scholarship to study composition with guitarist/composer Fred Frith at Oakland's esteemed Mills College. She opted out o the offer, and decided against the move to concentrate on expanding her role as Helen Money.[citation needed]

Chesley's first solo album, with the eponymous title Helen Money, was released on Cellobird Records in September 2007. Her second album as Helen Money, In Tune, was released on the Table of the Elements label. In Tune was recorded at Electrical Audio by Greg Norman and mixed by Sanford Parker at Semaphore Studios in Chicago. Her third Helen Money release, Arriving Angels, came in 2013 on the Profound Lore label. It was recorded and mixed at Electrical Audio by Steve Albini. A new Helen Money record, Become Zero, was slated for release on Thrill Jockey Records in September, 2016. It was recorded in Los Angeles at Neutral Studios and East/West Studios by Will Thomas and Ken Sluiter, and mixed by Will Thomas.

Chesley was chosen by Portishead to perform a Helen Money performance at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival that they curated in July 2011 at London's Alexandra Palace,[4] and also performed at the ATP event Nightmare Before Christmas, curated by Shellac in December 2012.[5]

Selected discography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Williams, Kevin M. (July 11, 1997). "Always room for cello; Verbow stings with its strings". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 5.
  2. ^ Newman, Melinda (May 6, 1995). "Continental Drift". Billboard.
  3. ^ "Alison Chesley interview 23-September 2007". Outsight Radio Hours. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  4. ^ "I'll Be Your Mirror London curated by Portishead & ATP - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  5. ^ "Wire, Mission Of Burma, The Ex, Scrawl + more for Shellac's Nightmare Before Xmas Festival - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved October 16, 2016.

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