t.A.T.u. is a Russian duo formed in
Moscow, Russia in 1999 by Ivan Shapovalov. The group consists of Lena
Katina and Yulia Volkova. With millions of albums sold worldwide, they are
the most successful Russian band of all time.
In 2004 the group took a hiatus after they split from their producer. In
2005 they released Dangerous and Moving and Lyudi Invalidy. During 2006
t.A.T.u. released a compilation album and then ventured on their own after
negotiating out of their contract with Universal Music. The group released
a third album 'Vesyolye Ulybki / Happy Smiles' in October 2008 and the
English counterpart 'Waste Management' in December 2009.
The group is currently on hiatus while Katina and Volkova pursue solo
Julia Volkova was born in the family of a successful businessman in Moscow
on February 20th, 1985. At the age of 7, parallel to the ordinary school,
Julia entered a music school, piano class. When she was 9, Julia became a
member of the famous children vocal and instrumental group "Neposedy"
(Naughty Children). At the casting Julia sang Russian folk song "Oy, to ne
vecher". In a year, Lena Katina became a member of "Neposedy" as well, and
soon Julia and Lena became best friends. When she was 11, Julia switched
the ordinary school where she studied for the school fostering artistic
talents. Three years later she leaves "Neposedy" to pass the casting and
join musical project Tatu in which Lena Katina had already been in. At the
age of 15, Julia enters vocal department of Gnessin's State Musical
College and simultaneously becomes famous as a soloist of Tatu duo. In
2004 she had a baby.
Lena Katina was born in Moscow on October 04th, 1984 in the family of the
famous musician - Sergey Katin - who collaborated with "Dyuna", Marina
Khlebnikova and other representatives of Russian show-business. Starting
from being 4 years old, Lena began, on her father's initiative, to attend
various sport and music clubs for the purpose of fostering plastic arts
and artistic talents. When she was seven, Lena entered an ordinary school
and within a year she entered music school, piano class. When she was ten,
she became a soloist of the famous children group "Avenue" where she sang
for 3 years. When she was 13, Lena became a member of vocal and
instrumental group "Neposedy" (Naughty Children) where she met Julia
Volkova with whom she became friends. At the casting, she sang a song in
Spanish and the jury were astonished by the quality of her voice. Soon
Lena left the group due to her age - children sing in "Neposedy" up to 14
years old. At the age of 15 she successfully passed the casting for the
musical project which was later named "Tatu". Later on, another girl
joined the project - Julia Volkova who turned out to be at the second
position according to the casting results, right after Lena.
Sven Martin — Keyboard, musical director (2002–present)
Troy MacCubbin — Guitars (2002–present)
Steve Wilson — Drums (2006–present)
Domen Vajevec — Bass (2006–present)
Ivan Shapovalov and his friend/business partner Alexander Voitinskyi
developed plans to create a musical project in Russia. With this idea in
mind, Shapovalov and Voitinskyi organized auditions in Moscow in early
1998 for teenage female vocalists. By the end of auditioning, the partners
narrowed their search down to ten 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 13 year-old Lena Katina, who sang "It Must
Have Been Love" by Roxette. Katina began recording demos, including
"Yugoslavia", a song about NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. After the demos
were cut, Shapovalov insisted that another girl be added to the project.
Thus, in late October 1998, 13 year old Yulia Volkova was added to the
After completing the duo, the producers decided on the name Тату (Tatu).
It is a shortened version from the Russian "Eta devochka lyubit' tu
devochku", meaning "This girl loves that girl". For the release of their
first English-language album, they decided to go by t.A.T.u., using upper
case letters and periods to differentiate between an already existing
Australian band also named "Tatu."
Over the next year, Katina and Volkova recorded songs with their
producers. At some point, Voitinskyi left the project, and Shapovalov
decided to sign Elena Kiper as co-producer and co-writer for their debut
The first single was completed in Autumn 1999, entitled Ya Soshla S Uma
(Literally, "I've lost my mind", released in English as "All The Things
She Said"). It was not physically and formally released until December
2000. 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 added
the second phrase of the chorus "Mnye nuzhna Ona" ("I need her").
Also in May, t.A.T.u. represented Russia at Eurovision Song Contest 2003,
where they placed third. 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 final 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). The jury had voted
on the rehearsal performance, where only Katina performed. 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).
On 26 September 2003, the act released a compilation CD of remixes, titled
Remixes. In November 2003, the CD was released in Russia, with two new
tracks, and videos. The two new tracks were "Prostiye Dvizheniya" (which
was previously released as a single but had not appeared on a commercial
release before) and "Ne Ver, Ne Boysya."
A DVD compilation of t.A.T.u.'s music videos and more titled Screaming for
More was released on 24 November 2003.
Anatomy of t.A.T.u. aired on Russian television on 12 December 2003. The
documentary revealed that the girls were not lesbians, and chronicled the
group as they took part in Eurovision, earlier in the year.
In December 2003, t.A.T.u. legally broke their contract with Ivan
Shapovalov, and Neformat. In the months before the split, t.A.T.u. and
Shapovalov were being filmed for a reality show on STS in Russia titled
Podnebesnaya. The show chronicled the group as they were recording their
second album, but to little success, with their producer, Ivan Shapovalov.
The documentary aired on Russian television from January to March 2004.
There were many rumors around the split until the show aired, which
depicted the group leaving due to a lack of interest and care from their
producer. They also claimed the quality of the music being produced was
too low, and that Shapovalov was only interested in creating scandals.
Volkova stated, "He spends his time thinking up scandals instead of
planning our artistic work. I'm sure our fans would rather hear new songs
and new albums than new scandals."
In one of the final episodes, Volkova mentioned about returning to the
U.S. in the following spring, (Spring 2004), to record with new producers.
However, soon after, she became pregnant, and recording was delayed.
On 23 September 2004, Volkova gave birth to Viktoria (Vika) Pavlovna
Volkova soon joined Katina and previous producer, Sergio Galoyan in the
studio. The group was backed by their record label, Universal Music
International in finding adequate songs and production to release a new
In August 2005, "All About Us" and "Lyudi Invalidy" were announced to be
the first singles from the English and Russian albums, respectively.
t.A.T.u. released their second English album on 5 October 2005 titled
Dangerous and Moving. Its Russian counterpart was released on 19 October,
titled Lyudi Invalidy.
The second single was "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 17 April 2006, t.A.T.u. returned to reality TV in Russia with t.A.T.u.
Expedition, which was broadcast on the 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 28 April kicking
off their Dangerous and Moving Tour. On 30 August 2006, the official
website announced that the girls had left their record company,
On 21 November 2006, the region of the Komi Republic in Russia filed a
lawsuit against t.A.T.u. over the album and song "Lyudi Invalidy". Leonid
Vakuev, a human rights representative for the Komi Republic, cited words
written in the booklet for the album, which said: "Disabled people do not
know what it means to be a human being. They are fakes inside the human
form. They do not live, but — function". Katina said, "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."
On 17 May 2007, t.A.T.u. issued a statement directed to 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 26 May, they flew out to Moscow to take part in the Moscow
Gay Pride demonstration.
On 12 September 2007 the group released the concert DVD "Truth". It was
the group's first release since leaving Universal. In late 2007, "Beliy
Plaschik", the lead single from their upcoming Russian-language album was
released. The project was then known as "Upravleniye Otbrosami", which
translates to "Waste Management". The second single, "220", made its radio
premiere in May 2008 and the music video was released on their official
YouTube channel on 5 June 2008. "Beliy Plaschik" and "220" were the main
attractions on a special release known as "Hyperion-Plate", the first-ever
EP from the band. The EP was released on 8 May 2008 and featured
multimedia content including music, video, ringtones, wallpapers, and
more. To promote the EP and their forthcoming album, t.A.T.u. performed
live shows in Russia, Dubai, Italy, Egypt, and the United States.
At the time of the "Hyperion-Plate" release, "Upravleniye Otbrosami /
Управление отбросами" was scheduled to hit the stores in June 2008. The EP
featured a poster which advertised that date, as well as a coupon
redeemable for a discount on the album that expired on 30 June 2008.
However, the release schedule abruptly stalled on 5 June 2008, when
t.A.T.u.'s manager Boris Renski announced that Yulia Volkova was seriously
ill. Volkova's illness forced the cancellation of a concert in Santa
Clara, CA, and the singer was not seen in public until the wedding of
producer Sergey Konov on 5 July 2008. The band returned to work in late
August, when it was reported that t.A.T.u. would be the face of fashion
designer Marc Jacobs's fall and winter campaigns in Russia.
On 9 September 2008, a press release appeared on the band's official
website that declared that the forthcoming album would be titled "Vesyolye
Ulybki" ("Happy Smiles") instead of "Upravleniye Otbrosami" ("Waste
Management"). The name change reflected sarcastic comments about the state
of the Russian music business made by Volkova and Katina in an interview
with Moscow's Time Out Magazine. The press release also provided the track
list of the album and an early version of its cover art, but still no
confirmed release date was given. On 12 September, the album's third
single, "You and I" made its debut on Love Radio. The press release
disappeared from the site shortly afterward, only to re-appear on 8
October with a change made to the cover art --- where there was once the
face of a smiling astronaut on the original design, a black square now
On 15 October, t.A.T.u.'s website announced that "Vesyolye Ulybki" would
be released on 21 October 2008, beginning with a special event at two
Soyuz record stores in Moscow where fans could meet the girls and get
their autographs. The album also went on pre-sale at the official t.A.T.u.
web shop on 18 October, with a small number of buyers receiving a
limited-edition postcard set as a prize. The songs were also made
available internationally through the iTunes digital music store. Upon its
release, it became apparent that the album essentially had two covers ---
the astronaut cover was a slipcase, while the original design used for
"Upravleniye Otbrosami" appeared inside. The black square from the press
release had been hiding a Mars scene.
On 23 October, t.A.T.u. appeared on Vladimir Polupanov's "The 7 Premieres"
to promote their new album. They are also the subjects of an ongoing
mini-reality series on the website Russia.ru. The show follows the girls
in their daily lives, much like 2006's t.A.T.u. Expedition.
On 21 October 2008 "Vesyolye Ulybki" was released internationally on the
iTunes and Amazon music stores.
On 28 November t.A.T.u were awarded the Legend of MTV at the MTV Russia
Music Awards 2008.
In March 2009, a statement was released on the band's site and MySpace
stating that the band will no longer be a "full-time" project and that
Katina and Volkova were working on solo projects. This post also mentioned
that an extended version of Happy Smiles will be sold on their official
website, a special version is being made for Amazon.com in jewel-case
format with new remixes and that the album would be released on vinyl on
the t.A.T.u shop. They also mentioned that the third video will be
released on 17 April on MTV Russia. This video includes Yulia and Lena
after filming the video for 220, riding off on motorcycles. While driving
vigorously on their bikes they are surrounded by police officers and make
the decision to drive their bikes into each other, choosing death over
captivity. This video is "Snegopady"
The girls performed a special concert at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009
on the 10th of May. They were also included as an interval act on the 12th
at the 1st semi finals, performing Not Gonna Get Us with the Russian Army
On July 13, the English version of "Snegopady", named "Snowfalls", was
released to the playlist of MTV Baltic. On July 14, Snowfalls was released
on Amazon.com's MP3 Store and is now on iTunes.
On October 30, the English Version of the Beliy Plaschik video, "White
Robe", was released on Coquiero Verde Records official YouTube account.
t.A.T.u's official website announced that the video was up for voting on
MTV Brazil on November 10, 2009. The video for "White Robe" premiered in
high quality on t.A.T.u's official YouTube channel on November 30, 2009.
On December 3rd, the "White Robe" video reached the number one position on
The album is also confirmed to be released in Russia at the end of the
year. The third single off "Waste Management" is going to be Sparks, the
English counterpart of "220". It will be released in Brazil and on
t.A.T.u.'s official Youtube account in HD, the release date is as of yet
unknown. The video is cut in a slightly different way to that of the 220
video, says Insider (informant from the official web page) and it does
have the girls lip-synching in English.
It was announced on tatu.ru that the release in Southern America by
Coquiero Verde records has been delayed though management has no info on
this, however the Russian edition (the English songs but case notes in
Russian) will be available to order from the tatu.ru online store from the
Coquiero Verde records said the album will be released in Argentina &
Chile on the 1st of February, 2010 & will also release in Colombia on the
8th of March, 2010.