SB19 has had a busy summer.
If you asked them how they’re feeling, they’d be honest and say they’re a bit overwhelmed. It’s no surprise as the Pinoy Pop group has been nonstop the entire summer. In June, they dropped their EP, Pagtatag, and began a North American tour spanning 10 cities from July through August and are still traveling for promotional reasons.Their latest single “GENTO” is gaining a lot of traction on social media as their Dance Challenge is going viral as popular influencers and K-Pop idols take the challenge. Their fans, known as “A-TIN”, which means “ours” in Tagalog, recently beat out all the other fandoms to win Billboard’s Fan Army Face-Off Challenge. They will perform with Golden Hour collaborator JVKE in Boston before finally returning home to get some rest.
“Of course, it’s really overwhelming during our tour [because] there’s a lot of things happening,” SB19’s Justin tells Timid Magazine. “There have been so many inquiries and we’re just very excited with all these opportunities that we [are receiving] right now. I think, for us, there’s pressure because of those opportunities [and] we have to prepare more. We have to prepare ourselves to do better and to achieve even more.”
Seated together in the Sony Music office, SB19—Pablo, Felip, Stell, Justin, and Josh—are all smiles when talking about their whirlwind of a summer and everything it took to get to this place. Since their debut in 2018, SB19 has been working hard to make it in the industry, almost breaking up until their release of their upbeat hit “Go Up” as well as their increased social media presence. Becoming the first Filipino act to appear on Billboard’s Next Big Sound Chart, SB19 skyrocketed to one studio album, two EPs, and three tours, including their recent Pagtatag! world tour and aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
SB19 credits A’TINs as the reason they’ve been able to continue their music. Pablo explains, “I think because A’TIN directly translates in English to ‘ours' so, whatever our goal is, we share that goal. Of course, we’re doing our best to put Filipino music in the world scene. [Our fans are] also doing their best to help us achieve that goal. I think that fandom name ‘A’TIN’ is a very special thing to share with all of our fans and we’re just grateful that these events are very passionate and they’re really trying their best to help us achieve our goals.”
Timid Magazine got to chat with SB19 about their tour and collaborations, their musical journey, and their viral GENTO Dance Challenge.
Justin: [The concept] is part of the trilogy that we have. [Our first EP] Pagsibol is where SB19 started. We show our individuality and Pagtatag shows how SB19 is right now. From Pagsibol right now, we’re Gento right now. We are this right now. We are bold. It’s post-apocalyptic because after all those struggles that we’ve been through—a lot of challenges and chaos.
Pablo: Basically, after all the bad things and all the hardships and all the struggles in the world, we try to relate that to our album because we want to show after all of those struggles, this SB19 is right now. We’re stronger. We’ve been refined like gold.
Pablo: As a group, we’ve always been very open with each other. We don’t want to stay stagnant or do nothing. We’re always thinking about things to do. So we try to innovate and try to create something to show something new to our fans.
Justin: The pandemic [caused] a great impact for us at first. We thought that SB19 would end, but we [were] surprised [when all that] turned [around] because we were able to utilize social media [to] perform. We used that to promote ourselves. I think it was a great opportunity for us—the pandemic is not a good thing that happened, but [we were able to make it work]. During that time, while we were all scared, it made us stronger. Our relationship [with each other] became stronger because we missed each other and were scared of losing what we have together.
Stell: We are excited to perform again. During the pandemic, we managed to have an online concert. It was a blessing for us to have a successful online concert. That happened because of A’TIN. They really supported our concert even though it was not a live concert, they were very happy that we had the chance to perform and connect again with everybody.
TM: SB19 are breaking so many firsts for Filipinos and Southeast Asians—first Billboard Music Award nomination, breaking the top 10 global charts with Gento, and many other amazing achievements that are breaking barriers and paving the way for other Pinoy Pop to break through. How have you been handling these momentous moments?
Josh: It’s too much for us to handle everything at once, but all of it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for A’TIN. Of course, our friends and families and our team behind us have been helping us. All of them have to be credited with all these achievements that we’ve been receiving. It’s a great testament of the connection with us and the fans. It’s really overwhelming but we’re really happy that all of us are working together to achieve what we’ve been aiming for.
Josh: JVKE actually explained it in his video on YouTube. We are very lucky to be representing the Philippines and be the ones chosen for the collaboration. We just let the magic happen afterward and it was very refreshing that we could showcase the culture and the Philippines like the Filipino language with that song.
Stell: We are hoping to have a lot of collaborations with other artists, especially for the upcoming 5th anniversary. We might do something special or something different, but we can’t say it right now. We’re hoping for a lot of collaboration projects with other artists because this era of SB19 is all about exploring and trying other things and bettering other careers. Of course, we prioritize our career as SB19 but if we were given a chance to collaborate with other artists, we will grab that opportunity. We will do our best to have great opportunities and collaborate with other artists that we want to collaborate with.
Pablo: It would be a really interesting thing to do. I always think about a K-Pop collaboration, but [really] thinking about it, it’ll be really hard to distribute the lines because a K-Pop group already has seven lines and then you will put another group with four or five members, it’ll be one line per member. It’s an interesting idea. I definitely would like to try that.
Josh: Yeah, like ATEEZ. I think ATEEZ is one of the biggest artists in Korea right now. Of course, if given a chance, I would love to collaborate with big artists [like ATEEZ]. The GENTO Wave is actually happening in Korea right now. I would honestly be open to collaborating with other artists, if given a chance.
Stell: That’s a hard one. I’m seeing a lot of artists in different countries doing the GENTO Dance Challenge on TikTok. Of course, we’re very happy and overwhelmed. We really didn’t expect this one to blow up like that. We know that TikTok is a very good way to promote your songs, but we really didn’t expect to blow up [there]. But we are very happy and we are very blessed to see a lot of artists doing the dance. It’s a great pleasure for us to see them doing that. Every time we see their videos, we try to leave a comment or repost just to show appreciation. If given a chance to collaborate with them in the future, we will be happy.
Pablo: It’s really hard to pick one challenger that’s the best among all the rest. They [all] have their own style, especially Korean groups. They have different styles of dancing. Like [TikTok dancer] Niana [Guerrero] is a good dancer.
Justin: A lot of TikTokers.
Pablo: They are really energetic [with] powerful lines. For others, they have the vibe, so it’s different. It’s hard to pick one challenger.
Josh: By actually singing our songs and trying to learn the language. Of course, trying the food. There are so many ways to embrace Filipino culture. It depends on what you want [to do]. There’s no restrictions or anything—just enjoy whatever we have and I think that’s all that matters.
Pablo: I guess one thing besides the music to share with our fans is the food. Ever since we’ve been to the US, we’ve been craving Filipino food. Filipino food is something that we couldn’t live without. Rice! I’ve missed my mom because of this. She always cooks for us. Filipino food for me is the best. We had a boodle fight with someone—eating with their bare hands—and sharing stories with them. That’s one thing that is great to share with international A’TIN! It’ll be something different for them because in the Philippines, people use their bare hands to eat rice and viand.
Felip: Staying in the hotel room and laundry. [laughs]
Josh: Seeing different cultures from different states and cities. North America is one of the biggest continents that we’ve been to. It’s actually the first time we’ve traveled somewhere really this big and seen different weather, cultures, and all the people with different accents. It’s really fun and we’re glad to meet the fans and new people.
Stell: For me, [I’ve been] enjoying every city and trying different restaurants and their food. I like going to the mall, buying something, just talking to strangers, and walking around the streets. [I’ve] visited a lot of museums and historical places and seen a movie. Buying gifts for my Filipino friends.
Justin: Tourist attractions.
Josh: It’s really great that you can actually tell the difference from West to East Coast easily. I really enjoyed the differences of the food and weather—which is a really big difference.
Stell: For some reason, I enjoy talking to a lot of strangers here. It’s like you can talk to anyone and ask about anything and they don’t judge. You can wear anything you—anyway, anytime. You do you.
Pablo: A’TIN, I would like to thank you. We just want to say that we’re grateful for all the support and love that you have been giving us. We’re slowly getting there. We are all hoping for something big and we’re trying our best. And with your help and support, we know that, in time, we will make it. I hope that you keep supporting us and our culture. When we get there, we will celebrate together. Thank you so much for being with us for almost five years already. We love you all so much.