Assembled by former TV-commercial producer Ivan Shapovalov after auditioning hundreds of candidates at Moscow's Mostfilm studios, t.A.T.u. (aka Taty) comprised Julia Olegovna Volkova (aka Julia Volkova; born 1985) and Elena Sergeevna Katina (aka Lena Katina; born 1984).
Named after an internationally fashionable word, the teen pop duo delivered captivating melodies and controversial lyrics and signed up to Universal Music Russia on May 16, 2001. Their debut single, "Ya Soshla s Uma (I've Lost My Mind)," based on a story about a lesbian affair between two young girls, became their first smash, gaining international exposure through MTV. After issuing a second single called "Nas Ne Dogoniat (They Won't Catch Us)," their album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane was released. 200 km/h didn't exactly catch fire when it was issued domestically in September 2002, though there was plenty of breathless ink spilled over Julia and Lena's Sapphic backstory. t.A.T.u. returned in 2005 with the album Dangerous and Moving. ~ Drago Bonacich