SB19 recalls early struggles before becoming leading P-pop band

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BY ELLA MARIE MERCADO

SB19 recalled their humble beginnings and how they almost disbanded because of their uncertain future in the Filipino music industry.

“Magre-release tayo ng last song. ‘Pag ‘di talaga nagwork, mag-stop na tayo,” Justin of SB19 revealed in an interview with Toni Gonzaga for her YouTube series Toni Talks. This happened shortly before releasing their hit single, Go Up.

The P-pop group consisting of Josh, Pablo, Justin, Stell and Ken debuted in 2018 with their single Tilaluha, after three years of training under ShowBT Philippines, the Philippine subsidiary of the Korean management company, ShowBT.

From 2016, the members trained without enough monetary compensation and support that it was a common occurrence among them to borrow money from relatives to get by during their trainee period.

SB19 members from the left: Stell, Pablo, Ken, Justin and Justin with Toni Gonzaga (Photo/SB19 Twitter)

“Nagtratraining po ako pero honestly wala akong nakakain sa araw-araw. Nanghihingi ako ng pagkain kay Pablo, gano’n. Kapag ‘di siya nakapag baon edi ‘di din ako kakain,” Josh shared.

It wasn’t until they released their second single Go Up that they started to gain recognition. The music’s choreography video gained traction after it was shared on Twitter by a fan account.

The synchronization of the group akin to the K-pop culture of synchronized dancing and singing charmed the audience and catapulted them into the Filipino music spotlight and media.

But the rise of popularity wasn’t always positive. Their presence was met with criticisms as they were inevitably compared to the K-pop idols, both in performance and in aesthetics.

The group recalled an instance when they asked their taxi driver if they knew SB19.
“Ah, oo kilala ko. ‘Yang mga ano, mga nagfee-feeling Koreano na sinto-sinto,” the taxi driver allegedly said.

They would also receive hate comments on their social media platforms.

“Nakakabwisit (daw) ‘yung dilaw yung buhok’ gusto niya raw pong barilin,” Pablo shared his shock over the petty but violent comment they saw pertaining to him.

But this year, the group made history by being the first Filipino and the first Southeast Asian act to be nominated for Billboard Music Awards for the Top Social Artist category. They were also the only Southeast Asian act to enter the Top 10 in the Top Social 50 Artists of 2020.

As they continue to gain more attention and fans, they use the criticisms against them to rise above adversities.

“Hindi na siya nagiging big deal, so far. Lalo na ngayon kasi mas marami ng love ‘yung natatanggap namin ngayon, lalo na from our fans. Saka sa mga casual people din eh,” Josh said.

“Parang the tables have turned,” he added, as more people appreciate their music and see past the prejudice of being just an imitation of the K-pop music scene.

SB19 will release their first mini album Pagsibol this July 22, ahead of their virtual concert, Back in the Zone on Aug. 1.

Watch the full interview below:

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