Charlyn Marie Marshall, also known as Chan (pronounced "Shawn") Marshall, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on 21 January 1972. After dropping out of high school, she started performing under the name Cat Power, while in Atlanta, backed by musicians Glen Thrasher, Mark Moore, and others. She soon moved to New York City, United States in 1992, then later opening for Liz Phair in 1994, she met Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Tim Foljahn of Two Dollar Guitar, who encouraged her to record, and played on her first two albums, 1995's Dear Sir and 1996's Myra Lee. In 1996 she was signed to Matador Records, and released her third album, What Would the Community Think, which spawned a single and music video, "Nude as the News".
Shortly following the release of What Would the Community Think Marshall disappeared from the musical scene, initially working as a baby sitter in Portland, Oregon and then moving to a farmhouse in Prosperity, South Carolina with boyfriend Bill Callahan (who performs under the name Smog). The plan was to permanently retire from music but during a sleepless night resulting from a nightmare, Marshall wrote several new songs. These songs would make up the bulk of Moon Pix. The album was recorded at Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne in eleven days with backing musicians Mick Turner and Jim White of the Dirty Three. The album was well-received by critics, and gained her recognition in the indie rock scene. However, during the subsequent tours she grew tired of her own material. This resulted in a series of shows during 1999 involving Marshall providing musical accompaniment to a series of screenings of the silent movie The Passion of Joan of Arc. The shows combined original material and many covers, many of which would later see release on The Covers Record, a collection of cover songs recorded at various sessions in 1998 and 1999. A selection of covers that didn't make it on to the album were recorded at Peel Acres, home of the highly influential and legendary British DJ John Peel. The session was broadcast on his BBC Radio 1 show and featured Marshall's own interpretations of Bob Dylan's "Hard Times in New York Town" amongst others.