Wednesday, October 10, 2007

t.A.T.u. (or Tatu pronounced [tæˈtu], listen ) is a multi-award winning Russian music duo consisting of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova. The group was formed in 1999 by Ivan Shapovalov, in Moscow. t.A.T.u. are the most successful international recording act exported from Russia, with a fan base stretching all over the world. Their debut album, 200 Po Vstrechnoy was the first from a Russian act to reach gold status internationally. With the release of their debut English album, 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane t.A.T.u. became the first act to receive an IFPI Platinum Europe Award for the same album in two languages.
Much of their early success was based on what was thought of as a lesbian image portrayed by Katina and Volkova, and the controversy that surrounded it. However, in December 2003, it became apparent in their documentary, Anatomy of t.A.T.u., that their sexuality was just part of the group's image at the time, and that they were not actually lesbians. Then in 2004, the group took a hiatus after they split from their producer and Volkova had become pregnant. They were soon back in the studio, and, in 2005, released Dangerous and Moving and Lyudi Invalidy. In the last year, the group has released a compilation album, negotiated out of their contract with Universal records, and announced the production of a third studio album and a film titled You and I.

Ivan Shapovalov and his friend/business partner Alexander Voitinskyi developed plans to create a musical project in Russia. Many stories have been told about Shapovalov's purpose of creating the group, and he admitted to the UK's The Sun in February 2003,
With this idea in mind, Shapovalov and Voitinskyi organized auditions in Moscow in late 1999 for teenage female vocalists.
By the end of auditioning, Shapovalov and Voitinskyi narrowed their search down to 10 girls, including ex-members of the group Neposedi, Katina and Volkova. Both girls stood out among the others, especially because of their appearance and vocal experience, but the producers decided to start with 15 year-old Lena Katina, who sang "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette. Katina began recording demos, including "Yugoslavia" a song about the Kosovo War, which Voitinskyi had written about the turmoil he experienced. After the demos were cut, Shapovalov insisted that another girl be added to the project, so soon after they added on 14 year old Yulia Volkova.
After completing the duo, the producers decided on the name Тату (Tatu). The name comes from a collocation of "ta" ('that' female form) and "tu" ('that' female possessive form) from the Russian language. The group has stated that the name can mean "this girl loves that girl."
When the group planned to release their single for "All the Things She Said" in 2002, they were going to use the name "Tatu," however the name was already being used by a band from Australia. To avoid any lawsuits, the spelling was changed to t.A.T.u., but there is no difference in pronunciation of Tatu and t.A.T.u. For the release of the second albums, t.A.T.u. decided to just go by t.A.T.u., and no longer Тату, although the formatting doesn't really matter.
The duo began to record songs with their producers, and eventually, Voitinskyi left the project. Shapovalov decided to sign with Elena Kiper to make her co-producer and co-writer of their debut album.

1999-2000: The Beginning
Their first single was released in 2002, entitled "Ya Soshla S Uma" ("I've Lost My Mind"). The song describes the turmoil in a girl's soul because she is in love with another girl, but is afraid to as she has the society frowning upon her and asks her parents for forgiveness. Elena Kiper has been credited with the song, and has said that the idea came to her when she fell asleep at her dentist's office, and had a dream in which she kissed another woman. She woke up with the words: "Ya soshla s uma."
Ivan Shapovalov decided to direct a music video for the song, where Yulia and Lena dressed up in school uniforms, while singing the song and kissing. Volkova was only 14 years old at the time, which was shocking for many to see two very young girls kissing. Despite the video's controversial and provocative character, MTV Russia aired the video in November 2000. It went on to win the MTV Russia Viewer's Choice Award at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. Kiper and t.A.T.u have stated that the video (and the group's image) was influenced by the 1998 Swedish film Fucking Åmål.
Stringent rules were laid out for Katina and Volkova. Their management told the girls only to sign autographs for people related to the group, no one else, and to only give brief answers to the press, if at all. They were forbidden to speak about their sexual activities, living together and their personal lives. Their tight contract they were under dictated what they did, what they said, and even how they felt. Volkova was told to ignore questions from reporters, frown, and look clearly upset to further the contrast between herself and Katina.
On May 16, 2001, after releasing the hit "Ya Soshla S Uma," and touring Russia and surrounding countries, t.A.T.u. was signed to Universal Music Russia for five albums.
The group released their debut album on May 21, 2001. 200 Po Vstrechnoy (200 [km/h] on the Counter) included 9 tracks, and 2 remixes. At the same time, the girls released their second video and single, titled "Nas Ne Dogonyat." It countered the claim that t.A.T.u was just a one-hit wonder. After one week of heavy rotation on MTV Russia, it went straight to #1 on MTV's "Russian Top 10" (a weekly chart show with Russian-only videos competing with each other) and #7 on the MTV Top 20. The single received success on radio as well, listed on 1st National Radio "Russian Radio" and 7 other national radio stations in Russia.The Single has sold close to seven million copies in Russia alone.
In late 2001, t.A.T.u. recorded a video for their third single, "30 Minut." The single was released in September, and in August the girls were scheduled to begin recording their songs in English. Yulia, who did not speak fluent English then, enlisted the aid of an English professor from Moscow State University, delaying the recording. The girls continued to tour throughout Europe.

T.A.T.u. 2000-2001: Early Success
Early in January 2002, the girls began recording their English album first in London, England, then in the United States. In April, it was announced that Elena Kiper had left the group as co-producer, and that she was being replaced by Beata Andreeva, a former MTV VJ. Later that month, t.A.T.u. recorded the song and video for "Prostye Dvizheniya". The video was then released in May and showed, according to the girls, "How simple moves are always in our lives, like drinking water, reading a book," which is what Katina does during most of the video, or masturbating, which is what Volkova does in the video. In June, t.A.T.u. made their first appearance on MTV's TRL in New York. They also recorded the vocal shots for the "All the Things She Said" video, and in September, the single was released on CD format. Later in February, the group's debut Russian album, 200 Po Vstrechnoy was re-released with a new song ("Klouny") and two new remixes. The album received the IFPI Platinum Europe Award, having sold a million copies of "200 po Vstriechnoy" in Europe; the girls became the first artists from Eastern Europe to receive this award.
On December 10, 2002, t.A.T.u. released 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane, the English version (co-produced by Trevor Horn) of their Russian debut album. The debut English-language album sold over five million copies around the world.
The band and its management were criticized for their blatant use of lesbian imagery to create controversy and publicity. For instance, the cover of the January 2003 issue of Maxim magazine Russia showed Volkova topless and wearing a skimpy thong bikini bottom with Elena wearing sportswear lingerie. Both girls were 17. Other photo shoots included the September 2003 issue of FHM Russia, where both girls were topless and Elena was covering Yulia's breasts with her hands.
Questions about their sexuality were evaded by ambiguous statements such as "Don't be afraid to be yourself; don't be afraid to love", or that they did not like labels. Katina once said in an interview that this lesbianism was "no image", while Katina had acknowledged in earlier interviews that it was an obligation.
In a 2003 interview on Liquid News, the girls stated that they preferred not to answer personal questions, those specifically about their sexuality. One reporter mentioned that people did not believe that they were actually lesbians, then another reporter chimed in saying "kiss, kiss." Both girls just laughed, and Katina told them that if they want to see her and Yulia kiss, they can just watch their video. It was also mentioned that t.A.T.u. had reached the top of the charts in the U.K.
In late February and early March of 2003, the girls flew to the U.S. to promote their new English album. Filming on the reality show Anatomy of t.A.T.u. began during this time. They caused much controversy through the media for their attitude, choice of words, sexuality and their phrase "Hui Voine!" ("Fuck War!"). The girls first wore shirts with this phrase on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but it was the studio not showing the girls' kiss that got people talking. A day later on Jimmy Kimmel Live, they were not allowed to wear the shirts, however Yulia ended up writing the phrase on Kimmel's hand. On Total Request Live, the girls irritated their hosts by ignoring questions, messing around on stage and speaking Russian to each other. The hosts failed to pronounce the group's name correctly (saying it as individual letters) throughout the entire show even after being corrected by Yulia. Ivan Shapovalov was standing in front of the hosts as the show was coming back from commercial break. One of the hosts said "People don't know how this works, it's unbelievable." TRL did not censor the words printed on the shirts, nor the kiss between the girls. The girls also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Craig Kilborn and MADtv. They also did a photo shoot for Maxim magazine which was included in their May 2003 issue, though photos with their shirts were only available online [1].
The group faced a lawsuit in May after management canceled two concerts, one at the Wembley Arena (Scheduled for May 2, 2003), and another at the Manchester Evening News Arena (May 4). EEM Group, who were organizing the performances, told BBC that they would sue the managers of t.A.T.u. for nearly $500,000 for both canceling and throwing unobtainable obstacles to the EEM Group. BBC also stated that the concerts were canceled due to poor ticket sales, but the group stated it was due to Yulia's vocal cyst.
t.A.T.u. represented Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 and were thought to win. They decided to sing "Ne Ver', Ne Boysia", but because of Volkova's inflamed vocal cords she did not take part in rehearsals, and their performance was rough at the beginning. The girls were placed third but claimed they would have won if the Irish telephone votes had been counted - a technical fault within eircom led to a jury deciding placings (it was also notable that, despite a #1 single in Ireland, they weren't awarded any points by the jury). They later stated, "Eurovision is for beginners ... we were already artists and only attended because our country asked us to attend". Russia protested the Eurovision results but to no avail. During the same year, in a concert in Istanbul they sang Sertab Erener's song "Every Way That I Can" (Sertab Erener was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest that year). Received the IFPI Platinum Europe Award again, for sales 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane in Europe; the girls are now the first artists and only artist get this award for the same album in two languages.
At the 2003 MTV Movie Awards, t.A.T.u. performed "All the Things She Said" and "Not Gonna Get Us". To this day, it has been the largest event t.A.T.u. has performed at in the US. The performance includes nearly 100 girls dancing around the stage, having them strip at the end of the performance and kiss each other. The chorus in "Not Gonna Get Us" is partly playback due to the fact that Yulia had developed a vocal cord cyst earlier that year during Eurovision. During this trip to the U.S., they also taped a segment for the "Show Me Love" video on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

2002-2003: International Stardom
On September 26, 2003, the group released a compilation CD of remixes, titled Remixes. In November that year, the CD was released in Russia, with two new tracks, and videos. The two new tracks were "Prostye Dvizheniya" (which was previously released), and "Ne Ver, Ne Boysya." A month after, Shapovalov made negotiations with Japanese directors Norio Kashima, Susume Kudoh and Shinichiro Watanabe to create an animated movie titled t.A.T.u. Paragate. Shapovalov wrote most of the screenplay, and the script. The film was going to be made by studio iMovie and cost about 500 million yen (4.7 million USD). The 100-minute film was set to be released in November 2004. However, the release date was changed to December, and then it was canceled, mostly due to the falling out of the group and Shapovalov.
A DVD compilation of t.A.T.u.'s music videos and more titled Screaming for More was released on November 24, 2003.
Anatomy of t.A.T.u., aired on Russian television on December 12, 2003. The documentary revealed that the girls were not lesbians, and that it was all just a brainchild developed by their producer. The image that Shapovalov had crafted was "underage lesbianism" marketed to straight men but it was masquerading as "mere love for each other". It also showed more facets of the girls' lives; from their religion, to Yulia having a boyfriend, and confessing about an abortion. Much controversy was brought up from drug use to the censorship of their "Fuck War!" slogan.
From January – March 2004, STS in Russia aired Podnebesnaya, a thirteen-episode reality show/documentary which chronicled the duo recording their second album with producer Ivan Shapovalov. However, in many of the episodes the girls did not show up, or speak with Ivan. Most of the episodes were of Ivan working with other artists, as the girls did not actually participate and record a second album. The girls did record a few songs, some of which were used for their second album. Only a few months after the show aired, Katina and Volkova left Shapovalov, claiming the quality of the music being produced was too low, and that he was only interested in creating scandals. Yulia stated:
After leaving Shapovalov, Neformat soon dissolved. Universal Music Russia, who the girls were signed to, worked with the girls to appoint Boris Rensky as their new lead producer. Rensky, coincidentally was Shapovalov's former business partner before t.A.T.u. was formed. Rensky negotiated a new contract with Universal Music International for 4 new albums, worldwide.
In May 2004, Volkova announced that she was pregnant by her boyfriend, Pavel (Pasha) Sidorov, which delayed work on the second album. During the time that Yulia was pregnant, Lena was off in Moscow studying psychology. She also did various solo works, and some duets with other singers, but none of the songs were officially released. Fans were afraid that t.A.T.u. had split up, and Elena was going solo. However, on September 23, 2004, Volkova gave birth to Viktoria (Vika) Pavlovna Volkova, and she soon returned to the studio with Katina. Then on June 3, 2005, t.A.T.u. returned to the stage, performing a brand new song titled "Obezyanka Nol" ("Monkey Zero"), at the Russian Muz-TV Awards event, and the release of their new albums was announced.
Later in July, hip hop group Flipsyde released their album We the People, which included a track titled "Happy Birthday", which used piano instrumentation from "Gomenasai" as well as some vocals from the soon to be released song.

2003-2005: Hiatus, Break, Revelation
In August 2005, official music videos for "All About Us" and "Lyudi Invalidy", which t.A.T.u. recorded earlier that summer, were released onto the internet. The songs were also announced to be the first singles from the English and Russian albums, respectively.
Nearly three years after their first English debut, t.A.T.u. released their second English album on October 5, 2005 titled Dangerous and Moving. Its Russian counterpart was released on October 19, titled Lyudi Invalidy. Combined, both albums featured 18 new songs. In the months after the release of these albums, producer Sergio Galoyan released demos on his website from the production of these albums during 2004 – 2005 recording sessions (See list of demos).
The second single for Dangerous and Moving was initially going to be "Dangerous and Moving" using the same video as "Lyudi Invalidy". However, due to poor airplay for "Lyudi Invalidy", Interscope decided to make the second single "Friend or Foe". Soon after the video was released, the group's management replaced drummer Roman Ratej with Steve Wilson, and appointed a new bassist, Domen Vajevec.
On April 17, 2006, t.A.T.u. returned to reality TV in Russia with t.A.T.u. Expedition, which was broadcast on Russian music channel Muz Tv. It chronicled the release of their second album, and recording the video for their third single, "Gomenasai" which was released during the airing of the show. t.A.T.u. performed in St. Petersburg, Russia on April 28 kicking off their Dangerous and Moving Tour. A month later, after t.A.T.u. Expedition was finished airing, the official website announced that a DVD would be released titled t.A.T.u. Truth: Live in St. Petersburg. The DVD would also include unseen footage from t.A.T.u. Expedition, however the DVD was postponed, and will soon be released on the group's official store..
In June, "Loves Me Not" was set to be the fourth single from Dangerous and Moving. The video was set to be shot in July, but fans were disappointed when the group did not announce the filming. However, the group did announce that they were going to be releasing a compilation album titled The Best.
Then on August 30, 2006, the official website announced that the duo had left their record company, Universal/Interscope. Not soon after, the official website released a statement proclaiming that the girls had not split up, they would keep their band, and would still record a third album in 2007. The team also reassured fans on September 11, 2006 that their compilation, The Best, would still be released. It contained only one new track titled "Null and Void" (the English version of "Obez'yanka Nol'") and two new remixes.
A reality show titled "Travel Party" was planned to air on Muz Tv on November 13, 2006, however it was never aired. It was supposedly following t.A.T.u. during their promotional tour in Japan.
On November 21, the region of the Komi Republic in Russia filed a lawsuit against t.A.T.u., claiming that the album and song "Lyudi Invalidy" made fun of disabled people. Leonid Vakuev, a human rights representative for the Komi Republic cited that words written in the booklet for the album, which said: "Disabled people [Lyudi Invalidy] do not know what it means to be a human being. They are fakes inside the human form. They do not live, but - function," were the reason for the lawsuit. A day later, Katina appeared on "Mornings on BBC" in Russia to discuss the issue. She stated "Of course, we meant moral invalids, people who do not have soul and human feelings." When asked if they had anything against disabled people, she stated that she finds it offensive to refer to people by that term, and added "We take pictures together and make sure they have priority seats [at concerts]."
"Loves Me Not" remained to be the fourth single from Dangerous and Moving, but only a promo CD was released in France on November 22, and since the group is working on a third album, the release of an official video for "Loves Me Not" is highly unlikely. However, the group has acknowledged the Glam As You performance video as a music video for the song.
The duo also celebrated in 2006 as they were presented with many awards such as Best International Group and Best Pop Group at the NRJ Radio Awards, GQ Women of the year, 'Best Video' at the MTV Russian Music Awards, Best Group, Best Video, and Best Song at the MUZ - TV Awards and Best Group at the Italian TRL Awards.

2005-2006: Return To The Spotlight
During the group's press time in France in October 2006, Yulia announced that the group had plans to begin filming their debut film, based on the novel t.A.T.u. Come Back written by a deputy of the Russian Parliament, Aleksey Mitrofanov. The movie is titled You and I (formerly called Finding t.A.T.u.), a film about the love between two fans of t.A.T.u. The movie is planned to release in May 2008. Mischa Barton will play the Russian lead, Lana, in the film, and little-known actress Shantel VanSanten will play the American lead, Janie. Danielle Panabaker was originally signed onto the movie, but she left the movie before filming due to unknown reasons. Filming began in late May 2007, and is expected to complete in August.
t.A.T.u. announced that recording of their third studio album would begin in early 2007. They did some recording in Germany in January, and then flew to Los Angeles in April for more recording. The group says that the album will be "less heavy" than their previous albums, and without any psychological themes.
On May 17, t.A.T.u. issued a statement directed at their gay fans, "When t.A.T.u.'s second album came out, many of our fans of alternative sexual orientation thought that we lied and betrayed them. This is not true! We've never done that and we've always advocated love without boundaries." On May 26, they flew out to Moscow to speak out against the Government for the cancellation of Moscow Gay Pride.
After speaking out over the Pride events, t.A.T.u. stayed in Russia, as production for You and I (formerly called Finding t.A.T.u.) was beginning. On June 8th, Yulia Volkova announced that she was pregnant with her second child, which could obviously bring on some delay for the release and production of the third album. Since the pregnancy was announced, many rumors have been presented about the future of t.A.T.u. and possibly Volkova going solo, but they are still just rumors.
The title Управление Отбросами (Waste Management) was given to t.A.T.u.'s third studio album, according to [2].

2007: Pregnancy & Film - Comeback
t.A.T.u.'s image and vocals fit well into pop music, however, the group's sound varies from rock, to dance, to pop and electronica. Their first Russian album was mostly rock and dance influenced, while their first English album was heavily influenced by rock and electronica. Their English follow-up, Dangerous and Moving, was a more traditionally Euro-pop album than the first.

Band line-up

Troy MacCubbin — Guitar
Sven Martin — Keyboard
Steve Wilson — Drums (2006-present)
Domen Vajevec — Bass (2006-present) Current

Roman Ratej — Drums (2003-2006) Former
When t.A.T.u. was first formed by Ivan Shapovalov, the group's production company Neformat was born, with Shapovalov and Boris Rensky at the head. In Anatomy of t.A.T.u., Neformat is credited as Sergey Bobza, Marina Kvaratsheliya and Dasha Mischenko. Mischenko was the company's secretary. Also, Sasha Tityanko was the company's PR manager. Tityanko married Sergio Galoyan, a writer and producer who appears on the group's albums. In 2004, the company was dissolved when t.A.T.u. left Shapovalov. Some of the members of Neformat went on to work with t.A.T.u. anyways. Tityanko did join t.A.T.u. on their new ventures, but was fired before the second album was released.
Currently, T.A. Music is the production company of t.A.T.u., located in Moscow, Russia. The release of Dangerous and Moving was the first time the company was mentioned on any of their records, and the booklet then said that the company was comprised of t.A.T.u., Boris Rensky, Dasha Mischenko, Eugenia Voevodina and Andrey Artischev. Artishev has since left the company. Leonid Schlachover is the company's concert director. T.A. Music runs the official website (, which is the only official website of t.A.T.u. that is not run by Interscope Records), the official store, and press releases, among other things. t.A.T.u.'s MySpace account is also run by T.A. Music, whilst and all other international websites are owned by Interscope Records / Universal Music.

Production companies / Management



2001: 200 по встречной
2002: 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane
2005: Dangerous and Moving
2005: Люди Инвалиды
2007: Upravlenie Otbrosami (TBA)
2007: Waste Management (TBA) Studio albums

2003: t.A.T.u. Remixes
2006: The Best Compilation albums

2003 Screaming For More
2004 Anatomy of t.A.T.u.
2007 Truth: Live In St. Petersburg Tours

List of t.A.T.u.'s awards
List of songs by t.A.T.u.


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