SB19 has grown a lot since they first debuted in 2018. From industry underdogs receiving lukewarm responses from the audience to becoming the first Southeast Asian act to be nominated for the Billboard Music Awards, guesting on Rolling Stone’s Twitch channel, and being named as MTV US’ Most Requested Artist for 2020, their rise is nothing short of electrifying to watch.
“Nakakagulat po ‘yung mga pangyayari. Kahit kami nabibilisan din,” shares Josh about the dizzying new heights they’re reached in such a short span of time. “We need to learn English,” he jokes.
Their new EP “Pagsibol,” which came out today, is an homage to their rapid growth as well as an acknowledgment of their roots. “We want our EP to symbolize our beginnings, origins, or simply our roots,” the band shared in a statement. “The term also signifies our growth from the group’s formative years to where we are right now.”
The EP contains 6 tracks: “What,” a self-empowerment anthem, “Mapa,” a power ballad, “Ikako,” a revision of one of their old songs, “Mana,” an electro-pop R&B and hip-hop banger that takes it name from manangangal, “Bazinga,” a trap-pop and reggaeton-inspired bop, and “SLMT,” a catchy tune thanking their fans.
“If A’TIN po ‘yung makikinig, gusto ko po madinig nila ‘yung ‘SLMT’ because it’s the song specially dedicated for all of them. But if it’s just a casual listener, [I want them to listen to] ‘Bazinga’ [because it’s in English so international fans can understand it],” says Pablo. I don’t know why a listener would have to listen to just one song though: The EP is filled with bangers, and I don’t recommend anyone to skip a song.
Another reason why it’s a no-skip EP: “Nung kino-compose po ‘yung mga kanta, meron pong goal talaga na lahat ng mga kanta is interconnected. I don’t know how we will show that yet, but I think siguro so mga music videos ‘yan mapapakita po,” says Pablo. (SB19 cinematic universe when?)
“Basically all the songs are interconnected by their meaning,” Justin adds. “For ‘What,’ it’s about individuality. ‘Mana’ is about reaching high and keeping your feet on the ground. ‘Mapa’ is about our family and parents and where we came from. ‘SLMT’ is just for A’TIN who supported us through our journey. ‘Bazinga’ is about the doubters that motivated us to reach high. And ‘Ikako’ is for all the frontliners who helped us to continue this journey despite the pandemic.” He also notes that “lahat ay interconnected through [the concept of] roots [too.]”
“‘Yung buong idea ng pagsibol na even [if] the terrain is rough, even [if] the weather is harsh, tutubo pa rin tayo. May pag-asa kumbaga. Sana ‘pag nadinig nila ‘yung ‘Pagsibol’ na EP, mabuhayan sila, mas [mamotivate] sila sa mga bagay na gusto nilang gawin sa buhay. Sumisibol ka pa lang, darating ang panahon na tatatag ka na, magiging puno ka na,” says Pablo.
Pablo, who wrote all the songs on the EP, shares that “What” was the hardest song to write because of the tempo changes. “Mag-iiba ‘yung feeling [which each tempo change, and the lyrics had to reflect that.] Kailangan ‘yung lyrics sasabay sa feeling ng pagbabago,” he said. He added that the song, which clocks at five minutes, was also the longest song on the EP.
“For the record po, parang hindi naman po siya nahirapan,” jokes Stell.
During the production of “Mapa,” the members were all living in one condo. It sounds really cozy, ngl: When Pablo asked what they wanted to say to their parents in the song, Stell was in the corner doing the laundry. “What”’s production was just as homey. “For ‘What’ naman po, since pandemic po tayo and gusto namin gumawa ng kanta, nag-rerecord kami sa parang DIY recording studio ni Pablo. Nagpatong-patong kami ng mga comforter, unan (“Karton, ganon po,” Stell interjects) para makapag-record,” says Justin.
The band is both very proud of their fanbase and of themselves. “We’re very proud na nandiyan sila lagi for us. Lagi kaming sinusuportahan, lagi kaming kasama, and hindi kami mahihiyang sabihin na meron kaming kasama, merong kaming family which is A’TIN,” says Justin. “We’re proud of being who we are, SB19… Because of all our hard work, we reached this, we were able to inspire other people, we were able to make something new.”
The band has learned a lot through the years, and are continuing to learn. “Every day is a learning process. Sa ngayon, sa tingin mo okay ka na. Kinabukasan, mare-realize mo na kaya ko pa. I can give more, I can do more,” says Stell. “Ganoon din po sa amin. Sa tingin po ng iba, feeling nila ‘SB19, ang galing-galing nila,’ pero hindi po talaga. Sa totoo lang po, lahat ng ginagawa namin ngayon hindi po kami sigurado ng una.”
It’s hard not to feel proud for the boys, too. I’m going to be honest, listening to the new EP is getting me all up in my feelings and excited about the direction the boy group is going in.
Right now, the band is gearing up for their upcoming concert “Back In The Zone” in August. “Honestly po, ngarag kami. Hanggang ngayon po, fully ginagamit namin ‘yung time para mag-prepare for the concert,” Josh shares, adding that the band is involved internally in the planning, especially Justin. “Sa creative side, siyempre si Justin lahat. [He’s] in charge sa mga ganon.”
“Ngarag po kami,” he repeats. “Sisiguraduhin po namin na mag-eenjoy ‘yung mga manonood.”
“Since it’s a virtual concert lang po, we want to make it explosive para naman po masabi ng mga fans na bumili ng ticket na talagang worth it ‘yung pera po nila,” says Pablo. “Ang goal po namin ay bumigay ng something very extravagant. ‘Yung talagang masasabi nila na, ‘Yes, buti na lang bumili ako ng ticket for this concert.’”