IN CONVERSATION WITH SHUBOSTAR
Shubostar – the South Korean artist now making waves in Berlin’s underground scene. As both DJ and producer, she crafts a unique “Cosmic Disco” sound, blending disco roots with techno elements, earning the moniker Dark Disco. Heavy bass and retro drums define her contemporary electronic sound.
In this exclusive interview, Shubostar unveils the inspiration behind her cosmic and spiritual themes, the evolution of her unique music style, and the birth of her label, uju Records. From collaborating with visual artist Daryung Kim to her gaming design background shaping her approach, Shubostar shares the diverse influences that fuel her creative process.
How did you create Shubostar, and what inspired the cosmic and spiritual theme in your music?
I used to have short hair, and a friend called me ‘Shubo’, a fusion of ‘super’ and ‘boy’ in Korean-English slang. I liked the name, so when I began my music journey, I adopted it as my DJ alias. Later, when I was about to release a track, I wanted to modify my name. I’ve always been captivated by the cosmos, so I appended ‘star’. The cosmic and spiritual themes emerged naturally. I’ve held a longstanding interest in astrophysics, often delving into YouTube videos on the subject. Additionally, my practice of yoga and meditation for over five years has deepened my connection to these concepts.
It’s all about the universe. I’m delighted to share my discoveries through the music.
How did you come up with the “Cosmic Disco” fusion, blending disco with techno elements? What draws you to this cosmic sound?
The fusion of “Cosmic Disco” was an organic evolution, once I recognised connections between various musical genres I love. I initially immersed myself in disco and funk, discovering Italian cosmic disco by artists like Daniele Baldelli, Nordic cosmic disco by Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Todd Terje, and ’70s space disco. I noticed a common sound among all of them: cosmic themes. Hence, I began describing my music genre as cosmic disco, eventually blending elements of disco and techno. Playing these two styles on the dance floor helped me realize my unique sound.
What motivated you to start uju Records, and how has it influenced your music production?
After sending demos to labels I admired, I received only one reply among all the emails I sent, and even that one was with a huge wait on the release date. I didn’t want to wait! A friend suggested that I could start my own label, and I took the plunge. Running my label is enjoyable; it allows creative freedom beyond music production, without necessarily needing to stick to a genre or style. Editing videos for music content became a passion, enriching the visualization of my music and infusing it with a stronger cosmic essence.
uju Records’ co-creator is Daryung Kim, a Korean painter. How does visual art complement your music? What about fashion?
Visuals, whether at parties or festivals, wield significant power in creating the vibe. I’ve realized that sometimes I can envision music solely by viewing artwork. Hence, visuals are crucial to music. When establishing uju Records, I sought a unique artistic style, leading me to my friend Daryung Kim and her distinct Korean traditional art infused with a cosmic aura.
Let’s look into fashion – certain music styles align with specific fashion trends, forming part of a broader cultural phenomenon where I’ve observed that the community shares similar music tastes and fashion sense. You can see me wearing A Better Mistake x Electronic Beats collab pieces lately which reflects this community flow I mentioned.
How does your gaming design experience influence your approach to music production and performance?
My foray into music production stemmed from a gaming design background. Disliking coding for computer games, I shifted to creating music for games using basic tools. The gaming education definitely helped me shape my knowledge of electronic repetitive sounds and the connection between the two gradually surfaced, impacting both my production style and the tracks I perform.
Can you tell us how your global performances have inspired the evolution of your music and your performance style?
At first, I concentrated on technical details, trying to find my place. Eventually, at some point, I realized I felt confident in the DJ booth. This changed how I saw things: I started focusing more on people and the vibe on the dance-floor, less on how I was mixing the tracks. After successful tours with gigs all around the world, I understood it’s about the energy I bring. It’s like people tuning in to different radio channels, they vibe with my energy. Since then I began dancing more, smiling more and being focused on the crowd to connect and share my energy with them.
Are there specific cosmic or spiritual influences shaping your creative process and the atmosphere in your sets?
Fortunately, I have many spiritually inclined friends, and engaging in deep conversations with them always replenishes my energy. I feel a magnetic pull towards such friends, who occasionally introduce me to incredible spiritual gurus, although I still need to listen to many of their speeches. I enjoy channeling the energy I gather on the dance floor and sending it back, receiving dancers’ exuberant energy in return. Since this summer, this exchange has become more profound for me. Hence, I prefer to stay sober and bask in the joy of watching people smile.
Do different venues or cultures influence how you curate your sets, and do you have a favorite place to perform?
Definitely. While preparing my set, I visualize the venue’s ambiance and the overall vibe. Imagining festivals and the artists I will perform alongside aids my creative process. I particularly relish performing at Burning Man for its unique, highly anticipated vibe: people eagerly await this one-week extravaganza each year. Black Rock City’s intense energy amplifies the experience, playing amidst a vibrant, colorful crowd or dazzling lights creates a natural high. I always look forward to going back there!
What can we expect from your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on an EP for DGTL. One track features TERR, and though we’re still refining it, her stunning voice blending with my synthesizer harmony moved me to tears upon hearing the first draft. I’m thrilled to unveil it soon! As for shows, I’m excited to kick off opening sets for incredible artists like WhoMadeWho, Dixon, Âme, TSHA, and numerous new festivals such as EDC, SXM, and more in the pipeline! I can’t wait for you all to see everything I have coming up in this first half of 2024!
photography CHAD MCLEAN and MIKE PORTLOCK