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Lena Katina – “I Won’t Let My Son Into Show-Business!”

The first photo-session of the singer with her five-year-old Sasha for “Teleprogramma” Magazine.

Ten years ago the t.A.T.u. star Lena Katina chose a solo career. Her new life started with depression which the singer managed to cope with. Now Katina is happy with her son, relatives and her music team. During the time of the quarantine the singer participated in the show “Maska” (The Mask) and is now waiting to resume touring.

“There was a temptation to go all out”

Lena, who does Sasha want to be? And which profession do you dream of for your son?
Sasha wants to become everything and right away! A policeman, a fireman, a driver, a mechanic, and an artist… It depends on which book we read or which cartoon we watch. It is hard to say now where he has more abilities. I think it will become clear in school. I want my son to get a good, multifaceted education and later decide on a profession which he would be passionate about and which would bring him a stable income. I will support my son no matter what choice he makes, but honestly I hope it is not show-business.

That means that you will not be enrolling your son in “Neposedi”?
I love “Neposedi” a lot and am happy that I was a part of that ensemble, but I do not plan on enrolling Sasha there. Right now I am focusing on sports and general education, my son likes it a lot. Sasha goes to kindergarten and does gymnastics and taekwondo. He always gets asked what he likes to do the most. If he wants, I would enroll him in a music school.

You began your show-business career in “Neposedi”. Was there a hazing like in ballet?
Oh yeah! There was hazing in “Neposedi”! It is funny to think back on now. Newcomers were not acknowledged, no one said “Hello” to them and without any sort of explanation. But there was nothing cruel and when someone else would come you would become “the older one” right away while everyone would put their attention on the next one. I was replaced by Nastya Zadorozhnaya. Our leaders were Sergei Lazarev and Julia Malinovskaya. Nastya and I communicate and catch up during events. I also run into Sergei Lazarev and Vlad Topalov often for work and we always have a great time chatting.

What is the most dangerous and hardest thing for a child in show-business?
In show-business, just as in art in general, there are no guarantees for stability. Maybe that is why it’s called a calling. Another thing is that very few people bother with this. There are a lot of talented people, but only a few are successful. Plus, show-business is a world of temptations which are often unhealthy – psychological and physical ones. I got into this world by fait. It turned out that I was chosen and then a completely different life began. The hardest thing was the test of fame. It is easy to lose your mind when the whole world worships you, especially at a young age. And again I got lucky: I have family and friends who, at the beginning of my star sickness, explained to me very intelligently that fame fades quickly, but respect for a person in any profession, that is something totally different. Of course it was tempting to go all out (regarding drugs and alcohol) and more than once. But in the end it did not attract me. There was some sort of internal taboo, maybe it had to do with my upbringing, the right guidelines. I also constantly witnessed what was happening to people because of these heavy addictions. That is why after a concert I would walk to my hotel room with a book.

Going back to the topic of motherhood – were you able to have a friendly relationship with Sasha’s father after the divorce? Does your son communicate with his father?
Sasho and I are constantly communicating. Sasha talks to him regularly, I send over photos and videos (Sasho lives in Slovenia, he was born there.) We were together for 9 years and Sasho has forever become my family, so it was not so hard to remain on friendly terms. After all, we have a son, we know our priorities. A child’s emotions are the most important thing. I think that’s how it should be, a mother and father being friendly after a divorce.

“I have a safety net”

You recently participated in the show “Maska” (The Mask), which had fantastic ratings. Your Spider was great. They say that TV broadcasts stimulate a wave of interest in the artist. Have you noticed this?
Interest in me certainly increased, but I participated in the show because it was interesting for me as an artist to try something new. I generally do not like contests, but I could not resist this as I was drawn in by the concept of the project. I really wanted to sing my favorite songs by other artists. It was also interesting to see how recognizable my voice was.

Do you have rights to perform “Yugoslavia” and other hits which were written with t.A.T.u.’s producer Ivan Shapovalov?
Of course. Julia and I perform these songs at our concerts.

Do you communicate with Julia Volkova and Ivan?
Julia and I have not communicated in quite a long time and our social circles are different. But Ivan and I are in contact. We know people in common and I always know how he’s doing.

Why did you stop speaking with Julia?
We are completely different, we just ended up in the same project and spent a lot of time together. Of course we had a good relationship, but we were never close friends. We have different interests. Of course we had conflicts during work just like anyone else, small and serious ones. The first time t.A.T.u. disbanded was in 2009, then we reunited in 2014 to perform at the Olympics in Sochi and tried to work together again. But this attempt did not lead to anything except an ending to collaborative activities. I think this is a problem for many people in the public eye and the expectations of their fans. For example, when two actors film a movie and fans then continue to believe that they should be inseparable in real life too. This just means the job was done well, but outside of it everyone has their own life. So having to explain about “communicating, not communicating” is kind of foolish in my opinion.

Shapovalov became a person with whom you spent more time than with your parents. What happened behind the scenes? Did he show toughness towards you or was he always like a father?
Ivan always communicated with us very well and explained what we were doing and why. He definitely spent time on this so that we understood the process and could sort it out. He had time and patience for us, for which he deserves a big thank you. I know a lot of stories about producers who just said, “go there, sing that”. Ivan never did that, he was always attentive. I cannot even compare him to another producer, he is just different! Ivan always had his own vision, his own path and a talent for turning people on to an idea. He is like a modern Zarathustra. I love work in the studio the most, this was always magic with Ivan. He somehow was able to get emotions from me which I didn’t even suspect. He knew how to get you into the work and set the right mood. But he practically never went on tour with us, so I cannot say that we spend all of our time with him…It was more with the concert director from whom we were never apart. After all, we had a schedule with 30 concerts per month.

At 16 you were already making money just like other successful artists. I read that even then you were already investing money into real estate. Have you created a comfortable life?
I have a safety net and I can let myself feel comfortable, for example, during quarantine. But there is a proverb that goes, “Money begins to end when it finishes beginning”. Very true by the way. So I hope that in the near future work will resume. This is not only for financial stability, but for the soul. I miss the stage a lot, the energy of the venue, traveling…

“I saw a psychiatrist for my depression”

t.A.T.u. were popular in many countries. Do people remember you overseas?
I have a huge amount of fans in different countries and I regularly perform overseas. A majority of the fans are the ones who love t.A.T.u. They fell in love with my solo work. There are new fans which connected to me through my solo project and through that found out about t.A.T.u. The love from our fans is infinite, I have always felt their support in any endeavor for many many years. For example, at the beginning of the year t.A.T.u.’s single “All The Things She Said” reached 100 million streams on Spotify. I think this once again shows that t.A.T.u. is a project that is timeless and relevant for different generations of people.

Did your Psychology degree help you when t.A.T.u.’s story ended?
Did you know that every psychologist has a psychologist? Of course certain knowledge helps me in life constantly. For example, analyzing a situation and seeing it from an outside perspective. When t.A.T.u. dissolved of course it was very hard for me. I had depression and I turned to a psychologist for help. He helped me at the initial stage. Then my family and friends supported me: Boris Renskiy, who offered for me to continue working solo; Olga, my personal assistant and friend; my musicians, who taught me not to be afraid to write music. I think that during a hard period it is necessary to turn to close ones. Right now I have a wonderful team of people who believe in me, understand me and support me in everything.

What makes up your feeling of happiness?
Happiness is an internal feeling which should not depend on anything. The quality of life is not dependent on the amount of apartments, a new smartphone or a fast car. The quality of life is determined by how happy you are, how open you are to new things. This is most important and it helps enjoy life. I am happy because I have a wonderful son, an amazing family with whom I have a close relationship, a job I love and excellent friends. Of course I have wishlists, goals and paths to achieve them, which, in my case, does not come easy. I have bad moods, like all normal people, and I have moments of despair. But nevertheless I consider myself a happy person. For full happiness I need to release my English EP and renovate my apartment, which I plan on doing next year. Of course, I also want to meet a life partner and give birth to another child, but this is God’s will. The rest I can do on my own.

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Source | Teleprogramma