Sea + Air press pic_bw_printDanielWeisser

Lyrically given full approval by Ayfer Simms a couple of weeks ago, the Greek/German duo of  Eleni Zafiriadou and Daniel Benjamin, better known as  Sea + Air,  bedazzled us with their daemonic sensual art pop album  Evropi.  Wishing to immerse herself even further within the duo’s nomadic whirlwind sound and narratives, Ayfer fired over some questions to Eleni and Daniel this week. From their first meeting, spurred on by chance encounter when sleepwalking, to personal background stories on displacement, Eleni and Daniel proved both affable and reflective. 

Ayfer Simms: The idea of the past is very important on this album. Eleni, you are a nomad ever since your grandmother was expelled from Anatolia in 1922; could you tell us more, about your family and your own childhood? Is your childhood very different from Daniel’s?


Eleni: It was my great grandmother who had to leave overnight her home with her family because all of a sudden religion and nationality played a too important and dangerous role. They arrived in Greece where they had to start from the beginning and where they slowly realized that they would never return to the place they left. The mother of my great grandmother committed her daughter to the care of a rich family for a better future. As she was watching her playing in the garden she realized she was losing her to a world that was not her own. She decided to go and get her back. ‘Mercy Looks Good On You’ is the song that relates to that episode. I could go on with stories but I’m afraid it would end in writing a whole book, hehe. Luckily we wrote some detailed liner notes in the booklet where you can find out more about my family history: “About my own childhood: The first three years I was raised by my grandmother because both of my parents had to work. I remember it as a really joyful time cause I got to spend a lot of time with my cousin. I still have a close relationship to my grandmother. Daniel had a happy childhood, too. He had a full-time mom who was an amazing woman. When the women in my family first met Daniel’s mother they immediately became her biggest fans. There was something about her aura and they considered her as a saint.”

AS: On the album the lead vocals are shared equally, two voices with different personalities and yet combined beautifully together and obviously sharing the same views. Eleni and Daniel how did you meet and what are/were the crucial points that brought you together?

Daniel: I was bicycling one night and saw Eleni sleepwalking outside of the little village we lived in. So I guided her home. I knew where she lived, had seen her at school and knew she was a great dancer. That’ s why I assumed she would be a great singer, too. When I finally dared to ask her if she could sing she said: I can scream! That’ s how our punkrock band Jumbo Jet started.

AS: In some songs the tunes create a feeling of being at the dawn of humanity, reminding that all of us are intrinsically nomadic ever since we departed from Africa. Do you have a message, a lesson for today’s society drawn from the past?

E: In the end we all come from the same place. We all have the same path. We come into this world and leave this world solitary. In between we should try to bond with each other instead of creating hell on earth for other people. Both on the large and small scale. Be nice to your own family and then be nice to your extended family. Is my answer to esoteric? I really hope so.


AS: Now you are on the road (touring for more than 3 years) – you love being on the move. Do you think carrying your home on your back is a form of escapism, or on the contrary people who are settled down in one location are missing something?

E: I don’t want to evaluate the things other people do. Everyone makes their own choices for a reason. There is no wrong or right. For some it is important to see more than their own home, for some it is important to be at the same place because they are needed where they are. I always needed both to be balanced. There is a time for everything.

AS: ‘We all have to leave someday’ (and not the only tune) is filed with sounds form the element and chants as if coming from the depth of earth and history, as if our ancestors were talking to us; in your life and art, are you more drawn to the past than the future?

E: Well, on this album definitely on the past. And I guess we always have to look at the past to form the future. At least a better future.

D: I think looking at the past made this album very futuristic as well.


AS: Are you two of melancholic nature? That sort of melancholia that make you thrive as artists rather than plunge you into gloominess?

E: Melancholic, but also ecstatic, enthusiastic, spaced-out, you name it! All this comes together in our music. Melancholic only would be just boring.

Sea + Air press pic_printDanielWeisser

AS: How do you feel about borders between countries? Are they still relevant you think? (Have they ever been?)

D: As travellers we feel they’ve never been relevant. Borders for us are only there to stop our flow.

AS: Two of the songs have a 1980’s pop edge to them. What were you guys up to in the 80s?

E: I remember dancing as a three year old in my father’s arms to Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you”.

D: I started buying music in the 80’s. Bicycling over to the next village, which had a music shop where obscure vinyl was really cheap. Since they were the only ones I could afford I got stuck with obscure music that can’t be labelled. Haha.

AS: If there was one thing you could both change in your lives, present or past, what would it be?

D: Maybe we should’ve moved to the USA in our teens and we would be millionaires now. Hahaha.

AS: If you had to settle somewhere, where would it be?

E: On an island in the Mediterranean would be cool. At least for a time, hehe.

D: Lake of Constance, right down by the lake. Or a north sea island for me please.


Thank you for the fantastic music, lyrics, vocals and atmosphere!

%d bloggers like this: