AUDREY CHEN is a 2nd generation Chinese/Taiwanese-American musician who was born into a family of material scientists, doctors and engineers, outside of Chicago in 1976. Parting ways with the family convention, she turned to the cello at age 8 and voice at 11. After years of classical and conservatory training in both instruments, with a resulting specialization in early and new music, she parted ways again in 2003 to begin new negotiations with sound in order to discover a more individually honest aesthetic.
Since then, using the cello, voice and occasional analog electronics, Chen’s work delves deeply into her own version of narrative and non-linear storytelling. A large component of her music is improvised and her approach to this is extremely personal and visceral. Her playing explores the combination and layering of the homemade analog synthesizer, preparations and traditional and extended techniques in both the voice and cello. She works to join these elements into a singular ecstatic personal language.
**Over the past decade plus, her predominant focus has been her solo work with the cello, voice and electronics, but she has more recently begun to shift back towards the exploration of the voice as a primary instrument.
"Audrey Chen has created an uncompromising and idiosyncratic music, tightly disciplined yet acoustically wild and heavy with implication. Her ultra-verbal vocalising, often reminiscent of the visceral and emotionally charged sound poetry of François Dufréne or Henri Chopin, exposes physiological aspects of utterance that are concealed within standardised articulation and day to day speech. Fleshy, breath-driven and flecked with spittle, Chen's voice emanates not just from her mouth but from an ensemble of upper body surfaces, channels, passages, and cavities." - Julien Cowley THE WIRE
Recent projects, aside from performing solo, include her long running voices duo with Phil Minton, duos HISS & VISCERA with modular synth player Richard Scott, BEAM SPLITTER with Norwegian trombonist Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø, and the “romantic noise duo” AFTERBURNER with Doron Sadja (electronics/light projection). Past projects include work with German conceptual artist John Bock, a duo with NYC abstract turntablist Maria Chavez, and a quartet with Nate Wooley, C. Spencer Yeh, and Todd Carter. Her new projects include a double duo/quartet with BEAM SPLITTER and STREIFENJUNKO’s, Eivind Lønning and Espen Reinersten and MOPCUT with Lukas König and Julien Desprez.
Among her more recent album releases include, "By the Stream" with Phil Minton - Subrosa (Brussels), "Hiss & Viscera" with Richard Scott - Sound Anatomy (Berlin), "Rough Tongue", BEAM SPLITTER'S debut LP - Corvo Records (Berlin) and her long awaited new solo album "Runt Vigor" - Karl Records (Berlin).
Chen has performed across Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Canada and the USA.
Some festival appearances include: Festival Beyond Innocence (Osaka, JP), Maerzmusik (Berlin, DE), Klangspuren Festival (Schwaz, AT), NUMA Circuit (Tenerife, ES), Sound of Stockholm (Stockholm, SE), Kongsberg Jazz Festival (Kongsberg, NO), Jazz Saalfelden (Saalfelden, AT), Plateaux Festival (Torun, PL), Color Out of Space (Brighton, UK), Wels Music Unlimited (Wels, AT), 2PI Festival (Hangzhou, CN), Jazz a Luz (Luz-Saint-Saveur, FR), Festival Muzzix (Lille, FR), La Voix est Libre (Toulouse/Paris, FR), Total Meeting (Tours, FR), NowNow Festival (Sydney, AU), Uncool Festival (Poschiavo, CH), the Next Festival (Bratislava, SK), Colour Out of Space (Brighton, UK), Donau Festival (Krems, AT), Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville/FIMAV (CA), Festival Ecuatoriano de Música Contemporánea (Quito,Ecuador) and Wien Modern (Vienna, AT).
And venues such as: Covent Garden (London, UK), Radialsystem (Berlin, DE), Zacheta National Gallery (Warsaw, PL), Museé du quai Branly (Paris, FR), Radio France (Paris, FR), Theatre Bouffes du Nord (Paris, FR), Auditorio de Tenerife (Tenerife, ES), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires, AR), Bimhuis, (Amsterdam, NL), Rote Fabrik (Zurich, CH), Teatro Fondamenta Nuove (Venice, IT), DOM (Moscow, RU), Anton Kern Gallery (NYC, US), Wiener Konzerthaus (Vienna, AT) and Robert Wilson's Watermill Center (Water Mill, NY, US).
In 2011, in addition to her performances, she was awarded the prestigious Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, an award that was established to support individual artists living, and working in Maryland. Since 2011, she relocated to Berlin, Germany from Baltimore, MD USA and continues to maintain an active international touring schedule.
David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet has described her work as "fascinating and gripping" and "possessing something extremely vital and vivid...."