Between ‘Altered Egos’ and Virtual Realities

In the neon-lit alleys of Berlin’s music scene, Shubostar is a name that resonates like a pulsating beat. From the pixelated realms of computer games to the rhythmic cadences of cosmic disco, her journey is a symphony of contrasts. But what’s the thread that ties her gaming roots to her musical prowess?

Dive deep into Shubostar’s past, and you’ll find a young game designer from South Korea, exploring the world accompanied by the sound of early computer games. With just one guitar, one kick, and one snare – oh, Cakewalk, you beautiful music crafting beast – she produced tunes that echoed the minimalistic charm of MS-DOS classics and latter. Her favorite games? Princess Maker and World of Warcraft. Fast forward, and while her music has evolved towards cosmic disco, that simplicity remains. It’s not about complex configurations; it’s about a melody that lingers. Shubostar’s journey from a game designer in South Korea to a Berlin-based music sensation is a tale of two worlds: reality and virtuality. At the heart of it lies the concept of the ‘altered ego’. Altering the ego to be with peers and friends; altering your self-perception when entering the virtual environment of a second life promising game or an experience-engaging rave; but never altering her minimalist street style in fashion, that she lately embraced with the newest fashion collab of A Better Mistake and Telekom Electronic Beats: Altered Ego. 

Marcus Boxler: I am very happy to talk to you again, Shubostar, after we met in Montenegro during the Summer of Joy” festival by Electronic Beats. Last time we did not have a chance to dive deeper into your roots: computer games. You graduated in computer game programming and created music for virtuality. How would you describe the music you produced back then? 

Shubostar: Ooof, that was already 20 years ago! Maybe you remember the first computer games, their design, the feeling. The music was only one simple melody. 

Marcus Boxler: Does this have an impact on your musical style today? 

Shubostar: Probably yes, now that you mention it. Even today, I am way more interested in creating a melody, rather than a complex configuration. Even for the sound. Nowadays, I use a pre-set, when I create music. But, I often change it, because I know how it works. So the roots in computer game programming left their mark, haha. 

Marcus Boxler: Do you still play video games?  

Shubostar: Nooo, I had to stop! It was too dangerous for me! I had been so into computer games, it became like a drug for me. I nearly dropped out of university, because I was missing some lectures. 

Marcus Boxler: Ok! We will talk about derivatives for being addicted a little bit later, but before I want to dig deeper into the connection between computer games and your approach to producing music today. 

Shubostar: When you’re gaming you’re alone in the physical world. Of course, there are multiplayer games and even gaming rooms or tournaments. But mostly, you are playing alone. You’re alone on your laptop, but you are not alone in the virtual world. You are connected to others. It’s like being in control of a different reality, where the connection to others surpasses the physical reality. That’s the idea I pursue with my music. To expand the connection between people on an unspoken level – virtually. 

Marcus Boxler: Did you know that the term ‘virtuality’ actually comes from theology? When Christians talked about virtuality, they meant a non-physical environment that you can only reach via preaching or meditation. 

Shubostar: I know this state! I sometimes go into this state shortly before I fall asleep. It’s like trance. 

Marcus Boxler: Blending the virtual with the real. Speaking of blending, your music combines italo disco and electronic synthesizer sound in a very unique way. For your inspiration you mentioned the likes of Daft Punk, Air but also Alexander Robotnick and Daniele Baldelli in earlier interviews. Tell us more about that.

Shubostar: I’ve always been intrigued by things that feel real but aren’t present. Like space. It’s there, but we don’t really feel it. The universe is expanding every second we exist, but we don’t feel any of it. At least, not in a way we can articulate, yet. It’s a reality, but it’s not tangible.

Marcus Boxler: And the Italo Disco influence? 

Shubostar: It comes with the synthesizer. It’s danceable, it’s uplifting. It came naturally…

Marcus Boxler: Speaking of things that come naturally: You are also the founder of a record label: uju records. Can you tell us the story of how you became a record label owner? 

Shubostar: Yes, I founded “uju Records.” It’s Korean and it means ‘cosmic’. However, the journey is way less impressive than you probably think. When I used to live in Mexico, I produced an abundance of music. Like, really a lot! The one percent of my favorite record labels that I reached out to and that – at least – replied, did not want any of the music. During that time I was living with my best friend who advised me to found my own record label and release the music myself. Easier, faster. He helped me with the logo and artworks and this is how the romantic story goes. 

Marcus Boxler: Is there a greater goal to the label? Do you want to sign other artists maybe? 

Shubostar: It’s all about me (laughs). The label was really just an entity to release my own music and not be dependent on another label. Also, I don’t want to put too many different artists into one shape, being the label. What I do consider, is to do a cosmic disco compilation. That would be with other artists as well. 

Marcus Boxler: Your style isn’t just limited to music. Your fashion sense is quite iconic. Last time we met, you were wearing a bandana top, wrapped around your body, combined with a – Id call it – mediterranean pearl look. What drives your style choices?

Shubostar: Yeees, I remember that look. It was a piece from the newest collection collab of A Better Mistake and Electronic Beats. It’s called: Altered Ego. I believe in expressing myself fully, whether it’s through music, art, or fashion. Usually, I love street style. But at the same time, I can say with a certainty of 100 percent: That I’m minimalist. 

Marcus Boxler: Really?!

Shubostar: Absolutely. I don’t like to buy many clothes. But whenever I choose something, I need it to be wearable for a week and not have it feel boring. That’s my measurement. It has to feel comfortable and I have to be able to wear it for a show or if I go to the supermarket. Wear it for ten years and exchange it, only if it’s ‘broken’.

Marcus Boxler: That is the core of Minimalism. I think we grasped a little bit of the real Shubostar”. Is there also an altered ego of yours, that you would like to share about? 

Shubostar: Altered me? I think every version of me is altered as soon as I leave the doorstep and interact with other people. No? 

Marcus Boxler: Indeed, but its the same you. Or, are you changing your behavior in the presence of other people? 

Shubostar: Freaking, yes! Don’t you? I mean I love to socialize with my peers and I love to bring an uplifting vibe and happy mode to the group. But sometimes, after a few days of interacting, I need some time alone. To recharge the battery. And then run the game again. 

Identity is representation, transforming communication into community. Picking up the phone with a colleague or with a friend sets a completely different tone, and therefore creates different narratives throughout all social entities. Though alone at her computer, Shubostar was always part of vast communities. Either online or on the dance floor. This duality of being physically alone but virtually connected influenced her style and sound. 

In essence, Shubostar’s music is where her real self meets her ‘altered ego’, creating tracks that resonate both in clubs and in the hearts of those who listen. 


Photography · Marvin Jockschat for Telekom Electronic Beats 
Shubostar is wearing Telekom Electronic Beats x  A Better Mistake 

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