If you’re lining up to see BINI in a show, chances are you’ll hear someone dub them as the “nation’s girl group.” It’s a tall order for a group that debuted just a little over two years ago after coming together at Star Hunt Academy. Over the course of their journey, they’ve released a number of hits such as “Na Na Na,” “Lagi,” and most recently “Pantropiko” and “Karera,” the latter of which was named as part of Billboard Philippines’ top songs of 2023.

As the eight-piece gear up to release an EP, BINI sat down with Billboard Philippines to talk about their journey together, becoming more hands on in their music, and what they hope to achieve in the future.

Billboard Philippines: How would you describe your journey as a group so far?

Sheena: I think we can describe our journey as a group as “growth.” In terms of our skills, sobrang laking iniimprove namin (we’ve really improved) ever since trainee kami until now. In music, unti-unting namin nahanap ‘yung (we’re slowly finding our) sound ng BINI, which is very good. With the BLOOMS, grabe ‘yung growth, pati kami nagugulat. Parang everyday, nagmu-multiply yung numbers, and super grateful kami. Feeling ko sobrang worth it yung lahat na taon kasi super visible yung growth, hindi lang sa’min, but also sa mga tao na nag-believe sa’min.

(With the BLOOMS, the growth still surprises us. It’s like everyday, their numbers multiply, and we’re super grateful. I feel like all the years are worth it because the growth is so visible, not just to us, but to the people who believe in us.)

Jhoanna: I agree with Sheena! Yung year na’to (This year was) full of growth, self-discovery. Ito ‘yung year na may pinakamaraming solo projects kami katulad ni Ate Aiah, sa’kin (This was also the year that a lot of us started solo projects like Aiah and mine) — which started with Miks last year. I’m happy na kahit papaano, kahit nakafocus kami sa BINI, naka-establish kami ng own names namin sa industry (even if we’re focused on BINI, we were able to establish our own names in the industry).

Billboard Philippines: What was it like when the group was being formed? What were your first impressions of each other?

Stacey: Iba-iba yung pinanggalingan namin, iba ‘yung way na nagpapalaki sa’min ng mga magulang namin…iba-iba yung paniniwala sa buhay, mga ugali. Noong nagsama-sama na kami sa isang bahay, doon na namin nakikita yung true colors namin, mas nakilala namin yung totoong ugali ng isa’t isa na parang oh, si Jhoanna ganito pala... (laughs) na si Mikha pala laging inaantok… mas minahal namin yung isa’t isa.

(We all came from different backgrounds, different upbringings, different beliefs, and personalities. When we started living together in one house, that’s where we saw each other’s true colors, and we saw the true personalities of every member like, oh, Jhoanna’s like this…Mikha’s always sleepy…we were able to love each other more.)

Colet: Sa akin…galing ako kasi sa probinsya, Noong pumunta ako dito, bang, lalo na Bisaya ako. Parang nagkaroon ng language barrier. Sila-sila lang ang nag-uusap…sobrang tahimik ako dati, parang nasa phone lang…nakayuko, ganoon. Sa Bisaya kasi, parang ang foreign ng Tagalog para sa’min. Sa first impressions…may mga misunderstandings. Kunwari ako kay Jhoanna, [inisip ko na parang] grabe, ang arte naman netong babae, ang daldal naman—

(For me…I came from the province. When I came to [Manila], bang, especially because I’m Bisaya. There was a language barrier, kind of. The others would talk with each other and I used to be so shy, just on my phone, with my head down. For Bisaya people, Tagalog is like a foreign language to us. When it comes to first impressions…at the start there were misunderstandings. For example, with Jhoanna, I thought, wow this girl is so dramatic, so talkative—)

Jhoanna: (laughs) Luh, hindi kunwari! (Luh, that’s not just an act!)

Colet: ‘Yun talaga ‘yung first impression ko kay Jhoanna! Kailangan niya kausapin ‘yung lahat ng tao sa paligid niya (laughs). (That was my first impression of Jhoanna! She had to talk to everyone around her.)

Jhoanna: Si Sheena, po, masungit! (laughs) (Sheena was grumpy!)

Colet: (laughs) ‘Di talaga ‘yan namamansin! (She wouldn’t take notice of you!)

Maloi: Si Ate Aiah, ang ganda ng humor niya, as in. (Aiah’s humor is really nice).

The girls all laugh over one another.

Billboard Philippines: It’s so nice to see how far you’ve guys gone, from being strangers with these different impressions of each other to being such a tight-knit group over time. Out of all the songs you’ve released so far, what have become your personal favorites or the most meaningful songs?

Gwen: For me, “Karera.” ‘Di ko alam kung agree kayong lahat. (I don’t know if everyone would agree with me)

All: Yes!

Gwen: Para po siyang reminder sa lahat na (It’s like a reminder that) you work at your own pace. ‘Wag mong madaliin o i-pressure ‘yung sarili mo at i-compare yung sarili mo sa achievements sa iba (Don’t rush, pressure, or compare your self to the achievements of others). I feel like the song is so relatable, na sa life andaming (that in life, there’s a lot of) pressure.

Mikha: Also kasi “Karera” was like the song that we unanimously agreed to be our comeback song. We all loved it so much. We wanted to incorporate our own personal problems sa [music video]. Basically, for “Karera,” we were much more involved compared to the other songs we had released then. That’s what makes it meaningful and personal to us, like we also wrote the rap parts, and also portrayed in the MV shoot our insecurities, which is not easy to do.

Billboard Philippines: You wrote “Karera” with Nica del Rosario and Bojam de Leon. What was that collaboration process like, especially since you were more involved compared to previous releases?

Jhoanna: Actually, noong pinarinig sa’min ‘yung “Karera,” buo na talaga siya. Pero, ang maganda din with Sir Bojam and Miss Nica is hinayaan nila kami mag-explore, [like] if may gusto naming palitan sa lyrics, or if gusto pa namin siyang gawing mas “BINI.” Tapos mayroon doon pa part na walang kumakanta, like beat lang siya, so inisip namin na ilagay ng rap. Yung rappers namin nagsulat yung part na ‘yan.

(Actually, when they let us listen to “Karera,” it was already more or less complete. But what was nice working with Sir Bojam and Miss Nica was that they let us explore, like if we wanted to change something with the lyrics or make it more “BINI.” There used to be a part where no one was singing, like it was just the beat, so we thought about putting in a rap. Our rappers wrote that part.)

Colet: Actually, ‘yung part ni Aiah sa last part (Wala masyadong mabagal / Walang mabilis), in-add po lang namin ‘yan.

(Actually, Aiah’s part in the end [Wala masyadong mabagal / Walang mabilis], we added that in.)

Billboard Philippines: What about “Pantropiko?” Can you take us behind the scenes of what it was like practicing and learning the song?

Colet: Actually, aside from “Karera,” ‘yung “Pantropiko” hindi talaga nawala sa listahan namin — parang Top 2 siyasa lahat ng listening sessions namin. Lahat kami nag-pursigi to learn the song, to practice…lahat kami gustong-gusto mag-practice at ilabas ‘yung best output para sa BLOOMS namin, kasi antagal na nila naghintay. Lahat kami involved, lahat hands-on, lahat may contribution lalo na sa EP na ire-release namin.

(Actually, aside from “Karera,” “Pantropiko” never left our list — it was part of the Top 2 — in all of our listening sessions. We really worked hard to learn the song, to practice…we all wanted to practice and make the best output for our BLOOMS, because they waited so long for us [to come back]. We were all involved, all hands-on, everyone contributed, especially for the EP we’re going to release.)

Courtesy of ABS-CBN Entertainme

Sheena: Feel ko ‘yung overall vibe ng “Pantropiko,” we all love those type of songs, kaya kami na-attach dito (That’s why we got attached to the song). I think the last song na na-release namin na ganoon ka vibes din ay ‘yung “Da Coconut Nut” so medyo matagal na (I think the last song we released that had the same vibes was “Da Coconut Nut,” so it’s been a while). We wanted to release something that’s improved, mas (more) mature, and we love the beach. Alam namin na noong pinili namin ‘to, pupunta kami sa beach (We knew that when we picked this, we were going to go to the beach).

Stacey: Kahit November po siya namin ni-release, gusto namin na i-feel ng mga tao na summer pa rin (Even if we released it in November, we want people to feel like it’s still summer), na the fire is still burning inside us (laughs).

Billboard Philippines: What can fans expect from your upcoming projects and releases?

Mikha: I hope they expect something different from us, but also we want to stick with that sound that we found. Especially since “Lagi,” a lot of people really liked it, it was very relatable, very bubblegum pop, but also we added more of ourselves into each and every song. We really want everyone to understand what we’re trying to stay, that BINI has different kinds of people.

Aiah: At sana hindi lang ‘yung mga BLOOMS ‘yung may gusto sa songs namin (Hopefully it’s not just the BLOOMS that like our songs) in the future, but also people who have yet to listen to us; to capture not just their hearts, pero ‘yung tenga din nila (But their ears as well). ‘Yung mga paparating na songs, sobrang hands-on na kami (With the upcoming songs, we were really hands-on). We really picked out songs that were very BINI. In a way, they don’t get to know us because of our music, but through the music, they know us individually and as a group.

Billboard Philippines: What do you hope to achieve as a group in the future?

Gwen: I manifest [a] solo BINI concert…out of the country!

Maloi: Like Gwen, manifesting na magkaroon din ng concert pero dito sa Philippines, sa mga big domes, arenas, especially Philippine Arena! After ng TWICE concert kasi, parang nabuo ‘yung dream ko na gusto ko mag-concert din dito yung BINI. Ini-imagine ko na parang 40,000+ BLOOMS lahat doon, ‘yan ang dream ko.

(Like Gwen, I’m manifesting that we’ll get to have a concert here in the Philippines in the big domes, arenas, especially Philippine Arena! After I watched the TWICE concert, I really hope that BINI would also have a concert [in the arena] in the future. I imagine that there would be like 40,000+ BLOOMS all there…that’s my dream.)

Jhoanna: Mina-manifest ko na mag-collaborate kami sa mga idols namin locally and internationally. Locally, si Miss Sarah G! Sana po talaga. Sana makabuo kami ng song with her. Internationally…hindi naman masamang mangarap…pero sana makipag-work din kami with sina ITZY.

(I manifest that we get to collaborate with our idols locally and internationally. Locally, with Miss Sarah [Geronimo]! I really hope that we get to make a song with her. Internationally…I guess it wouldn’t hurt to dream…but I hope that we get to work with ITZY.

Stacey: Manifesting BINI world domination!

Jhoanna: At magta-top one ‘yung songs namin sa Billboard Philippines Charts! (And that our songs will hit number one on the Billboard Philippines Charts!)

Listen to BINI’s latest single, “Pantropiko” below.