Stephan Eicher picStephan Eicher is a Swiss singer, composer and songwriter with Yenish roots. Together with his brother Martin, Eicher first became known outside Switzerland in the 1980s as part of the band Grauzone.
Stephan Eicher was born on 17 August 1960 in Münchenbuchsee in the canton of Bern, where he also grew up. Stephan and his brother Martin were exposed to music from a young age by their father. He was a passionate jazz violinist and often would take the two along with him to his performances.
His parents sent Stephan to a boarding school, which did not keep him from playing electric guitar in the punk band “The Noisy Boys” at the age of 17. He finally received musical training at the F+F School for Art and Media Design Zurich, where he came into contact with a computer for the first time in 1979. Fascinated by the possibilities offered by such a device, he composed his first pieces on it and a short time later joined the electronic band Grauzone, of which his brother Martin Eicher, electric bass guitarist Christian Trüssel and drummer Marco Repetto were members.
The band landed on the radio hit charts in 1981 with the song “Eisbär”, and was even able to climb the charts in Austria and Germany. That same year, the band released its first and only album entitled “Grauzone”. The album has since become a classic of electronic and German new wave music, and it also set the style for the subsequent electronic and techno era. The album possesses a raw, awkward charm, and apart from the song “Eisbär” contains more pearls such as the other-worldly “Hinter den Bergen”. A short time later, in 1982, the band broke up after less than ten concerts, four singles and just one album.
After the break-up of Grauzone, Stephan Eicher began his solo career and published his first solo album “Les Chansons Bleues” in 1983. Musically, he stayed in the area of electronic music, but the songs he composed were already somewhat more catchy and pop-oriented than when he was with Grauzone. He also sang for the first time in English and French. With his subsequent albums, Stephan Eicher was finally able to establish himself. He regularly managed to make it to the Top Ten in the Swiss charts and with his album “Engelberg” that came out in 1991, even reached #1 for the first time. One of the tracks, “Déjeuner en paix”, became a radio hit in France climbing to #2 in the singles charts there.
Apart from his successes in Switzerland, Stephan Eicher was able to make a name for himself from the mid-1990s, particularly in France and Belgium, and has been able to count on a loyal audience in those countries ever since. Over the years, Eicher has gradually moved away from his electro-pop beginnings to an acoustic instrumentation of his songs. He frequently has his sensitive compositions accompanied by strings and experiments with various musical trends. In addition to German, French and English, he often sings in Italian or the Bernese dialect and likes switching languages within songs.
Stephan Eicher has collaborated with a number of musicians throughout his career, including French accordionist Arnaud Méthivier and Senegalese singer and musician Ismael Lo. He recorded the title song of his album “Taxi Europa”, released in 2003, together with Herbert Grönemeyer and the Italian Max Gazzé.
Stephan Eicher can look back on a discography of close to 20 albums and is considered one of Switzerland’s prominent contemporary musicians. Many of his songs have been covered by other musicians, and are now part of Swiss contemporary music. Eicher has won a number of awards during his career, including the city of Zurich’s art prize in 2009 and a Swiss Music Award in 2013.
1983 Les Chansons Bleues
1985 I Tell This Night
1987 Silence
1989 My Place
1991 Engelberg
1993 Carcassonne
1994 Non ci badar – guarda e passa
1996 1000 Vies
1999 Louanges
2001 Hotel*s – Best-of-Album
2003 Les Chansons Bleues – Wiederveröffentlichung mit neuen Versionen
2003 Taxi Europa
2007 Eldorado
2009 Traces
2012 L’envolée


Text: Robert Lippuner / Gypsy Music Network

Translation: Jamie Davies


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