Russian duo has request: Don’t call them lesbian

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Russian duo has request: Don’t call them lesbian

The Russian pop duo, t.A.T.u., which catapulted to popularity by toying with lesbianism, is coming to Korea. Whether Korea is ready is another matter.
As soon as its music video, “All the Things She Said,” in which two female students kiss in the rain, was released in 2003, the two singers, Yulia, 21, and Elena, 22, became world famous. The debut album featuring the controversial song sold more than 6 million copies. The rumors about their sexual identities persisted until Yulia got pregnant; she gave birth in 2004. When t.A.T.u. released its second album, “Dangerous and Moving,” last year, the duo defended its lesbian-chic publicity drive by saying it is wrong to “put labels on natural emotions.”
The JoongAng Ilbo recently had an e-mail interview with the two singers, whose visit to Korea is a part of the Russian Nights Festival that will be held from Friday to Sept. 24.

Q. What is your position on the lesbian controversy?
Elena: That’s a question we’ve heard thousands of times, but we have never introduced ourselves as lesbians. We just care for each other. I wish people considered our music first.
Yulia: Our relationship has been well reflected in our lyrics and songs. It’s not more or less than that. I hate the question the most, “Are you a lesbian?”

Are your personalities similar?
Elena: Yulia is enthusiastic about nearly everything. She always has to be doing something, and she loves to party. She can’t be alone for a single day.
Yulia: Elena is exactly the opposite. If I’m a troublemaker, Elena is an angel. The harmony within that difference is what makes t.A.T.u. special.

Tell me about your childhoods.
Yulia: I was a tomboy. When I went to school, I put on makeup. One of my teacher’s jobs was to take me to the toilet to remove my lipstick and eye shadow. I usually hung out with boys. I really didn’t like girls who always whine and cry for nothing.

Do you plan to do a ballad?
Both: No. Ballads are not our type. We like music and lyrics with strong impact. Songs that we are inspired by also have such colors. We also like unfamiliar sounds.

What is your favorite song?
Yulia: “Obezyanka Nol” [from the second album] is the best piece I’ve heard in my life.
Elena: I like most of the songs. My heart still throbs whenever I sing our songs even though I’ve sung them hundreds of times.

What do you do when you’re not doing music?
Yulia: I drive or go to karaoke. I’m a big fan of karaoke.
Elena: Yulia is one of the most famous hot-rodders in Moscow.

Do you know anything about Korea?
Elena: I heard that a cellular phone must be seized when entering North Korea and returned when leaving the nation. I feel so great that it doesn’t happen in South Korea. I can’t live a day without a cell. Neither can Yulia.
Yulia: I know that Korean fans get wildly excited at concerts. I expect the reaction to be explosive at our concert.

by Jung Hyun-mok

The concert will be held at Olympic Hall in Olympic Park on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost from 33,000 won ($34) to 77,000 won. For more information, call (02) 330-6700 or visit or
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