Published Work

Up close with t.A.T.u.

The music video for their single ‘All the things she said’ was initially refused airing on MTV Networks for showing disturbing visuals of female romance.

Is that really the reason for the unprecedented success behind t.A.T.u.? If parents were unsettled by Britney Spears’ schoolgirl look they might just drop dead after watching t.A.T.u.’s new single on video. The clip depicts Yulia and Lena, sensual teen members of t.A.T.u., holding hands, kissing and groping. Disturbing for your kids? MTV thought so too. Until online viewer-ship at the Launch and AOL websites soared to unbelievable heights.

Controversy seems to be an excellent PR medium these days. A few months ago you’d probably never even heard of these two teenage girls, but now things have changed. They are controversial, thought provoking, and easily shocking. But what’s more important is the fact that in their music is a refreshing outlook and a buzz that hooks-up the least interested!

t.A.T.u. are comprised of Lena Katina, 18, and Yulia Volkova, 17, both discovered by their then future manager and producer Ivan Shapovalov while auditioning talent for his new music project. Lena and Yulia, both childhood friends, earlier were a part of another children’s band - ‘Neposedi.’

Yulia and Lena initially sang only in Russian. Their first album ‘200 po Vstriechnoy’ contained eleven songs and during the first month of release, it sold over 500 thousand copies (and over 2 million pirate CDs and cassettes). All together during 2001, it sold over 2 million legal copies itself, the figure doubling in illegal distributions.

Later in 2001 a promo company saw world potential in t.A.T.u. and they were asked to translate their songs into English. That was the easy part. But Lena and Yulia, with their limited command over English, were not prepared. After studying long hours in between concerts they gradually picked up the language. Their recordings for an English album began. Things would never be the same again.

Their first video ’30 minut’ was awarded an MTV Video music award for “Viewer’s Choice – Best Russian Video.” Later that year ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ picked up MTV Russia’ - Best Music Video of the year award. The album topped the charts of Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Eastern Europe.

2002 saw more videos, more hits, more awards and more controversy. t.A.T.u.’s video ‘Prostye Dvizhenya’ was shown only at the infamous Moscow club ‘Marika’. This video clip was bold and simple with sparks of soft-core sleaze, childhood memories and desires. A English music video is to be produced for MTV and called ‘Simple Motions.’

Two years after the release of ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ its English counterpart ‘All the things she said’ topped US and UK charts leaving behind chart-populars like Oasis and Justin Timberlake.

The video, finally being aired on MTV, retained most the original clips of ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ while re-filming the parts where the girls sang. The Interscope Records album ‘200 km/h in the Wrong Lane’ hit the stores everywhere. It is currently riding high up the charts of Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Talk is cheap. Not much is known about Lena and Yulia. They were forbidden from commenting to the press and even their autograph is a simple name signing. Fans had to arrive at what the love story was about and journalists had to think out rumors and hunt for information. Most of their racy image has been crafted out of tiny tank tops and suggestive visuals - stopping just short of being outright lewd. A recent interview at MTV sheds some light on their not-much-of-a-rags-to-riches story. A newer documentary is about to be completed and will include everything of what they have to say.

t.A.T.u.’s image, personality and ‘message’ might be controversial but if you listen to the music you’d realize that it is indeed very, very good. Among the din caused by Prodigy-like bass beats, electro pop and noisy guitars you’d realize that these girls have triumphed. After years, Russia finally has its very own stars in the pop music scene.

In spite of their unprecedented success, they are still Yulia and Lena, from the Eastern Bloc – and amidst all the controversy and confusion, musically, pop does not get better than this! As Lena said, "People love us or hate us but nobody thinks nothing about us."