Zelfe was trained as a classical pianist by Elly Perrot, who formerly taught at the Music Conservatory at Leipzig in Germany. He wrote his first composition at age 11, causing his teacher to throw up her hands in horror, and to take it upon herself to teach the boy music theory and composition.
Zelfe took up playing bass guitar shortly after attending his first rock concert: Black Sabbath. After that followed a dizzying six years playing in a half dozen nihilistic punk rock bands, influenced by the Talking Heads, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Roxie Music, the Tubes, Can, Amon Duul, Mott the Hoople, and Ultravox, to name a few.
More recently Zelfe has turned his attention to jazz, Latin Percussion, and big band music. At one point after the year 2000, he was playing in three different jazz bands, studying under a number of jazz masters, including one guy who had been playing jazz guitar for fifty years. His jazz influences include Fats Waller, John Coltrane, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, and Horace Silver among others.