Aces High: The Unstoppable Force of P-pop Group BGYO
In a normal game of cards, players would call it quits once an ace card is drawn, and that is precisely what BGYO is. As we bid, bet and fold, and continuously shuffle cards, BGYO is the ace we'd draw to close the deal of who is the next big thing in Ppop: heart-stopping, jaw-dropping and daring overall. It's not beginner's luck for the young group, but it was a good fate.
Rushing to Rxandy Capinpin Studio in San Juan City one early morning in June, to say the least, I feel the rush to finally meet these boys I've seen covering K-pop songs on my Twitter feed and Prive's IG account. Arriving three hours earlier than the agreed time for the shoot, they had to wait patiently for the rest of the production staff, which they did. Now, afraid that I am too late to catch them in their casual, unstyled glory (to at least make small talk and revel in their transformation), I entered the studio with them spending their downtime done with their makeup and either doing their solo interview, or on their phone, or taking a short nap. And as the clock struck 10, seemingly like they had 8 hours of sleep, they were ready to capture all our hearts as we went on with the shoot.
On JL & Akira: Suit by Ryan Chris Baylen, On Gelo: Polo and Trousers by Ryan Chris Baylen, Sweater by Renan Pacson, On Mikki: Suit by Ryan Chris Baylen, Shirt by CELINE, On Nate: Oversized Trousers by HANSEN; Custom Pins by KUROBARA.
As it's their first magazine cover as a group in PARCINQ's Music Issue this month, they were totally in the groove and mood, radiating nothing but good energy in the studio — or maybe it's because the 5-member group-- Gelo, Akira, Nate, Mikki, and JL were all darlings. As the youngest people on the set, the boys made sure to introduce themselves to the crew, breaking that wall of intimidation from their recognizable fame, the huge fanbase that they genuinely adore, and their overwhelming visuals and talent. While balanced with their readiness and professionalism, that would make you think they've been doing this for years. They knew when to joke around and laugh with us and when to put their serious faces on, probably one can learn from years of training to be an idol. Everyone can't help but gush at their antics and indefinitely praise them for their on-camera aura.
A Force to be Reckoned With
For the uninitiated, BGYO (pronounced B-G-Y-O) is a sing-rap-dance quintet under ABS-CBN Star Hunt Academy, composed of Gelo (20), Akira (20), JL (19), Mikki (19) and Nate (18). Contrary to the assumption of many, BGYO isn't a shortened version of the Tagalog word bagyo which means storm or cyclone. Their name actually means "Becoming the change, Going further, You and I, Originally Filipino."
But with their talent, looks, and musical prowess, their name might as well be bagyo because they're surely bringing a storm to the Ppop scene.
World-Class Training from SoKor
BGYO, although locally produced and grown, is internationally trained. They had two years of training from Filipino and South Korean mentors from MU Doctor Academy–a known training group for idol wannabes.
Their training is the fusion of Filipino and Korean approaches to performing that brings out the best of these boys as JL shares, "Magkaiba po sila ng techniques na tinuturo. Pero ang maganda po dun is pwede mong silang kunin parehas, like pwede mo siyang i-combine yung technique ng Korean and technique ng Filipino na coaches."
One cannot help but be amazed by BGYO's determination to debut as their foreign training was paired with other activities on the side. "May outside performances pa kami together with the local coaches," leader Gelo said, recalling his trainee days. He also told us that because of the plethora of things they were doing at the same time, coupled with them going on strict diets, they became more emotional.
But having a brotherhood like BGYO's got them through the ordeals of being a Ppop artist. "Parang ang nagpapasaya na lang sa 'min talaga is kunwari nagkukwentuhan kami, pinag-uusapan na lang namin is about mga pangarap," BGYO's 20-year-old leader explained.
A Different Path in Life
Like every kid, we all had that childhood dream, and we can expect that BGYO members were made for the big stage, but surprisingly we found out that Akira used to not see himself as a singer. While his other members always dreamt of performing in front of many, Akira says his childhood dream was completely different and unexpected.
Smiling like a child, when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" he passionately shared about his dream of becoming a pilot. "Any kind of pilot. Pwedeng Air Force, commercial pilot, cargo pilot. Basta pilot," Akira beamed. And up to this day, he still daydreams about being called 'captain' and flying an aircraft around the world.
"Mas na-open ako sa reality na P-pop na ako and kaya ko rin libutin yung mundo habang nag-tatrabaho," he purposely confessed, "Kumbaga, plan B ko yung pag-pa-pilot, plan A ko 'tong career ko." But it isn’t so bad to see a Ppop artist and a flight captain in one, right?
Mikki, who has always been inclined to music-making, also expressed his initial plans before training as a P-pop artist, "Musician po yes pero maging P-pop artist hindi ko po siya naisip dati." Admittedly, he was not familiar with P-pop but just like any teenage boy, he drew influence and inspiration from Western rap artists. This sparked his ambition to be a rapper which he bagged as his position within the group.
They may not have imagined this as their future, but this date with destiny was very much welcomed by the boys. As Akira says, "Hindi ko po na-imagine na mapupunta ako sa P-pop and nakakagulat kasi hindi mo talaga alam kung saan ka dadalhin ng destiny. Siguro, in-open ni God' tong opportunity na 'to sa akin. So hindi ko na pinalampas, grinab ko na.”
Selling Records, Leaving a Mark
BGYO has already put their heart and soul into becoming one of the finest artists in the country and has put it on the top of their priority list. Age is just a number for these boys as they start reaching huge milestones early in their careers.
Their debut single, 'The Light', has now been streamed for over 800,000 times on Spotify alone–an impressive stat for a newcomer–but they aren't stopping there. And why should they? The boys, together with their fans, are at an all-time high with the continuous acclamations. They even have an established fanbase locally and internationally, and they just celebrated their sixth month into their careers! So who's stopping them?
Definitely, no one.
Despite the global pandemic and the quarantine that came with it, BGYO hits the studio and prepares music for their ACEs. And it was as if we'd turned on an energy switch when we asked the boys about their upcoming plans. "Masasabi ko lang po siguro, opposite siya ng 'The Light', totally different from that [EDM-ish]," Akira excitedly shared while trying not to reveal more of what's in store for ACEs, their fans.
Yes, the group's fandom is called ACEs, which the members themselves chose. It was one of the hundreds of entries that the fans submitted when the group asked for fandom name suggestions. Gelo announced the official name during a live on April 9.
The name seems fitting as BGYO's fans are pivotal to the success the band is continuously achieving right now. They constantly promote the group, stream (and share!) their songs and music videos, watch their live streams, and of course, show the five boys so much love and support.
BGYO's fans are quite literally the epitome of the phrase 'lucky aces'! They are closely the reflection of their idols and, as their name suggests: thriving and elite.
Aces of P-pop
The fast-rising members of the group are now dubbed as the aces of P-pop, which others may think was earned too early in their career, but we see why BGYO would be called as such.
On Gelo: Blazer by Ryan Chris Baylen On Nate: Jacket by Kelvin Morales,trousers by Ryan Chris Baylen,On Akira, Mikki, and JL: Custom cropped blazer: @thriftkotoph x Bryan Laroza.
Even after a great debut, they've still been constantly training on weekdays from 8 AM to 4 PM with breaks in between. "Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, meron [din] po kaming KUMU livestream at 6 to 9 PM," Mikki said while deep in thought. Their rigid daily schedules are left unnoticed by fans and casual listeners alike when they stream on KUMU and release content recorded late at night when they are very loud and makulit towards their fans during these times.
BGYO also sings the original soundtrack for the series 'He's Into Her'! Plus, we know that they have an upcoming album sometime this year, and a co-headline concert with girl group BINI in the last quarter of 2021.
And of course, can we forget how the boys have also gone international recently! In what can be called a dream come true, BGYO got to wear pieces from Prive Alliance designed by K-pop group EXO's Baekhyun, which they proudly flaunt during the shoot. As both an EXO fan and a newborn ACE, I can't help but be kilig that I get to see handsome men wear clothes I can only afford when on sale.
We can only imagine how giddy and excited the boys were when they got the invitation from Prive Alliance, seeing that they danced to almost all K-pop tunes we played while on set. And can I forget when Gelo shared his adoration for different K-pop groups, their blueprint and so-called 'idols of idols?'
The Energy We Need
While they virtually have no time for breaks, these five boys always have their (handsome) game faces when working–just like at our shoot.
Saying their goodbyes and a cheer-y "1,2 Thank you po!" to the whole staff, BGYO brings a different kind of energy wherever they go, and it's a youthful vibe that we love.
If we'd be dealt with the same cards, to draw once again, we'd be the forehand to put our bid on these aces and until then, let's savour what they have shown the world. Let BGYO do the honour of being the head-turning, surprising men to win our hearts over and over again.
Cover Story by Katie Rojas (@terxse)
Additional Text and Editing by Anna Fregillana (@annafregillana)
Interviewed by Anna Fregillana & Joe Andy
Produced by Philip Vargas (@plipfilms)
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin (@rxandy)
Art Direction, Final Art & Video Editing by Joe Andy (@heyjoeandy)
Fashion Videography by Pogs Francisco (@snaps_ph)
Grooming by Jaime Sy (@jaime_sy)
Hair by Mycke Arcano (@mycke.arcano)
Shot on location Rx Studio
Special Thanks to Direk Lauren Dyogi, Mq Mallari, Jovy Aberion & Star Hunt.