Members: Vocals Yulia (Julia) Volkova and Lena Katina
Fierce brunette Julia Volkova and sprightly redhead Lena Katina are Eastern Europe's most popular musical exports. In the age of 24/7 televised entertainment, you've likely caught a glimpse (or quite more) of these Russian pop-sensations and full-time mess-with-your-expectations media mavens. During t.A.T.u.'s short five years together, the two diminutive, talented beauties have caused one hell of a worldwide ruckus, routinely playing to audiences of 50,000 fans and selling more than 5 million copies of their debut album, 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane. Infamously, they refused to perform at the World Music Awards unless provided with real guns. Explains Lena, "We wanted real machine-guns, but they didn't give us, so we wouldn't perform, that simple."
Brazenly, after promising not to kiss on the Tonight Show, they engaged in a long, passionate wet one-- much to the alarm of anxious network censors, (and well before Britney and Madonna's little stunt, ahem). And yet, when expected to do the same on Jimmy Kimmel, they deliberately offered not so much as a sweet peck on the cheek. Why? Explains Julia, "Basically, because we like to do what we want. A lot of people are, like, 'you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that, you shouldn't behave in this way.' But you know what? Actually for us, we are the way that we are, and we don't really live in fear of anybody. So, if we behave in a certain way, then that's just actually the way we are."
Indeed, in a world of prefabricated and stridently scripted entertainers, these girls know who they are and do exactly what they want. Through their music and live performances, t.A.T.u. present themselves as they genuinely are- artistically, intellectually, and sexually progressive young women in control of their careers and open to all that life has to offer. When speaking with Julia and Lena, their personal and artistic truths are commendably clear (if not a bit intimidating)-- t.A.T.u. are afraid of no one, they share an enormous passion for singing and performance, and perhaps most admirable of all- the only people they feel responsible to are their t.A.T.u. fans. Beyond that, they don't care about expectations or inhibitions.
"Sometimes we have been asked to do things that have been uncomfortable," Lena recounts, "but for us, ultimately, t.A.T.u. is our project. I think that we have to do it in a way that is conducive to us, that we are comfortable with. If we're going to do things just because other people are telling us to, then we're just going to get lost. We have an instinct about what to do, and how to sing, and I think that usually when people are told what to do, it doesn't happen necessarily in a good way."
Adds Julia, "So we stay natural, just how we are."
Yes, these best friends and musical partners are in lock-step solidarity with one another, which is exactly what the new album Dangerous and Moving is all about. Crafted with the help of various producers, Dangerous and Moving features collaborations and guest appearances from a handful of the pop world's most legendary performers. Indeed, so estimable is t.A.T.u.'s pop-cultural cache, than no less an artist than Sting plays bass on the Dave Stewart (The Eurythmics) co-penned track "Friend or Foe."
As well, the album's elegant string arrangements are provided by Richard Carpenter (one-half of legendary 70's orchestral-pop icons The Carpenters). Here you will find eleven powerful, passionate tracks dedicated to sharing personal truths and expressing a fearless love of life. Dangerous and Moving is an album filled with high-energy club tracks and sweeping ballads that will have old and new fans alike dancing, laughing, singing, and making love.
As for the whole 'Are they or aren't they lesbians' question? Well, there is no better answer than t.A.T.u's own words on the matter. "Our first video was about love between two girls. Love, just love. We do not pretend to be lesbians, we've never said we were" Lena states matter-of-factly, "Julia just had a baby, and we both have always had boyfriends. We share a special bond. We don't like labels for emotions. People should not be forced to define their feelings. These are natural and cannot be labeled."
Adds Julia with a smile, "It doesn't matter. It is not important to our fans. And if it is to the rest of the world, we do not care. We are all different and that's great. Everybody has their own story, their own way of dealing with people, and shaping their own lives. Basically, look, see, hear, listen, and learn."