Zafraan Ensemble stands for music that reflects all facets of life, society and reality today. The democratically-organised ensemble constitutes ten fixed members from Spain, France, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. It was founded in Berlin in 2009 and predominantly performs contemporary repertoire that is covered by its core instrumentation of violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, harp, piano and percussion. The group challenges itself and the audience; they experiment and surprise. As a live and studio drummer, Zafraan’s Daniel Eichholz is active in the rock and pop scene, where he played with Tocotronic, Phoenix, 2raumwohnung and The Baseball, among others. He is a member of the Berlin techno live act Schulz und Söhne – Artist in Residence of the Fusion Festival. With his prog rock band Squintaloo he released the internationally acclaimed MIG Music debut album Über Bordin 2017.
1: I had a pet goat as a kid and all he did was headbutt me.
2: „Dogs smoke in France.“ (Ozzy Osbourne)
3: „When an instrument fails on stage it mocks you and must be destroyed.“ (Trent Reznor)
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Recently, I’ve been very inspired by the work of Christophe Bertrand, whose music we are re-cording and playing live with the Zafraan Ensemble in December 2019 and January 2020. Amazing, unique and extremely challenging to play. But with a very intuitive, sound-loving sensual approach. That’s how I would describe it. That’s the kind of music I really want to create myself – only completely different, of course.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
My parents were musicians and I don’t remember when exactly I started playing drums. But I have a clear memory of my dad buying me an old jazz drum set for Christmas when I was five, I still own it. I’ve been playing ever since. My dad also built all these percussion instruments from everyday objects and trash. I use them to this day.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Fred Frith: Gravity
Mr Bungle: Disco Volante
Miles Davis: Filles de Kilimanjaro
Queens of the stone age: Era Vulgaris
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Great, daily variety of horrible smells on the underground trains and vast numbers of interesting concerts and performances, hard to keep up!
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My studio in Wedding which really gets the best of me and my sister’s place in Stralau with all the kids.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Probably try to invent some music. I always wanted to be a professional football player, but I was nowhere near talented enough. Maybe a chef.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Marc Sinan and Oguz Büyükberber: White. What a brilliant album!
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d like to be the drummer in Slayer just for one tour. Or the same for Helge Schneider.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I remember seeing Brian Blade play at Quasimodo in 2004, that was probably the most mind-blowing drumming I’ve ever heard – and an endless cascade of new sound and ideas. I also saw Motörhead play the Hammersmith in London that same year and it blew me away. The US tour I played with Berlin Philharmonic in 2016 was definitely among my own most memorable moments on concert stages.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Increasingly important since I started using triggers and effects for live playing.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
My sister is a violinist with whom I work frequently. We even play some duo pieces written by my dad, we share the same kind of life and vision. I also have two older brothers living in the US, one is a lawyer from the east coast and the other one is a makeup and special fx artist in the Hollywood movie industry. We care for each other’s careers a lot.
On Sunday, 8th December 2019, Zaafran Ensemble meets Court-Circuit for Rencontres Teil II at Musikbrauerei Berlin!
Photo © Neda Navaee