MUSIC

With “Pagsibol,” SB19 celebrates their roots as artists

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In “Pagsibol,” SB19's sound is more fully formed, owing to their confident vocals and a more hands-on approach in creating the music for this album. In photo (from left): Pablo, Stell, Josh, Justin, and Ken in a CNN Philippines Life shoot in 2020. Photo by JL JAVIER

SB19 has come a long way since they released their first EP “Get in the Zone” in 2020. Now it is one of the most ubiquitous P-pop groups around. You’ve probably seen them in billboards, online ads, or in Twitter’s Trending Topics list — the very same social media power (thanks to their fans, A’TIN) that have propelled them to be the first Filipino artist to be nominated at the Billboard Music Awards (against BTS, Blackpink, Seventeen, and Ariana Grande). Now, Josh, Justin, Ken, Pablo, and Stell are back with their latest EP “Pagsibol,” proving to us that the group is just getting started.

In “Pagsibol,” the group’s sound is more fully formed, owing to their confident vocals and a more hands-on approach in creating the music. The album is the continuation of Pablo’s songwriting work which blossomed with the aggressive pop-rock track “What?” The songwriting talent is on full display with the album’s three new tracks, the explosive, EDM-infused “Mana,” which sounds like a sequel to “What?”, the bouncy number “SLMT,” which is dedicated to the fans, and the English track (with one Filipino verse) “Bazinga,” which seems to be a shout out to all the people who doubted the group.

“The songs are interconnected by [their] meanings... Parang lahat interconnected to roots pa eh,” says Justin. “‘What?’ is about individuality, ‘Mana’ is about reaching high but keeping your feet on the ground, ‘Mapa’ is about our family, our parents, ‘SLMT’ is for A’TIN who supported us in our journey,’ ‘Bazinga’ is for the doubters that motivated us to reach high, and ‘Ikako’ is for the frontliners who helped us to continue this journey despite the pandemic.”

Josh says that they were given creative freedom (as much as 100% in some parts) in making the album, which shows in how the songs reflect their journey up to now. The boys wanted to record new songs so much that they had to improvise a recording studio with comforters and cardboards. “Sa ibang songs po nagugulat kami na ‘Hala ang bilis natin na-record, ang bilis nasulat ni Pablo’,” says Justin.

Josh, Justin, Ken, Pablo, and Stell are back with their latest EP “Pagsibol,” proving to us that the group is just getting started. Photo from SONY MUSIC PHILIPPINES

The group admits that being this involved is a double-edged sword. They are currently preparing for their upcoming “Back In The Zone” virtual concert where everyone is participating in fleshing out every aspect of the event (especially Justin, who they reveal is involved with the creative side of things). “Honestly po ngarag kami,” says Josh. “Pero sisiguraduhin po namin na mag-e-enjoy ‘yung mga manonood sa amin at pinaghandaan naming mabuti ito lahat.”

Pablo adds, “Since it’s a virtual concert lang po, we want to make it explosive para naman po masabi ng mga fans, ng mga bumili ng ticket na talagang worth it ‘yung pera nila. Kasi po iba pa rin po kapag live concert ‘yung nagaganap eh so ang goal po namin is to give them something very extravagant… ‘yung masasabi nila na ‘Yes buti na lang bumili ako ng ticket for this concert’.”

When asked about how much they have learned so far, the group emphasizes the title of their album, signifying their journey as a group from their formative years. “Everyday is a learning process po,” says Stell. “Sa ngayon sa tingin mo okay ka na tapos kinabukasan ma-ri-realize mo na I can give more, I can do more. And sa mga taong nakakasama mo may matutunan ka. Dun mo masasabi ‘Bat hindi ko ‘to alam? Bakit hindi ko nalaman noon pa?’ Ganoon din po sa amin. Lahat po ng ginagawa namin ngayon hindi kami sigurado noong una pero ngayon nage-explore pa din kami kung ano ‘yung dapat namin gawin at mas mapapabuti namin para mas maganda pa yung mapapakita namin sa mga taong nakatingin sa amin.”

“That explains ‘yung ‘Pagsibol’ po, we’re growing,” Justin adds.

But now SB19 is expanding their global reach, with the backing of a massive platform like Spotify. SB19 followers have more than doubled on Spotify within just a year, from June 2020 to June 2021. The music streaming service is supporting “Pagsibol” with a media rollout involving jeepneys designed by six visual artists in collaboration with SB19 and inspired by the six tracks from the EP. The jeepneys will ply the roads soon so check the SB19 social media pages for announcements.

The artists are:

Ang Gerilya for “What?”
Soleil Ignacio for “MAPA”
Nelz Yumul for “Mana”
Jappy Agoncilio for “Bazinga”
Anina Rubio for “Ikako”
June Digan for “SLMT”

Spotify is supporting “Pagsibol” with a media rollout involving jeepneys designed by six Filipino visual artists in collaboration with SB19 and inspired by the six tracks from the EP.

“It’s been wonderful to be a part of SB19’s journey; watching their growth from RADAR artists to today reaching listeners all over the world,” says Kossy Ng, Spotify’s Head of Music for Asia. “We are thrilled to get behind the launch of 'Pagsibol' through this campaign and allowing fans, not only in the Philippines, but all over the world to experience their music. Spotify continues to champion the vibrant Philippine music scene by connecting more artists and fans.”

More SB19 exclusive content will also be featured in Spotify’s “Tatak Pinoy” playlist.

But what about merch? Spotify’s Kossy Ng mentioned exclusive photocards will be given away to the press in conjunction with the “Pagsibol” campaign, but Sony Music Philippines clarified that they will not be for sale. Though fans should watch out soon for SB19 merch.

"The Spotify photocards will not be sold. As such, they are real collectibles! But fans can watch out for similar items available for sale soon,” says Sony Music’s GM, Philippines & VP, Business Development, Asia, Roslyn Pineda.