Caught up and overtook. How did the Tatas become international stars and why is Russia still crazy about them?

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The group Tatu announced their reunion. One of the members of the duo, Lena Katina, published an appeal on Instagram, in which she invited all fans to the concert of the group in 2021. However, the composer of "Tatu" Sergey Galoyan soon responded to her appeal. He forbade the soloist to perform all of his songs. So what made the author of the tracks so angry? And do "Tatu" have a chance to be successfully re-launched? Alexander Mezentsev will tell.

Photo: Valery Levitin, Kommersant

Photo: Valery Levitin, Kommersant

Surprising as it may sound, Tatu is still the most popular of all Russian artists. On one of the largest streaming services in the world, Spotify, the duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova has more than three million listeners. But the group itself broke up back in 2011. As explained by the participants, it happened because of differences in views on the work process and "in general everything. The more surprising sounded for the fans the appeal that Katina published in her Instagram on October 2: "The official tribute to the "Tatu" - the spring of 2022, where we will take part with Julia. And also from the cool news - a series about "Tatu" with our participation on one of the largest streaming platforms. About that soon."

Creation history and composition

In 1999, producer Ivan Shapovalov and composer Alexander Voitinsky decided to create a new musical project that would decorate Russian show business.

The singer was chosen thoroughly, hundreds of applicants went through the casting, in the end they chose 15-year-old Lena Katina. Authors of the project were happy with both appearance and singing. The vocal-voiced girl with big eyes and curly hair clearly attracted attention.

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The members of the group "Tatu" in their youth
Lena sang several tracks alone, including a song on the rancor of the day "Yugoslavia," after which Shapovalov had the idea to turn the project into a duet. Thus another young person appeared in the group - Yulia Volkova.

The candidacy of the novice singer was suggested by Katina. The girls went through the casting together, in addition, they were pupils of the children's ensemble "Neposedy".

The authors of the band staked on a bold concept - they used a lesbian image. According to one of the versions, voiced by the band members themselves, behind the name "Tatu" lies the phrase "that one loves that one".


Yulia Volkova: "That was the first time we kissed. Nothing worked, we laughed. Vanya (Shapovalov) was angry, psychotic. It was funny to play that role [young girls in love with each other: one was 14, the other was 15]. It was more difficult for Lena - she was very correct, you had to coax, beg. I was a teenager who was interested in experimenting.

Lena Katina: "Vanya didn't explain what was needed. We couldn't film the kissing scene. When we started kissing we immediately started laughing. As a result, our distance from each other was a rewind of the same shot [backwards]. Then Vanya began to explain that there is such love [between girls], not everyone accepts it. There are extensive statistics on suicide in the LGBT community. And after that clip, we got a lot of letters saying, "Thank you, you saved my life. It often came down to the sexual component of our project: ah, lesbians, ah, kissing. But the project was about love."


A breakthrough in the duo's creative biography was the song "I Got Crazy," which brought popularity to teenagers. The single stayed on the first lines of radio charts for several months. The next video about a love story of two schoolgirls, which also had an incredible success, winning gold on Russian MTV.

The song "I went crazy" by the band Tatu

The authors approached the creation of the video seriously. Soloists had to change their image: Lena lost a dozen kilos, Julia lost her long hair and turned into a fiery brunette. The work took two weeks.

The video about the isolation of lesbian girls from the world around them generated a lot of controversy on the topic of same-sex relationships. The Tatu soloists also found themselves in the middle of a scandal and attention. The girls were allowed to talk to the press and give autographs as little as possible, and a whole set of rules was created for what they could and could not do. In particular, it was forbidden to answer any questions about their sexual orientation.

The year 2001 was a busy one for the group. In spring Tatu presented their debut album "200 oncoming" that succumbed to 500 thousand copies in the first two months. This was a record for Russian-speaking bands and their sales abroad were dizzying too. We even managed to surpass Madonna and Michael Jackson in sales volume. The song "They Won't Get Us" on the EP was wrapped up in a music video.

The song "They won't get us" by the band "Tatu

By the end of the summer, the Tattoos decided to finally conquer Europe by starting to translate the debut album into English. They were already looking forward to the work abroad. The girls had to improve their English under the guidance of a teacher from Moscow State University. And they did not cease to travel all over the country with concerts, also looked into Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics.

In the same year the duo's repertoire was enriched by the new song "Half an Hour", which also kept on topping the tops of the radio stations. The group celebrated winning the MTV Video Music Awards at the Metropolitan in New York and winning the "Most Hit Song" award at the "Music Podium" contest.

In 2002, the band gave foreign fans their English-language hits "Not Gonna Get Us," "I've Lost My Mind," and "All the Things She Said," which went gold and platinum. We had to change the name of the duo: the band became t.A.T.u. because there was already a group "Tatu" in Australia.

Group Tatu at Eurovision
Tatu" group at "Eurovision

A year later, in the spring of 2003, the duet t.A.T.u. went to defend the honor of their native country at "Eurovision". Girls performed the song "Do not believe, do not be afraid, do not ask" and confidently won third place, behind the artists from Turkey and Belgium. The discrepancy in the scores was small; Russians suspected irregularities in the voting system, but the protest was rejected.

The band continued their meteoric rise to the Olympus of music for a short while. In the winter of 2004 STS channel launched a project "Tatu" in Celestial Empire in a format of a reality show, in which the members of the group showed their work on the second album. However, soon the activity of the duo began to decline - Katina and Volkova broke up with Shapovalov.

The release of the new record, which was created in a London studio, took place only in autumn of 2005. The album had the Russian title "Disabled People" and the English title "Dangerous and Moving", from which only three singles were released - "All About Us", "Friend or Foe" and "Gomenasai". The first one was in the top ten of the European charts, the others didn't reach such a dizzying success. Soon after in America they shot a video for "All About Us", which included the shots from the live performance of the artists.

Group Tatu
Group "Tatu".

In support of their new work the girls went on a grandiose promo-tour, the geography of the tour included Japan, Argentina and Brazil. The wave of concerts rolled over Russia as well. During the tour, the "Tatu" soloists dared to refute the ingrained lesbian image. In every interview, Lena and Julia did not forget to accentuate that they were exclusively friendly. The disclosure of cards played against the "tattoos" - the duo was deprived of the lion's share of fans.

In 2007, the girls distinguished themselves by their participation in the Gay Pride parade, and they even gave up working on their third studio album for the sake of it. In the summer Julia and Lena went to the shooting of Roland Joffe's "You and I". The film was based on the work of the Russian deputy Alexei Mitrofanov and Anastasia Moiseeva, a student of Russian State Humanitarian University, "Tatu Kam Back".

Chantelle van Santen and Misha Barton were reincarnated as the main characters. An American and a Russian girl go to the concert of "Tatu" taking place in the Russian capital. The film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, though outside of the competition program.

The song "White Coat" by the band "Tatu"

The third English-language album titled "Waste Management" was released by the end of 2009, which came as a surprise to fans. In fact, a few months earlier, the girls announced that they were going to build a solo career. Lena Katina would be supported by the current team, while Yulia Volkova went sailing alone.

Six months later, Lena did go on stage alone, but half of her repertoire was made up of "Tatu" songs. The former colleague took such an approach to the case with hostility. However, in the future, the girls occasionally united in performances, even recorded a track with Mike Tompkins and Ligalayze "Love in Every Moment" and created a music video for it.

In 2013, to the delight of fans, the duo appeared at a concert together. Sang "tatushki" and at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Sochi. But a week later, Katina said in social networks that T.A.T.u. broke up again. A little later, Volkova assured fans - in the future, perhaps, the group will revive again.

The song "Follow Me" of the group "Tatu"

The former "tattoos" took up a solo career, teaming up only on occasion. So, in the fall of 2021, the duo delighted fans with a new track "Follow Me".

And in May 2018, in honor of the 19th anniversary of the collective presented fans previously unreleased demos.


Yulia Volkova: "There was a lot in the late '90s and early '90s. There was a case when we came to a corporate party out of town, an hour and a half from Moscow. We arrive, there are a lot of artists there. True, not many of them were left - some of them were face down in the salad, others went to their bedrooms. We get dressed after the show and the guards are with us. There is a knock at the door. A man walks in and says, "Are you leaving already?" The director says: "Well, yeah." And he goes on, "Well, you leave, and the girls stay here. That's out of the question". And we are 15-16 years old. The principal takes him out and explains, "Do you understand that the girls are 16 years old? What can they do?" And he replies: "Nobody cancelled oral methods." Lena and I get dressed and hear this. In the end, our director managed to call our mutual acquaintances with this customer, explain the situation, and we were released.

"Tatu now.

Today there is no talk about the revival of the team - irreconcilable differences between the soloists, which fans could trace in quotes from interviews, the main evidence of this. The conflict between Lena and Yulia was written about in the media, and various speculations were made about its nature.

In June 2021, Ksenia Sobchak presented an issue with former members of the musical group - by the way, they did not cross paths with each other, but gave answers to the same questions. Also, ex-producer of "Tatu" Ivan Shapovalov and the mother of Lena Katina were involved in the interview.

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Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova in the program "Beware of Sobchak!"
Ksenia Anatolievna began to develop the idea that the prerequisites for the conflict began after Volkova began to lose her voice. Shapovalov agreed with this, but Lena's mother did not recall a time when this problem was discussed in the context of the search for a new soloist.

Ivan Shapovalov briefly summed up that his own withdrawal from business contributed to the separation of the artists. Julia blamed the impossibility of a reunion on a former colleague, who behaved extremely unfriendly during their joint creative activities in 2013.

Katina, on the contrary, recounted the bondage conditions exhibited by Volkova, according to which she in principle did not have any freedom of creativity, including in her solo career.

Anyway, the legendary performers went their separate ways. Yulia got involved in politics, running for the State Duma. At the same time, she occasionally performs at concerts, in her words, singing is much easier for her than talking. Lena is developing her own project and has reached certain heights as a solo singer.

In October 2021, Katina announced in her Instagram account that the duo would return to the stage in 2022. The news of the tribute stunned fans, and then the composer Sergey Galoyan said: he forbids the soloists of the project to perform hits, so a reunion is out of the question.

What Julia Volkova is doing now

The 35-year-old Yulia is now engaged in a solo career. Volkova is married, raising a son and daughter from previous marriages. The singer has a serious illness (cancer), an unsuccessful surgery, after which the "tattoo" temporarily lost her voice.

Yulia Volkova now

The transformation of appearance with the help of fillers also did her no good: fans stopped recognizing Julia. But despite all the trials, Volkova is not discouraged - leads a healthy lifestyle, is engaged in family and music.


Yulia Volkova: "He was in this state (heavy drug addiction, which resulted in the collapse of the band) for several years. We didn't call each other at all. Then the fans wrote: "Ivan is sick. He had lymphoma at an advanced stage. I arrived, he couldn't stand up, he weighed thirty kilos. My wife Lera said I was the only one who could help convince him to get treatment. In the end I succeeded. He said that Julia would go with me in the ambulance. And we took him to the hospital. He didn't want to do it himself. He was going to India - to be treated with herbs, healers, etc. That was in May, and in September I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer (which made the singer lose his voice). I came to him with my neck wrapped up after the oncology. How's that?"


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