Zacharias Falkenberg

Composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, ensemble leader and enfant terrible! Zacharias S. Falkenberg is not only a versatile composer covering genres such as classical music, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Avantgarde and Punk, which he combines with great audacity, but is also a fierce bandleader and orchestral conductor doing things against the grain.

In recent times he’s known for founding the band Them Caged Dogs and his collaboration with Henrik Schwarz for the projects Plunderphonia and CCMYK.

1: Some fungi create zombies, then control their minds.

2: Our idols are probably all assholes.

3: Institutional racism is still and was always a thing.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
At some point I started to learn to think more objectively about the things I write. When I learned this during my studies it was a total eye opener!
But I also remember listening to Frank Zappa for the first time when I was a kid. THIS!

2. How and when did you get into making music?
Listening to my mother playing some baroque music (which I actually don’t like) on the piano and right afterwards being confronted with 90s grunge and alternative music.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Mean question and impossible to answer:

Some 70s records – Frank Zappa & Flo and Eddie
Deloused in a Comatorium – The Mars Volta
Momente (the 1965 Version) -vKarlheinz Stockhausen
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
Irony is a dead scene – The Dillinger Escape Plan
Ill communication – Beastie Boys
In the court of the Crimson King – King Crimson
Some 90s NoFX records
All Ween records

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
People with bad temper and good food.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I would say Kastanienkeller or Köpi.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Breathing air.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
It was either Reptoid with “Worshipping False Gods” from 2020 or Cardiacs with “Songs for Ships and Irons” from 1991. Both exceptionally great!

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I just saw the Netflix limited series about Fran Lebowitz. So either her or Martin Scorcese.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a performer: either when I opened a jazz festival in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) with The Chronometer’s Orchestra. Somehow the venue was sold out, but I was pretty sure most people didn’t like it. Or the one time I got commissioned to write a composition for an orchestra (not going to name it though). They were not used to experimental stuff and after performing it once or twice they decided to discard it from their tour program (the institutional music world is something different, guys…).
As a spectator: either when I was a kid seeing Bad Religion and starting the mosh pit while making a total fool out of myself. Or the last Dillinger Escape plan concert ever in Cologne, Germany, where we started to storm the stage while they played 43% Burnt, I definitely made a fool of myself there, too.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I used to be all analog and old school. Until I realized it is much more important to look forward then to look back and act all like “it-used-to-be-better”. With the given technology it might be easier to make music but at the same time you can make stuff that never happened before. This is much more important… Also I created an algorithm that can automatically arrange piano music and I work a lot in digital sheet music development…

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a very supportive family!

Photo © CJR Albrecht