Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Shaking up the pop charts with Shakedown

Shakedown has recently shaken up the British charts by reaching number six

Two Swiss singer-songwriter DJs have been making waves in the British charts with their hit club single "At Night".

Shakedown are Stephan and Sebastian Kohler, two brothers who grew up in Lausanne before heading off to study and work abroad in the United States and Britain. They later joined forces to work on their first album entitled “You Think You Know”.

swissinfo recently caught up with one half of the brotherly double-act to find out more about their music and influences.

What made you and Sebastian decide to become a duo?

Stephan Kohler: In ’92 I moved to New York and Seb went to England and we both started to make music on our own. At one point we just decided for fun to try and make some tracks and that’s how we started.

Did you both know that you wanted to get into music from an early age?

Yes, for both Seb and I music has been pretty much the only hobby we’ve had. Music has always been really important to us and that’s why we’ve always been keen to see what was happening in England or in the States, where music is very important to people.

In recent years, we’ve seen a number of DJs from France and Belgium gain international recognition, but now we’re seeing more and more Swiss DJs come onto the scene. Does this mean the Swiss are now making more of a name for themselves?

Switzerland has quite a healthy club scene and you’ve got people like DJ Bobo, but he is not really a DJ and more of a marketing gimmick. But there is a real music scene in Switzerland – whether it’s trance or house – with a lot of DJs and many of them are starting to export themselves.

Tell us a little bit about the new album…

It’s basically just a mixture of all our experiences and influences. We just put them all together and tried to make music out of it. The album was mainly made in New York and mixed in Switzerland, so that was also a very big influence.

There is a range of voices on the album. How did you decide who you wanted to work with?

We didn’t want to work with anybody big or famous like most bands do these days. So we just worked with people we knew or with whom we had worked on previous projects. There’s the New York singer Terra Deva who sings on “At Night” and “Drowsy with Hope”, and there’s another girl from New York called Gisele Jackson and also a French guy called Benjamin Diamond who had a big hit last year.

Your single “At Night” recently reached number six in the British charts. How do you explain your popularity in Britain?

In Britain, dance music and music in general is important in people’s daily lives, and has an influence on everything. The record took off because people could relate to it, to the words and the music. It started in the underground clubs and then it built up from there.

What kind of response have you received from Swiss audiences?

I’ve been a DJ here since ’86 in all the Swiss cities, so basically most people who are into our kind of music know me and that’s why a lot of people were happy that the record worked out. I think people were happy to see that it was working out in England since it was the first time a Swiss dance record got into the top ten in England. I don’t think even DJ Bobo managed to do that.

What drives you when it comes to success? Is it more important to be successful in Britain than at home?

We just want to do the best music we can and we just want to be happy with what we’re doing. In terms of recognition, of course England was the best for us because we’ve always been looking there for music and not at Switzerland. So for us it was great to see the record crash into the top ten there. Even though it was not a goal in itself, it was a good reward.

Do you and your brother have plans to stick together as a duo for the foreseeable future?

No matter what happens, we’ll still be brothers. We want to work on another album and after that I don’t know. Maybe we’ll both have different careers in movies or in the theatre – I just don’t know.


In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR