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Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina, 2003.
|Genres||Eurodance, electronica, dance-pop, pop rock, electronic rock|
|Labels||Neformat, Universal, Interscope, T.A. Music, Soyuz Music, Misteriya Zvuka, Coqueiro Verde, Pelo Music|
|This article's references may not meet Wikipedia's guidelines for reliable sources. (November 2010)|
Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina, 2003.
|Genres||Eurodance, electronica, dance-pop, pop rock, electronic rock|
|Labels||Neformat, Universal, Interscope, T.A. Music, Soyuz Music, Misteriya Zvuka, Coqueiro Verde, Pelo Music|
t.A.T.u. (Russian: Тату́, pronounced [tɐˈtu] ( listen)) was a Russian dance music duo composed of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova (alternative spelling: Julia Volkova). Formed on May 31, 1999 by Ivan Shapovalov, the group signed a deal with independent label Neoformat, then later signed with Universal Music Russia, and finally with Interscope Records in 2001.
t.A.T.u. gained mainstream recognition when they released their first English single "All the Things She Said", which topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland and other European countries. The music video stirred much controversy, showing the girls kissing and caressing each other in soaking wet school uniforms.
The group's English-language album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane was the group's best-selling album. t.A.T.u. became the first group ever to get the IFPI Europe platinum award for the same album in two different languages.
The group represented Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest in Riga, Latvia, with the song "Ne Ver', Ne Boysia", where they placed third. In mid-2005, the group released the single "All About Us", which was another successful hit worldwide. In October 2005, the group released their second English album, "Dangerous and Moving", and their second Russian-language album "Lyudi Invalidy". Then in 2006, the group released their first and only official compilation, "The Best of t.A.T.u.", and announced they had left their record label, Universal Music. The group released their third Russian album "Vesyolye Ulybki" in 2008 and the English counterpart "Waste Management" in December 2009 worldwide digitally.
On March 2011, the group announced on their website that t.A.T.u. had split up, as both Yulia and Lena are pursuing solo careers. Throughout their career, the group sold almost 10 million copies worldwide, making t.A.T.u. the best-selling group in Russian music history. The group also received an MTV Legend award, citing their 10-year history together. As of 2011, Yulia is signed to Gala Records and goes by the more Western adaptation of her name, "Julia Volkova".
Ivan Shapovalov and his friend/business partner Alexander Voitinskiy developed plans to create a musical project in Russia. With this idea in mind, Shapovalov and Voitinskiy organized auditions in Moscow in early 1999 for teenage female vocalists. By the end of auditioning, the partners narrowed their search down to ten girls, including the members that finally become t.A.T.u., Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova. Both girls stood out among the others, especially because of their appearance and vocal experience, but the producers decided to start with 14-year-old Katina, who sang "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette. Katina began recording demos, including "Yugoslavia", a protest song about NATO aggression on Yugoslavia. After the demos were cut, Shapovalov insisted that another girl be added to the project. Thus, in late 1999, 14-year-old Yulia Volkova was added to the group to finish the duo. She also started recording not long after Lena's "Yugoslavia" demo was finished.
After completing the duo, the producers decided on the name "Тату" (Tatu). Sounding like the English word "tattoo", it is also a shortening hint to the Russian phrase "Эта девочка любит ту девочку", 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 uppercase letters and periods to distinguish themselves from an already existing Australian band, Tatu.
Over the next year, Katina and Volkova recorded songs with their producers. Voitinskij left the project, and Shapovalov decided to sign Elena Kiper as co-producer and co-writer for their debut album. they also enlisted the help of Trevor Horn to write the universal version of "Ya Soshla s Uma". Trevor Horn went on to write t.A.T.u.'s most memorable song, "All the Things She Said", and helped produce most of the English album 200 km/h In The Wrong Lane.
The first single was completed in autumn 2000, entitled "Ya Soshla s Uma" (later 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, as society frowns upon this. She asks her parents for forgiveness. Elena Kiper has been credited with the song, explaining 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 saying out loud, "Я сошла с ума!" (Ya soshla s uma, meaning "I've lost my mind"). Ivan Shapovalov is said to have added the second phrase of the chorus, "Мне нужна она" (Mne nuzhna ona, meaning "I need her").
Their first album, 200 Po Vstrechnoy was released on May 21, 2001. Their second single was "Nas Ne Dagoniat" which was only released in music video form rather than as an official CD single, although a promotional conjoined "Ya Soshla s Uma/Nas Ne Dagoniat" was released in Poland. This was followed by the third single "30 Minutes", only available as a music video. The English version of the album was released in 2002 entitled 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane. The first single from this album was "All The Things She Said" released in October 2002 followed by "Not Gonna Get Us" released in May 2003. Also in May 2003, Ivan Shapovalov was arrested after arranging filming for the group in Moscow's Red Square despite his application for filming being refused. Shapovalov also attempted to film near London's Big Ben and various other locations. The footage that was recorded was later used for a music video for the song "Show Me Love", despite the song not being released in any country other than Poland.
The group then released their third, but first promotional single "30 Minutes". It was released as an official single in the UK. A music video followed after the release. The fourth single off the album "How Soon Is Now?" was a cover originally performed by The Smiths. It was released worldwide as the last single off the album. Originally, "Clowns (Can You See Me Now?)" was scheduled to be the last single, however, in Russia, a promotional re-release of the album was released under the title Clowns.
In May 2003, t.A.T.u. represented Russia at Eurovision Song Contest 2003, where they placed third. After the contest, Russia's Channel One complained that Irish broadcaster RTÉ (Ireland's national television broadcaster) had used a back-up jury, and that it had cost them victory. A statement by Channel One suggested that there are grounds to believe that the contest results could be much different for Russia. RTÉ responded by publishing the unused results of the Irish televote, which showed that had the jury not been used, Turkey, whose entry was also overlooked by the Irish Jury, would still have won.
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 Boisya." Both of the tracks were released as singles, however "Prostye Dvizheniya" did not broadcast well in Russia, due to the promotion for "Ne Ver, Ne Boisya" in the Eurovision Song Contest. 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 early 2004, 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 [Ivan] 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." Katina then stated, "He made us out to BE lesbians when we were just singing FOR lesbians. We wanted people to understand them and not judge them. That they are as free as anyone else." In one of the final episodes, Volkova mentioned returning to the United States in spring of 2004 to record with new producers. However, she became pregnant soon thereafter, and recording was delayed.
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 album. In August 2005, "All About Us" and "Lyudi Invalidy" were announced to be the first singles from the English and Russian albums, respectively. "All About Us" was a worldwide hit, charting in the top ten in majority of European charts.
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 which received Platinum around the world. The second single was "Friend or Foe". Soon after the video was released, the group's management replaced drummer Roman Ratej with Steve "Boomstick" 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, Universal/Interscope.
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" (translates to disabled people). Leonid Vakuev, a human rights representative for the Komi Republic, interpreted the song as being directed towards disabled people and cited words written in the booklet for the album, which said: " [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". Katina said, "Of course, we meant moral invalids, people who do not have [a] 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]."
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 duo. 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 duo 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 duo'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 appeared.
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 duo's site and MySpace stating that the duo 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 Choir.
On October 30, the English Version of the Beliy Plaschik video, "White Robe", was released on Coqueiro 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 3, the "White Robe" video reached the number one position on MTV Brazil. 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 was released in Brazil and on t.A.T.u.'s official YouTube account on April 13, 2010. It was announced on tatu.ru that the release in Southern America by Coqueiro 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 14 December.
Coqueiro Verde records said the album will be released in Argentina & Chile on 1 February 2010 & will also release in Colombia on the 8th of March, 2010.
On March 31, 2010, a contest will be launched in which fans will be able to remix their favorite t.A.T.u songs from the new album. The winning mixes will be included on an upcoming remix album. On 13 April 2010 t. A. T. u. released their third single "Sparks" and premiered it on YouTube on 13 April.
Yulia made headlines in Russia with a recent interview where she expressed her opinion on Lena's solo career, "She [Lena] has the right to do it [sing t. A. T. u. songs], but it's so stupid, absolutely stupid. If you do a solo career, it means that you do your own work. Her stuff, that she makes, I think, is silly and very soon her career will wither away and disappear."  Lena responded to this interview via her YouTube Page, "I saw Yulia's interview. Of course I got upset. But I want to tell everybody that I have a completely opposite attitude towards the whole situation, Yulia's project included. I believe she's a very talented person and I sincerely hope that she'll be successful in all the things she plans. I guess some of you were waiting for my comment about this, so it was the comment to the situation and to the discussion on the forum." 
In July, Lena made an appearance on a radio station where she was asked about the future of the duo. Lena responded by saying, "Life has changed a lot. Yulia and I are working on our projects now. I, for one, will be traveling to Los Angeles this Saturday, where I will keep working on my album. And I'm preparing a big show in San Francisco in September, so now we are not planning to reform t.A.T.u., certainly not in the near future. Now we really want to concentrate only on our own projects."  Lena Katina and her full band performed her first live major solo show in San Francisco on September 17, 2010.
At the end of March 2011, t.A.T.u. management released a press release on their official website declaring t.A.T.u. over. Due to conflicts between the girls, and both wanting to pursue solo careers, the duo was officially announced as disbanded. They finalised the duo's discography with a double remix album for Waste Management. The management thanked fans for their loyalty over the past 12 years of the duo's history.
On October 2, Cherrytree Records/Universal Russia announced that they are issuing a special re-release of t.A.T.u’s “200 km/h in the Wrong Lane.” The “10th Year Anniversary Gold Edition will feature all new artwork, a never-before-released song from the 2002 sessions, “A Simple Motion,” a brand new remix of “All The Things She Said” from producer Fernando Garibay, in addition to newly-mastered songs and would be available on November 12, 2012. On October 24, Cherrytree Records released the official track listing for the album, It was a note addressed to fans hand written and signed by Julia and Lena themselves.
Throughout their career the group has received criticism, particularly since the release of "All The Things She Said". The Allmusic review for 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane labelled the band as an exceptionally tawdry gimmick. In 2003, after the release of their video of "All The Things She Said", some UK presenters had campaigned to ban the video worldwide, calling it "paedophilic pop". Despite subsequent reports that the BBC had banned the video from their pre-watershed program Top Of The Pops, the BBC quickly denied that the ban, stating only that they had better footage to show. Not only have t.A.T.u. received criticism and controversies, but critics have also targeted their former producer Ivan Shapovalov for their creation.
Just before the recording of their third studio album "Dangerous and Moving", it was announced that Yulia was pregnant. This led to critics accusing the girls of being "fake", in regards to the impression they were lesbians, although Yulia and Lena have said in the past they are not "together" or "in a relationship". The girls however do support the LGBT community.
The group's management was sued after t.A.T.u. cancelled their UK tour due to Yulia's illness. The suit was later dropped due to lack of evidence.
The ProphetBlog.net had stated "Simply put, t.A.T.u. are one of the most definitive pop acts of the 2000s, and one of the greatest girl groups of all-time." In 2008, the group received the MTV Legend award by MTV Russia.
When t.A.T.u. was first formed by Shapovalov, Neformat was created as the group's production company, with Shapovalov and Renski at the head. In 2004, the company was dissolved when t.A.T.u. left Shapovalov.
Since 2005, T.A. Music has been the Moscow-based production company of t.A.T.u. The liner notes that accompanied the release of Dangerous and Moving said that the company was composed of t.A.T.u., Boris Renski, Dasha Mischenko, and Andrey Artischev.
After t.A.T.u. broke ties with Universal Music in 2006, it was announced in 2008 that T.A. Music would become the duo's record label, although only currently in the Russian market. Happy Smiles was released internationally on iTunes through the T.A. Music label. T.A. Music also now acts as the label and management company for Lena Katina's solo project.
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