Elena Davidovna Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent (now the capital of independent Uzbekistan – but then part of the Soviet Union). She studied at the Yaroslavl Music School and the Gnessin State Musical College in Moscow from age 14, and migrated to Australia in 1975, continuing her studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, under Richard Toop (composition) and Gordon Watson (piano). She also participated in the Darlinghurst underground theatre scene, with groups such as Cabaret Conspiracy, Fifi Lamour, Boom Boom La Burn and others, often under the name Elena Kats.
Chua started piano lessons in Malacca at age 8, and continued his piano studies in Melbourne with Julie Zelman, who encouraged him to explore a range of modern music styles. It was at this point, that his creative journey began. He attended the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS), studying piano under Stephen McIntyre. He completed a Bachelor of Music degree at University of Melbourne, Conservatorium of Music, specialising piano performance, with Ronald Farren-Price AO, Alexander Semestky and Max Cooke); and also studied composition with Peter Tahourdin, Barry Cunningham and Brenton Broadstock