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Encyclopedia > T.A.T.u
The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. The correct title is t.A.T.u..

t.A.T.u. (Russian: Тату) is a Russian pop music duo. The two girls were marketed as a lesbian couple, but their sexual orientation was the subject of much speculation, until in December 2003 they admitted on Russian television that they were not lesbian and it had been a marketing strategy devised by their management.

The members of the duo are:

  • Elena Sergeyevna Katina (Елена Сергеевна Катина), called Lena, born October 4, 1984, in Moscow, Russia. She is the youngest of three children born to Sergey Katin, a renowned Russian pop music author, and Inessa Katina.
  • Yulia Olegovna Volkova (Юлия Олеговна Волкова), born February 20, 1985, also in Moscow, Russia, is the only daughter of Oleg Volkov and Larissa Volkova.

The original t.A.T.u. concept was developed by a former Russian child psychologist and marketing executive, Ivan Shapovalov (Иван Шаповалов), who has became a record producer.

Katina and Volkova knew each other before starting t.A.T.u.; both sang in the popular Russian children's pop chorus, Neposedi (Непоседы), from which Volkova was allegedly banned for "inappropriate behaviour" (Volkova once implied that it was because she had molested the other girls in the chorus; later she said it was for smoking, drinking and swearing. Neposedi denied that she was expelled). Not long after Volkova left Neposedi, Katina did the same.

Shapovalov originally chose Lena Katina at a casting in 1999 to sing a song about the war in Yugoslavia. Later, he decided to form a duo and added Yulia Volkova (who had been in the same casting as Katina). Both were 14 at the time. Shapovalov has claimed that the idea for the lesbian image was his. Elena Kiper, Shapovalov's former lover and originally deputy manager of t.A.T.u., says that the idea was hers. She fell asleep at her dentist's, had a dream in which she kissed another woman and awoke remembering the words "Ya soshla s uma" (meaning "I've lost my mind"), the title of the song she then wrote the lyrics for that became t.A.T.u.'s first single. Kiper has also stated that their ideas for the group's image were influenced by the 1998 Swedish film Fucking Åmål, directed by Lukas Moodysson. Shapovalov and Kiper later fell out over his non-payment of her royalties.

Originally, t.A.T.u. was named ТАТУ (Tatu). When they became popular outside Russia and it was discovered that there was already another band with that name, the spelling was changed to t.A.T.u. outside Russia. It is still occasionally written in the Roman alphabet as Taty or Tatu. The original name comes from a collocation of "ta" and "tu" [pronounced 'too'], two forms of a Russian feminine demonstrative pronoun "ta" in its nominative and genitive/accusative cases. It can be translated like "This female {does something to} that female."

The band is known for acting irreverently and having an insolent attitude towards the press. "People either love us or hate us", said Katina, "but no one ignores us". More than one of their videos has been banned; for instance, the hit song's "Prostye Dvizheniya (Простые движения)/Simple Motions" video shows 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 during most of the video).

All the Things She Said video clip (Lena is on the left, Yulia on the right)

The video clip for t.A.T.u.'s first single (Ya Soshla S Uma (Я сошла с ума)/I've Lost My Mind) - the English version of the song is "All the Things She Said" - was banned by MTV Russia (after unbanning it won People's Choice Award at MTV's Russian Awards) and by the BBC and others. It shows them dressed up in high school outfits (similar to the Catholic schoolgirl outfits that are common fetish items), behind prison bars, which some think is suggestive of a concentration camp, screaming out in anguish, begging for their parents' forgiveness, and trying to shake the bars. At the other side of the bars, older people and peers stare at them in disapproval. At the end of the video, Katina and Volkova turn around and leave hand in hand. The closing shot shows that the disapproving crowd are the ones lined up behind the barbed-wire fence, in a way, imprisoned in their own minds.

After enormous success in Russia in 2000 and 2001, in 2002 t.A.T.u. released "200km/h in the Wrong Lane", an English-language version (co-produced by Trevor Horn) of their Russian debut album. The English-language album sold over three million copies around the world.

In order to play up the lesbian angle of their image, most of their performances usually included at least one instance in which they kissed passionately. This act was usually censored whenever the duo appeared on American television programs.

The lyrics and videos of their songs suggested that the girls were in a lesbian relationship. Sometimes in interviews they stated that they were in real life in a lesbian relationship, often giving outrageous details of their supposed sex life, but more usually, questions in that direction were evaded by statements, such as "Don't be afraid to be yourself, don't be afraid to love", or that they did not like labels.

t.A.T.u. represented Russia at the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest, considered the favourites to win. Volkova did not take part in rehearsals because of inflamed vocal cords and their performance was marred by singing the opening bars of the song out of tune. They were disappointed to finish third.

In December 2003, "The Anatomy of t.A.T.u.", made by the documentary film director Vitaly Mansky, appeared on the Russian television channel CTC. In it, the girls stated that they were not lovers, never had been and that the lesbian image had been about marketing. Katina said that she believed that what she was doing in t.A.T.u. was a big sin and she frequently saw a priest about it. Volkova said that before t.A.T.u. she had never thought about girls in that way, but during t.A.T.u. she had fallen in love with another girl, although the physical aspect had not developed beyond kissing. Volkova also stated that she had had an abortion earlier that year, as had been reported in some newspapers in February 2003, and that she had once taken heroin for a bet.

In spring 2004 Katina and Volkova split up with their manager Ivan Shapovalov, while they were supposed to be recording their second album. They had a contract with Universal Music Russia, but their new manager Boris Rensky (who was formerly Shapovalov's business partner) negotiated a new contract with Universal Music International.

In May 2004, Volkova announced that she was pregnant with long-time boyfriend Pavel (Pasha) Sidorov's child. She gave birth to a daughter, Viktoria, in September 2004. A second album is apparently planned for 2005.

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