8/30/2002 t.A.T.u plots U.S. invasion this autumn

Tatu's first music video "Ya Soshla s Uma" (I've Gone Out of My Mind) hit Russia with all the force of a bomb blast when it was first aired on TV in 2000. As the song about young lesbian love climbed the charts, radio stations fought for the right to interview the teenage duo, and newspapers and magazines competed to outdo each other in the number of front pages featuring the group.

Unofficial fan sites sprang up on the Internet, and the girls - Yulya Volkova and Lena Katina - became national heroes overnight. The pair have since won the 2002 IFPI Platinum Europe Award for selling 1 million copies of their debut album "200 po Vstrechnoi" (200 km/h in the Wrong Lane), and were the first artists in the former communist bloc to pick up the award.

But they are hoping for even bigger success with the Sept. 10 release in the United States of their first English-language single - "All the Things She Said" - and the Oct. 7 release of the English-language version of "200 km/h in the Wrong Lane." As their U.S. debut approaches, LifeStyle met with Tatu in the Russian office of their record label, Universal Music. As Tatu's members think of themselves as an entity rather than two separate individuals, they asked that their answers not be identified by their respective names.

Do you two feel like stars?

It depends on what you mean by "star." Of course, we're happy that so many people in so many countries like our music, that we have the opportunity to do what we dreamed of, and that the product of our creativity is in demand. As for the so-called "stardom syndrome," we don't think we suffer from it and we never will. It's only idiots who get it. We didn't change after they started showing us on TV.

Are you worried that your album will flop in puritanical America?

We're not afraid of anything. Our Western partners have faith in us and we believe in our success. Having signed a contract with Universal Music Russia, we got the chance to work with the super-professionals of world show business, and we believe that with their help everything will work out.

Have you already met some of your Western colleagues?

Yes, Enrique Iglesias, for example. When we were recording in London, he invited us to dinner.

Do you think the "I've Gone Out of Mind" video would have had similar success if it had been less explicit?

Actually, we didn't set out to shock anybody. It all came out just automatically. We only wanted to talk about ourselves and about our love.

So would you say you've incorporated some of your real feelings into your songs and videos?

There are various writers writing songs for us, but all of these songs are exactly about us, about our life and our feelings. So almost all of our songs could be called autobiographical. "I've Gone Out of My Mind" is about us recognizing our feelings toward each other, "Nas ne Dogonyat" (They Won't Catch Us) is about how people's misunderstanding of us made us want to escape and be alone together, and so on.

Don't you feel you've been a bit too explicit in dealing with a normally taboo subject?

We're just being sincere and not ashamed of our feelings. It was when we started working with [producer] Ivan [Shapovalov] when we realized that our affection for each other was more than just friendship. The song "I've Gone Out of My Mind" was not the first thing we did. It appeared more than a year after we started working together. When Ivan understood that we love each other, he suggested that we shouldn't hide our feelings. That was how it all began.

Do you feel hurt by Shapovalov's policy of depriving you of your rights and freedoms?

Why do you think so?

You very rarely give interviews in person, and Shapovalov speaks on your behalf instead.

That's only because we don't want to answer the same questions over and over again.

You no doubt don't want to play lesbians rebelling against a prejudiced society for the rest of your lives. Do you have a back-up image that you can make use of?

We're not exploiting any images - on stage we're like we are in real life. But life is changing all the time and it can't be ruled out that we'll change one day, too.

Are you recording something new at the moment? If so, will it be different from your first album?

Regarding the lesbian image, we think we've made everything clear and we don't need to keep repeating it. At the moment, we're working on our second album. Of course, it will be different; we're not going to stand in one spot and stew in our own juices. What will it be like? Well, we don't know at this point.

(Tatu plays a free show at Vorobyovy Gory this Sunday at 6 p.m.)

Where did this come from? LifeStyle Magazine