Pinoy pop

SB19 strengthens their identity in ‘PAGTATAG!’ EP 

Ysa Abad

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SB19 strengthens their identity in ‘PAGTATAG!’ EP 

NEW EP. SB19 releases 'Pagtatag!' ahead of their second world tour.

Sony Music Philippines

The group opens up about how 'refreshing' and 'exciting' it is to have 'full control' of their releases

While the recent rise of P-pop seems synonymous with SB19’s growth, the group’s journey hasn’t always been easy. 

“People might see na parang we’re always successful. ‘Yun ang akala ng tao (That’s what people have assumed), but we have a lot of trials and errors,” Josh said during the media launch of their new EP PAGTATAG! on Friday, June 9.

“We have a lot of frustrations, internally. At saka, ‘yung mga pinagdaanan namin before ang naging pinaka-motivation namin (And everything that we went through before has become our motivation,)” he continued.

It was from these shortcomings and failures that SB19 drew inspiration for their latest EP.

Described as their boldest release yet, PAGTATAG! sees the group venturing into other genres but still maintaining their signature candor and vulnerability.

PAGTATAG!, considered the second release in the group’s album trilogy, serves as a follow-up to the group’s July 2021 EP PAGSIBOL. If PAGSIBOL talks about the group’s growth from virtual unknowns to P-pop pioneers, PAGTATAG! reflects on how such a journey has hardened them into the artists that they are today. 

Kung sa ‘PAGSIBOL,’ nag-eexperiment pa kami, sa ‘PAGTATAG,’ alam na po namin kung sino ang SB19,” Pablo said.

(In PAGSIBOL, we were still experimenting with who we were. But in PAGTATAG!, we already know who we are.)

Justin explained that while PAGSIBOL talks about them finding their footing in the industry, the newest EP shows them in a more confident position as artists: “This time sa ‘PAGTATAG,’ ito kami, ito si SB19 (This time, with PAGTATAG, you’ll see us, you’ll see SB19).” 

Makikita niyo po sa mga kwento ng songs na parang, ‘Ah, ito ‘yung nangyari sa SB19. Ito sila ngayon,’” he continued. “Sa ‘PAGSIBOL,’ may icon po ‘yung album na question mark. Tinanatanong natin kung sino at ano ang SB19. Dito po sa ‘PAGTATAG!,’ sinasagot na naman ‘yung tanong. Ito si SB19 at ito ang kwento ng SB19.”

(In the stories in PAGTATAG!’s songs, you’ll see what SB19 has gone through. You’ll realize who we’ve become. PAGSIBOL’s album cover had a question mark – it was asking who and what SB19 was. Here in PAGTATAG!, we are answering that question. This is SB19, and this is our story.)

Of PAGTATAG!’s six tracks, “GENTO” was released first, prior to the EP launch. As to why they chose it as the album’s lead track, Ken shared that it was because the song “summarizes the whole journey of SB19.” 

SB19 strengthens their identity in ‘PAGTATAG!’ EP 

“GENTO,” an EDM pop track that features a play on the Filipino words ganito (like this) and ginto (gold), carries the message of growth and resilience, with the boys likening their journey of refinement to that of gold.

Yung gold, matinding proseso ang dinadaanan. Gaya sa amin, matinding proseso po ‘yung pinagdaanan namin. ‘Yung hard work namin, blood, sweat, and tears ang binuhos namin para makarating kami sa ganitong lugar,” Ken said. 

(Gold goes through a tough process to become what it is. Just like us, we also went through a lot. We worked hard and poured our blood, sweat, and tears into where we are now.) 

The EP’s second track, “I WANT YOU,” sees the group’s foray into slow R&B territory. “CRIMZONE,” a pop track that reflects on the group’s struggles and triumphs, uses hard-hitting beats to symbolize SB19’s breaking of boundaries.

Ballads “Ilaw” and “Liham” not only captivate listeners with the group’s vocal prowess, but the songs also feature the members being vulnerable about love, devotion, and authenticity. 

The EP then ends with “FREEDOM” – an upbeat track that celebrates the group’s autonomy and the milestones they’ve reached. 

Pagdating sa music, ‘yung pag-evolve (When it comes to music, the way we evolve), we’re trying to experiment or figure out who we are,Pablo reflected. “Palagi namin tinatanong (We always used to ask), will people like this? Will people enjoy this song? Tama ba itong instrument ang nilagay ko (Did I use the right instrument here)?” 

 But this time, sa PAGTATAG!, ito ‘yung gusto namin ilabas eh. Pakinggan niyo. Ganun ‘yung thinking namin. Ito ‘yung nararamdaman namin, ito ‘yung story ng SB19. Bakit namin kailangan ibahin or parang i-mold para mas magustuhan ng mga tao?” Pablo went on.

“Musically and sonically for this EP, parang ang masasabi ko lang, bukod sa may freedom kami, talagang sigurado kami sa nilabas namin,” he concluded.

(But this time, in PAGTATAG!, this is what we wanted to put out. Listen to it. That’s our way of thinking – here’s what we feel, here’s our story. Why would we change it or mold it in a different way just so other people would like it? Musically and sonically for this EP, what I can say is that aside from having more freedom, we’re more certain of what we’re releasing.) 

It’s an assertion not all artists would be confident making, but SB19 has already proven to be of a different caliber. Almost five years into their career, the boys are now self-managed artists, having established their own label: 1Z Entertainment. 

“This is not an easy path. It’s a big risk that we’re taking right now,” Josh said. “But I hope that magkaroon siya ng magandang output (we provide good output) and of course, inspiration to a lot of people.”

Like their track “FREEDOM,” Josh shared that it was liberating to finally have a say in their artistic direction: “It’s actually refreshing to explore, and exciting, of course, to explore this kind of field.”

Detailing how they “value [their] craft so much,” Josh shared that they’re “super sensitive” even with the minute details of their releases. “Ganon namin talaga tinitingnan ‘yung craft namin, kasi sacred ito para samin (That’s how we really see our craft, it’s something sacred for us). And now that we have the full control, the full capacity…we can freely express and maximize kung ano ‘yung ginagawa namin before (what we’ve been doing before).” 

SB19 strengthens their identity in ‘PAGTATAG!’ EP 

In an industry where artists are expected to constantly innovate themselves, SB19 has no qualms.

“Maybe this would really help to push boundaries and achieve greater heights for us. Not just for us, but for the whole OPM industry,” Josh said. 

Gusto namin mag-improve lahat. Gusto namin i-level up to the maximum. Same as Hollywood, same as J-pop, K-pop, or whatever pop, sa lahat ng entertainment industry. Ang gusto lang namin ay syempre, for the greater good of everyone. Ito ‘yung siguro pinag-take namin as one of the flag-bearers of the Philippines. Gusto namin i-step up ‘yung game ng buong industriya,” he added. 

(We want to improve a lot of things. We want to level it up – the same as in Hollywood, J-pop, K-pop, whatever-pop or entertainment industry. What we want is, of course, for the greater good of everyone. This is what being one of the flag-bearers of the Philippines means to us. We want to step up the game for the whole industry.) 

The five-piece act is aware of the influence that they have on the industry, and has acknowledged that they’re trying to make the best out of it. “Ang goal din and dream namin is to create an ecosystem na talagang artists like us, parang different field din, talagang mag-bebenefit or talagang mag-eexcel,” Pablo said. 

(Our goal and dream is really to create an ecosystem where artists like us, even from different fields, would benefit and excel.) 

Stell echoed the sentiment, saying that they’re even thinking of honing future talents under 1Z Entertainment. 

Kapag nagkataon, ‘yung mga natutunan namin sa career namin, ‘yung mga nalalaman namin, pwede naming i-impart sa kanila. Kung paano maging performer, or maging confident sa sarili nila,” Stell said. 

Sana dumating rin po kami sa punto na kaya na namin i-challenge ‘yung market dito sa Philippines and other places. Kasi parang ang tagline ni 1Z ay: ‘To get you in the zone and break the norm.’ So parang in the future, we are planning a lot of things not only with SB19 but with other possible talents dito sa Pilipinas.” 

(If given the chance, we could impart what we’ve learned from our careers – like how to be a performer and how to be confident in yourself. We also want to reach the point where we could challenge the market here in the Philippines and other areas. Because the [1Z Entertainment] tagline is: ‘To get you in the zone and break the norm.’ So in the future, we are planning a lot of things not only for SB19, but also for other possible talents here in the Philippines.)

But Stell stressed that managing other talents is still in the pipeline, as the group is focusing first on building their momentum as self-managed artists. 

“Now that we have full control and we have the people that we trust, the quality will only get better and better,” Pablo promised. “And with the power of the people who believe in us, talagang di malayo na makilala ‘yung music ng Filipino (it will be quite possible for Filipino music to gain recognition.)”

The group is set to embark on their PAGTATAG! world tour in July, with Pablo even hinting that they’re already working on Simula at Wakas, the third installment of their album trilogy. Nonetheless, Justin said that they are also interested in venturing into other fields. 

Lagi naming napag-uusapan ‘yun (We always talk about this). We want to experience acting, even theater, kahit ‘yung hosting. Parang gusto din naming may experience so that we can learn more din and mas ma-apply namin ‘yung mga experience na ‘yun to improve our company. (We want to have experiences that we can learn from, so we can apply these lessons to improving our company.)”

A’TIN, then, still have much to look forward to, because despite how much SB19 has grown, they still have more to offer. –

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