Meet SB19, the Filipino boy band that rose from trainees to post-pandemic stars

How this band from Philippines became idols of a new brand of pop music and cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Social 50 chart

By Noopur Bangar

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Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 6:28 PM

In the dynamic world of Pinoy pop, one group stands out as a shining beacon of talent and ambition: SB19. With their catchy melodies, mesmerising performances, and steadfast commitment to their craft, Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin have won over audiences globally, earning acclaim as one of the leading acts in contemporary Filipino music.

SB19's story is one of astonishing success, going from being trainees to becoming wildly popular self-managed idols under 1Z Entertainment. "Starting in 2016, we had auditions back then," recalls Stell, one of the band members. "Pablo, Josh and I auditioned in the same year."

What started as personal dreams soon turned into a shared vision, leading to the creation of SB19 and an adventure that would surpass all expectations. Originally a trio with Stell, Josh and Pablo, the group grew to include Ken and Justin. Reflecting on their journey, Stell reminisces about the difficulties they encountered and the surprising happenings that resulted in them founding their own company, 1Z Entertainment. He emphasises their common ambition of making a mark on the music industry and cultivating future artists.

The group achieved two historic firsts for Southeast Asian musical acts. They were nominated for the Billboard Music Awards, marking the first time a South-east Asian act received that honour. Additionally, they cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Social 50 chart, becoming the first South-east Asian act to appear that high on the chart.

Despite quickly gaining popularity and being seen as a top Filipino pop act, SB19 stays humble and concentrated on its goals. "Being part of Pinoy pop or other OPM acts is one of the nicest compliments that we have, received," shares Josh, thinking about their influence in the music industry. "That's the ultimate goal of us. We created our own company to nurture talents and to continue the legacy that we've created."

SB19 takes an open approach to creating new music, working with various producers and artists to expand their creative horizons. As they plan forthcoming projects, the band hopes to integrate diverse influences and present something truly one-of-a-kind for their fans. The band also shared a teaser with their fans for their upcoming new release, Moonlight, which will feature the electronic-pop artists Ian Asher and Terry Zhong. Justin shares, “We started working on it last year during our world tour in Canada and the US. It's going to be released on May 3”. SB19 keeps pushing boundaries and checking out new musical territories.

SB19 cherishes every moment they have spent with their fans throughout their career, from performing on stage to interacting with fans during their world tour. The band deeply values the unwavering support and love they receive from their fans. They recalled a touching fan encounter during their world tour in Canada, “We were just waiting outside our hotel. And suddenly a car arrived. From the car, a grandma runs toward us while shouting in excitement. She said to us she was ready to die because she met us”, says Justin. He further adds, “Every moment with SB19 fans is memorable.” These special moments serve as reminders to the band of the profound impact they have on their fans' lives and the joy they can bring to their fans all over the world.

Despite encountering numerous challenges on their journey, SB19 continues to be motivated by their devoted fans. As Justin expresses, "I think for us, they're everything, they’ve been our inspirations. They've been our mood-setters. They've been like, you know, whether it's a bad or a good day, they always make us happy, make us laugh."

Josh shares a story highlighting the importance of social media in their career and says, “We always try to find ways to put ourselves out there and be known by people. During the pandemic, we thought we were over. There were no gigs or live events. But because of social media, we survived. A lot of people got to know our story. I think our story is magical and we are thankful.”

Social media has played a pivotal role in SB19’s journey. In 2019, the band released a dance rehearsal video for their song Go Up which went viral on Twitter and Facebook. Social media has also allowed them to connect to their fans, receive feedback and share their story on a global scale. “Social media helped us to not only connect with our fans but also other artists, helping us to grow and learn. It allows us to create something big and different”, says Stell. It has played a crucial role in shaping their career trajectory.

The band is currently on their ‘Pagtatag! World Tour’, comprising 18 shows that started on June 24, 2023, in Quezon City, Philippines. They have put on shows in the Philippines, the United States, and Canada so far. Fans, referred to as A'TIN, in the UAE and worldwide can expect an exciting concert with a complete setlist of popular songs like Gento, Crimzone, Bazinga, and more. SB19 has shared the final portion of their Asian tour, bringing their thrilling performance to Dubai as the next-to-last stop.

SB19's rise from trainees to pop superstars demonstrates their skill, determination, and dedication to their aspirations. Their trajectory spotlights their abilities, tenacity, and unflagging devotion to their ambitions. With objectives of setting new horizons and opportunities, they stay dedicated to their art, supporters, and collective vision of having an enduring influence on the global stage. In a shifting panorama of pop tunes, SB19 towers as standard-bearers of Pinoy honour and musical excellence.


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