Helen Money


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 steered a course towards a career in classical music until she went to Chicago to attend Northwestern University and decided to go full steam ahead in pursuit of a career outside of it. 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.

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: “In tune”, also on her label, “Arriving angels” on Profound Lore Records and her latest “Become Zero” out on Thrill Jockey.

Written after the death of both of her parents, “Become Zero” amplifies Chesley’s musical ferocity with palpable sadness and striking beauty taking us on a journey as she grapples with the concepts and the emotions of life’s end: loss, isolation, sorrow, peace and resolution.

Helen Money is equally at home in the New Music realm as she is in the New Metal realm. She has toured extensively with an incredible array of musicians, including Shellac, Neurosis, Sleep, Russian Circles, Magma, Agalloch, Earth, and Nina Nastasia. Both Portishead and Shellac selected her for their respective All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals.

Read more about Helen Money in this feature/interview with The Guardian.

“Become Zero is an obliteration of the senses to leave one wrung out and euphoric, offering both epiphanies from Heaven and elegies from Hell. ” – The Quietus

« The most interesting feature of Helen Money’s live performance is the ease at which Chelsey’s compositions shift between the two poles of vulnerability and harshness. The whole performance comes off as simultaneously heavy and disarming. » – CVLT Nation

“Become Zero is spare but heavy, dark but beautiful, melodic but meditative.” – The Guardian


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Antoine Khoury