SB19 members, now self-managed stars, draw on frustration as artists to fuel their motivation
SB19’s Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin have always shown a bright demeanor whether it’s interacting with the press or fans. But kicking off their “Pagtatag!” album launch with a performance of “Gento,” a refreshing change from their usual entrance, is a sign of their excitement to be free.
The launch, which took place at a warehouse in Manila, happened to fall on the same day of the release of their second EP “Pagtatag!” SB19, in their most stylish stage outfits, were excited to establish themselves with no holds barred.
“Kami ‘yung P-pop group na nag-transition from artists to self-managed,” Stell told select media invited at the launch. True enough, the event was not just a celebration of their record. It was a moment that confirmed talks swirling in the P-pop community—SB19 is now a self-managed group under 1Z Entertainment, a company put up by the members themselves.
From a ‘crazy idea’ to reality
“It all started as a crazy idea during [our] trainee days. Nagbibiruan kami na ‘Balang araw, gagawa tayo ng sarili nating company, our own management.’ We’ll [handpick] the people na pinagkakatiwalaan namin,” Josh said, when they were asked to speak about being self-managed artists. Little did they know that this “crazy idea” was a manifestation of their goal.
But Josh said during the launch that “crazy people” are actually the ones who can make a difference, saying that 1Z Entertainment is built for the P-pop and OPM industry.
“Sabi nga nila, crazy people are the ones who get to change the world. Ang 1Z, we didn’t just build it for SB19. We built it for the P-pop and OPM industry because we wanted to challenge the industry and the market,” he explained. “We wanted to hone talents at ipagpatuloy ang nangyayari sa’min kasi may momentum na. We just have to push harder para mag-grow at makamit ang growth of OPM and hopefully, help the Philippine economy [in the future].”
It can be noted that the “Wild Tonight” singer’s remark is a seeming callback to his statement during a press conference for the Pinoy Pop Convention back in April 2022, where he hoped that the rise of P-pop would help the local economy.
But while SB19 are excited about taking control of their career, the members’ eyes were glittering with tears as Stell spoke about having the responsibility of managing themselves. The emotion was evident that the group’s main vocalist had to take a short pause and ask his bandmates, “Uy, bakit kayo umiiyak?” even if it’s clear that he’s getting emotional as well.
“Nakakadala rin ng emosyon kasi happy kami talaga,” he said. “Kasi bago mabuo ang ‘Pagtatag’ and [1Z Entertainment], sobrang dami naming pinagdaanan na challenges, problems. And ‘yung SB19 mismo na name, sobrang malaki siya. Pero right now na seeing this event, sobrang happy kami talaga and kahit hindi pa namin naabot ang rurok na tagumpay na [inaasam] namin. Ngayon pa lang, masasabi namin na happy and successful na kami talaga.”
1Z Entertainment’s goal
As a callback to their goal of “getting in the zone” of the music industry, Stell explained that the tagline of 1Z Entertainment is, “To get you in the zone and break the norm.”
“In the future, we might nurture other talents. And sana, dumating kami sa punto na kaya naming i-challenge ang market sa Pilipinas and other media,” he added. “In the future, we’re planning a lot of things ahead na pwede naming gawin. Not only as SB19, but with other possible talents dito sa Pilipinas.”
Meanwhile, Pablo shared that the purpose of their label is to help aspiring artists realize their own potential. Speaking as the group’s leader, he also pointed out that 1Z Entertainment is about showing what the country’s talents can offer.
“Na-create namin ang 1Z for everyone to grow as one big tree. Marami ring artists [sa industry] na may frustrations such as budget and whatnot, pero in time, alam kong kaya ng mga Pinoy na makipagsabayan sa international level,” the “La Luna” singer said. “Sa talento ng mga tao rito, wala kang itatapon talaga. Ginto ang mga Pilipino. Hinihintay lang namin ang oras na dumating, at sinasakyan namin ang momentum para maipakita sa mundo kung anong kaya natin.”
Josh, who was nodding in agreement to Pablo’s remarks, admitted that building 1Z Entertainment was a “risk,” but it’s a risk that they’re willing to take to promote the local music industry.
“We could’ve chosen a somewhat [normal] thing, na makapag-ipon for ourselves or our families. Pero ito, it’s a risk that we’re taking now kasi naniniwala kami sa yaman ng mga Pilipino, ang talento ng mga Pilipino. Sana magtulungan tayo para i-push ang arts and culture ng Pilipinas,” he said.
“This is not an easy path, it’s a big risk we’re taking right now but I hope [ito ay] magandang output that can [inspire] a lot of people who want to challenge the market and to grow the industry,” he continued.
After all, the group revealed that they’re planning to hone talents when the right time comes. Or in Stell’s exact words, “May minamataan na po si Pablo”—a seeming hint that the group is on the lookout for the music industry’s next biggest stars.
As of this writing, full details about 1Z Entertainment are still kept under wraps, but it was clear from SB19’s expression that they’re excited about gaining freedom as self-managed stars. Sure enough, they have a track called “Freedom” in their EP—which happens to be the song Stell admits is the most personal to him.
“Even though a lot of people might say that we’re successful, there’s a lot of trial and error. We have a lot of frustrations [as artists], and ‘yung pinagdaanan namin before ang naging pinaka-motivation namin,” Josh explained, when the group was asked about their inspiration behind the label.
“Gusto naming ma-improve lahat. Not just for us, but also for the entire entertainment industry. Gusto talaga naming i-level up to the max. Same as Hollywood, J-pop, K-pop, whatever pop, sa lahat ng entertainment industry, gusto namin for the greater good of everyone. And ‘yung tine-take namin na as one of the flag-bearers of the Philippines, gusto naming mag-step up, or i-step ang game ng industriya,” Josh continued.
In a follow-up to Josh’s response, Pablo explained that their label can be viewed as an “ecosystem” where artists can grow. “Ang goal namin is to create an ecosystem for artists like us kung saan sila magbe-benefit and mage-excel. ‘Yun po talaga ang motivation namin sa ginagawa namin. ‘Yung frustration namin as an artist ang naging motivation namin,” he said.
Josh, on the other hand, claimed that SB19 values their craft “so much,” citing it as one of the reasons why they chose to build their own company. “It’s actually refreshing and exciting to explore,” he began.
“We value our craft so much na kahit konting may magalaw, sobrang sensitive ang buong group kasi tinitignan namin ang craft namin na sacred ito. Now that we have full control, I think we can freely express [ourselves] at mas mama-maximize kung ano ‘yung ginagawa namin before. It can help us push boundaries and achieve greater heights, not just for us, but the whole OPM industry,” he added.
As they take on a path of being self-managed artists, smiles can be seen on SB19’s faces when they were asked about their future goals at the event.
“Aside sa pagiging artist and performer, napag-usapan namin na gusto naming ma-experience ang acting, theater, kahit actually hosting. Gusto naming ma-experience on what we can learn, and gamitin ang natutunan namin to improve our company 1Z,” the group’s youngest member Justin said with an eager grin.
It’s clear that 1Z Entertainment is one of the many milestones that SB19 accomplished in their career. But Pablo believes that they would achieve greater success now that they have full control.
“With the power of the people who believe in us, hindi malayo na makikilala ‘yung music ng Filipino. Talagang push lang nang push pero sana hindi lang ng ibang sectors,” he said. “We’re really, really thankful na we’re in this position right now that we’re able to do different things and siyempre, pagma-manage. We’re excited to share our knowledge [with] other people.”
On the other hand, Ken—who was intently listening to his bandmates’ remarks—had such a peaceful aura all throughout the night.
“It isn’t luck na nandito kami ngayon na pinagsama-sama kaming lima,” he said, when he was asked to explain the meaning of their hit song “Gento.” “‘Yung gold, matinding proseso rin ang pinagdaanan niya so gaya sa amin, matindi rin ang pinagdaanan namin, ang hard work namin, blood, sweat, and tears ang binuhos namin para makarating sa ganito kalayo na lugar.” EDV