T.A.T.u.t.A.T.u. is a Russian pop music singer duo, sometimes written in the Roman alphabet as Taty or Tatu. The name may come from a Russian phrase that translates to "This one loves that one." The two girls are purportedly lesbian lovers but their sexual orientation is the subject of much speculation.
The members of the duo are Lena Sergeyevna Katina, born October 4, 1984, in Moscow, Russia. She is the youngest of three children born to Sergey Katin, a renowned Russian pop music author, and Inessa Katina. And Yulia Olegovna Volkova, born February 20, 1985, also in Moscow, Russia, is the only daughter of Oleg Volkov and Larissa Volkova.
The original t.A.T.u. concept was developed up by a former Russian psychologist and marketing executive Ivan Shapovalov, who has became a record producer. The sheer volume of misinformation about t.A.T.u. generated by the popular press of Russia and other countries, quite possibly at the behest of Shapovalov, makes it very difficult to be sure of anything reported about them, and thus any information in this or any other article is potentially spurious. As a prime example, Shapovalov is alleged to have stated that his original concept was to have "underage sex as the main theme of the band.
Katina and Volkova knew each other before starting t.A.T.u.; both sang in the popular Russian youth pop chorus, Neposedi, from where Volkova was banned for "inappropriate behaviour" (later on, it was revealed that Volkova was a mischievous child and molested the other girls in the chorus). Not long after Volkova left Neposedi, Katina did the same.
t.A.T.u. started out only with Lena Katina; later on, Yulia Volkova (who was in the same casting as Katina), was added by Shapovalov, who by then was still working on t.A.T.u.'s image. Still, their relationship was not the main object of t.A.T.u.'s marketing image, because practically nobody knew about it. Once Shapovalov got wind of their relationship, t.A.T.u.'s image was finally created: teenage lesbians (by then, Katina was 15 and Volkova was just 14).
Originally, t.A.T.u. was named ТАТУ (Tatu). When they became popular outside Russia and it was discovered that there was already another band with that name, the spelling was changed to t.A.T.u. outside Russia.
The video clip for t.A.T.u.'s first single (Ya Soshla S Uma/I've Lost My Mind) (aka All the Things she Said) was banned by MTV Russia, then unbanned and then won People's Choice Award at MTV's Russian Awards. It shows them dressed up in high school outfits (similar to the Catholic schoolgirl outfits that are common fetish items), behind bars, screaming out in anguish, begging for their parents' forgiveness, and trying to shake the bars. At the other side of the bars, elder people and peers stare at them in disapproval. At the end of the video, Katina and Volkova find an exit and leave hand in hand. The closing shot shows the disapproving crowd lined up behind a barbed-wire fence some think is suggestive of a concentration camp.
"People either love us or hate us", said Katina, "but no one ignores us." More than one of their videos has been banned; for instances, hit song's "Prostye Dvizenyha/Simple Moves" video shows how Simple Moves are always in our lives, like drinking water, reading a book (which is what Katina does during most of the video) or masturbating (which is what Volkova does during most of the video).
The band is known for acting irreverently and having a negative attitude towards the press. Katina and Volkova express in their lyrics that is not wrong to love someone of the same sex. Both openly claim to be homosexual and say t.A.T.u. has one motto: "Don't be afraid to be yourself, don't be afraid to love. We do."
Although many of their lyrics and videos strongly suggest that the girls are in a lesbian relationship, they have never confirmed this in interviews. Usually, questions in that direction are evaded by statements that they "love" each other, or that they do not like labels. The duo had said if they had won the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest they would have married each other. They finished in third place in the event.
From time to time, rumours surface saying that the duo will split up. The most recent ones followed the Eurovision contest, and said that they would split as a result of entering it since it is considered by some not to be "cool" and the fact that they couldn't win it.