T.A.T.U. Biography

This teenage dance pop duo became the biggest selling Russian act of the new millennium owing to a clever marketing strategy that played on the suggestive nature of the two singers’ alleged and barely legal lesbian love affair. The fact that Julia Volkova (Yuliya Olegovna Volkova, 20 February 1985, Moscow, Russia) and Lena Katina (b. Elena Sergeevna Katina, 4 October 1984, Moscow, Russia) both had boyfriends did not detract from the brilliance of the ploy. The project was the creation of Russian producer Ivan Shapovalov, who sifted through thousands of candidates for t.A.T.u. at open auditions before choosing Volkova and Katina. Enlisting various producers to help record the duo’s debut album, Shapovalov fashioned a suitably sleazy electro pop musical backdrop to complement the duo’s featherweight voices. Their debut single ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ (I Lost My Mind) became a massive hit in the girls’ homeland, owing in no small part to a video featuring titillating footage of the duo acting out the song’s Sapphic storyline. The video became an instant hit on MTV Europe, encouraging Shapovalov to hire noted UK producer Trevor Horn to oversee the recording of t.A.T.u.’s English language debut. Featuring reworked versions of songs from the duo’s Russian debut, the album was premiered by a new version of ‘Ya Soshla S Uma’ retitled ‘All The Things She Said’. The song duly topped the UK charts in February 2002 amid criticisms that Shapovalov was promoting ‘paedophiliac pop’.

The duo represented Russia at the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest, but only finished third in the competition. They also admitted that the lesbian lovers image was purely a marketing ploy. The following year they parted company with Shapovalov and signed with new manager Boris Rensky, who was formerly Shapovalov’s business partner. Later in 2004, Volkova gave birth to her first child. The duo returned after a long lay-off with the 2005 release Dangerous And Moving. The album featured musical input from Sting and Richard Carpenter.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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